Funding boost for US weapon sites clean-up

01 April 2009

US energy secretary Steven Chu has announced $6 billion in new funding for the environmental clean-up of former nuclear weapons facilities across the country.
The funding, under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, is aimed at accelerating clean-up work and creating thousands of jobs across 12 US states. Project identified for funding will focus on accelerating cleanup of soil and groundwater, transportation and disposal of waste, and cleaning and demolishing former weapons complex facilities.
Chu commented, "These investments will put Americans to work while cleaning up contamination from the cold war era." He added, "It reflects our commitment to future generations as well as to help local economies get moving again."
The projects and the new funding are managed by the Department of Energy's Office of Environmental Management, which is responsible for the risk reduction and clean-up of the environmental legacy from the USA's nuclear weapons program.
Washington State will receive the largest slice of the funding, with a total of $1.961 billion. Of this, $1.635 billion is to be used by the Richland Operations Office for the demolition of nuclear facilities and support facilities, the remediation of waste sites, remediation of contaminated groundwater and the retrieval of solid waste from burial grounds. It will also be used to accelerate the clean-up of the Hanford site. Meanwhile, the Office of River Protection will receive $326 million for, among other things, the transfer of radioactive liquid waste from old underground tanks to a waste treatment facility and to accelerate the design of the high-level waste storage facility.
The Savannah River Site in South Carolina is to receive $1.615 billion in funding for accelerating decommissioning of nuclear facilities and contaminated areas throughout the site. This includes the in-place decommissioning of two nuclear materials production reactors.
$755 million has been allocated to the Oak Ridge site in Tennessee, primarily for accelerating the demolition and disposal of remaining uranium enrichment plant buildings, surplus Manhattan Project era buildings, and highly contaminated uranium processing facilities.
In Idaho, the Idaho National Laboratory will receive $468 million to accelerate demolition of excess nuclear and radiological facilities, and for the retrieval and shipment of waste offsite for disposal.
New Mexico will get $384 million, of which $172 million will be used to accelerate shipment of legacy transuranic waste from several sites to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) repository. The Los Alamos National Laboratory will also receive $212 million for demolishing 35 buildings and structures across the complex.
Among the other funding allocations, sites in New York (Brookhaven, Separation Process Research Unit and West Valley) will receive a total of $148 million, while the Miamisburg and Portsmouth sites in Ohio will receive a combined $138 million. The Moab uranium mill site in Utah has been allocated $108 million and the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois will get $99 million. The Nevada Test Site will also receive $44 million.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was passed in February and is a nationwide effort to create jobs, jumpstart growth and transform the US economy. The compromise package of $789 billion aims to create or save 3.5 million jobs over the next two years. Jobs created will be in a range of industries from clean energy to health care, with over 90% in the private sector.

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