The Hanford Site (also known as the Hanford Reservation) occupies approximately 1,450 km2 (560 square miles) along the Columbia River in south-central Washington, north of the city of Richland. The site was established by the federal government in 1943 to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons. Currently, the mission of the site, under the responsibility of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), is management of wastes generated by the weapons program and remediation of the environment contaminated by that waste. As part of that mission, DOE and the State of Washington Department of Ecology prepared the Hanford Site Tank Waste Remediation System Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS).
The Hanford Tanks is a general review of the DEIS. Its findings and recommendations are the subject of this report. Selection of a disposition plan for these wastes is a decision of national importance, involving potential environmental and health risks, technical challenges, and costs of tens to hundreds of billions of dollars. The last comprehensive analysis of these issues was completed 10 years ago, and several major changes in plans have occurred since. Therefore, the current reevaluation is timely and prudent. This report endorses the decision to prepare this new environmental impact statement, and in particular the decision to evaluate a wide range of alternatives not restricted to those encouraged by current regulatory policies.