The U.S. Department of Energy has agreed to pay $136,000 in fines for allegedly mishandling waste left over from plutonium production at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. The penalty comes from the Environmental Protection Agency. The Department of Energy doesn’t agree with EPA's findings.
Energy contractors allegedly stored some radioactive waste without the proper permit, and placed some of it in a landfill before treating it. That permit is under dispute. The waste involved includes contaminated science glove boxes, lab equipment and concrete. Environmental regulators studied records from the late 1980's through 2011 in this investigation. The EPA’s Adam Baron says the fine is relatively small, because the Department of Energy has already agreed to fix these specific problems.
“So every dollar that comes out in penalty payments means some lessened amount of cleanup. And it’s in everybody’s best interest to make sure that that cleanup happens extensively and as quickly as possible,” Baron says.
Cameron Hardy, a DOE spokesman, says the department is pleased to be moving forward with cleanup rather than going through an expensive, drawn-out legal battle.