- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 13, 2015

RICHLAND, Wash. (AP) - A federal judge has agreed to consider all three proposals to modify a court-enforced cleanup agreement for Hanford, which was signed in 2010.

The U.S. Department of Energy and the states of Oregon and Washington asked the federal court to intervene in the case in fall 2014, The Tri-City Herald reported (https://is.gd/8Xtlcc ).

Judge Rosanna Malouf Peterson of Spokane said in an order filed Monday that all three parties showed conditions had significantly changed, and that warrants modification of the consent decree.

She will look at the specific requests from each agency and likely will schedule an evidence hearing.

The consent decree was signed in 2010 to resolve a lawsuit brought by Washington state against the Energy Department over deadlines it looked like the department would not be able to meet.

The Energy Department has 56 million gallons of radioactive waste in tanks left from the past production of weapons plutonium. It plans to turn much of the waste into a stable glass form for disposal at the vitrification plant.

But “almost immediately after the consent decree was entered,” the Energy Department gave notice that one or more of the new deadlines were at risk, Malouf Peterson said in the court order.

The consent decree discussed the possibility of changed conditions, including unforeseen technical and safety concerns that might affect the schedule. But the specific conditions that changed were not listed.

While some of the changes could have been foreseeable, Washington did not show that the Energy Department anticipated them, the judge found.

Construction has stopped on key parts of the plant while technical issues are resolved.

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Information from: Tri-City Herald, https://www.tri-cityherald.com

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