At the Hanford Site in southeast Washington state, a powerful group of citizens who keep watch on the nuclear reservation hasn’t met in months. Northwest tribes, environmental watchdogs and nuclear cleanup experts all sit on the Hanford Advisory Board—nicknamed the HAB.
Board members spend hours pouring over thick reports and carefully considering cleanup and safety plans and looking at budgets. They give their feedback. And the federal government is obliged to respond in writing. It’s the one chance for people closely watching Hanford to have a say in the site’s multi-billion-dollar cleanup.
But HAB members are worried. The board hasn’t met since early June—and nothing’s been scheduled for October.
The problem is half of the board members’ terms need to be approved by the U.S. Department of Energy’s headquarters. That’s stalled out and it’s not clear why.
Some board members worry that they’re already missing out on the chance to comment on projects happening now—like the Hanford budget and the grouting of that big tunnel.
A Department of Energy spokeswoman said they’re “close” to sorting out the group’s membership, but wouldn’t say specifically when the next meeting will be.