The state of Washington shouldn’t have to sue the U.S. Department of Energy — again — to clean up the 60-year old problem of 56 million gallons of highly radioactive waste buried at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. But it may be the only way to get the federal government’s attention.
The DOE has known since 1956 that underground tanks storing toxic sludge are leaking. It has done little since then to clean up the site and find a permanent home for the deadly radioactive wastes leaking into the soil and creeping toward the Columbia River.
The state sued the energy department in 2008 over missed cleanup deadlines that ended with the 2010 Hanford Cleanup Consent Decree specifying detailed and rigid cleanup milestones. The DOE has missed two already and announced it would miss two more this year.
We’re amazed by the Energy Department’s illegal failure to meet the deadlines set out in the 2010 consent decree. This time, when the state uses a legal hammer to move the cleanup along, we hope they bring it down harder.