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Long-Term Stewardship for the Hanford Nuclear Site

Long-Term Management of Contaminated Sites

ISBN: 978-0-76231-319-8, eISBN: 978-1-84950-419-5

Publication date: 7 December 2006


The Hanford site, in Washington State, presents a large-scale test for long-term stewardship of residual radioactive and chemical contamination. Large quantities of waste and contaminated materials will remain in perpetuity near the land's surface and the Columbia River, making Hanford perhaps the most complex long-term stewardship challenge among former weapons production sites. This paper explores the scope of contamination, the Department of Energy's approach to cleanup, the likely residuals requiring long-term stewardship, and the issues that are thus raised. Expectations with respect to long-term land uses, the likely durability of institutional controls, and funding, information management, and accountability have long been influenced by mistrust and tension between local communities, regulators, tribes, and the Department of Energy (DOE). Despite positive steps by DOE such as the creation of the Office of Legacy Management, DOE's dependence upon annual appropriations, its sovereign immunity with respect to key state and local land use regulations, and recent policy pronouncements that cast doubt on the willingness to respond to unanticipated problems with additional cleanup, all leave doubt in the minds of regulators and communities that DOE can be counted upon to be both proactive and accessible once cleanup is complete.


Power, M.S. (2006), "Long-Term Stewardship for the Hanford Nuclear Site", Leschine, T.M. (Ed.) Long-Term Management of Contaminated Sites (Research in Social Problems and Public Policy, Vol. 13), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 81-104.



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