Permits are the tools we use to regulate the treatment, storage, and disposal of dangerous and mixed wastes at the Hanford site and other waste sites in Washington. Mixed wastes include toxic chemical and radioactive wastes. The permits help us protect you, the air, land, and water.
The Hanford site once was home to a plutonium-production complex with nine nuclear reactors and associated processing facilities. The 580 square-mile site, located along the Columbia River in southeastern Washington, played a pivotal role in the nation's defense for more than 45 years, beginning in the 1940s with the Manhattan Project.
Plutonium production shut down in the mid-1980s. In 1989 the State of Washington, represented by the Department of Ecology, U.S. Dept. of Energy, and EPA signed the Tri-Party Agreement to begin cleaning up decades worth of toxic and radioactive contamination. The Agreement ensures that the state will have a significant role in the cleanup, and spells out how the three agencies cooperate to see that cleanup of nuclear waste at Hanford complies with federal law.
1994: Hanford F Reactor
2004: Hanford F Reactor
Today, Hanford is one of the world's largest environmental cleanup projects, under the direction of Energy, which has more than 8,000 employees and contractors in two main offices: the Office of River Protection and Richland Operations Office.
Ecology works with the EPA to ensure that work performed by Energy and its contractors complies with the laws. Permits set conditions based on state and federal laws and regulations that control the treatment, storage, and disposal of dangerous waste. Our Nuclear Waste Program oversees permits to focus on keeping you and the environment safe.
Ecology's Nuclear Waste Program regulates cleanup at Hanford, and we oversee four other nuclear waste sites in Washington.
The Hanford federal facility permits that we manage include:
In addition to providing oversight and permits for cleanup at the DOE Hanford site, our Nuclear Waste Program provides oversight to the following commercial radioactive mixed-waste sites in Washington: