News Releases

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced that she has worked to include a significant funding increase for Hanford cleanup in the Fiscal Year 2009 Omnibus Appropriations bill.

“The Bush administration left a hole in Hanford funding,” said Senator Murray. “We are now beginning to climb out of it. After a big victory in the Economic Recovery bill, this is another step toward achieving stable funding for Hanford. With our economy in decline, this funding will help preserve jobs and the promise we’ve made to cleanup Hanford.”

As a senior member of the energy and Water Appropriations Committee, Senator Murray fought for the funding increases for Hanford cleanup including a much needed boost for tank waste cleanup, the plutonium finishing plant, groundwater cleanup and the River Corridor Closure Project. The 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Bill will fund projects for the remainder of the 2009 Fiscal Year which runs until September 30th, 2009. The federal government is currently operating under spending levels passed for Fiscal Year 2008 because President Bush refused to sign many 2009 spending bills last year and Congress was forced to pass a continuing resolution. The 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Bill was unveiled today and is expected to be passed by Congress and signed by President Obama in the coming weeks. The funding levels included in this bill represent what will be sent to the President if the bill is approved by Congress.

Senator Murray was also able to include funding for a biofuel production facility in Benton and critical funding that will affect the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL).

HANFORD FUNDING

TOTAL FUNDING: $1,976,919,000

The funding for Hanford is broken down into funding for the Office of River Protection and the Hanford Site. Listed below are the funding levels for those two areas as well as the funding levels for some specific projects. The increases listed are in relation to the levels included in the President’s budget request.  Note – All increases are over President Bush’s 2009 budget request.

Office of River Protection – $1,009,943,000 - $31,500,000 increase

Inludes:

  • Tank Farm – 319,943,000 - $31.5 million increase
  • Waste Treatment Plant – 690,000,000

The Waste Treatment Plant or vitrification plant and the tank farm project are critical to the Office of River Protection's (ORP) mission at Hanford to stabilize, treat and dispose of nuclear waste that threatens the Columbia River. The $53 million increase that Senator Murray has included for the tank farm project is critical because it will allow the ORP to move forward on a supplemental treatment path and continue with single shell tank waste retrievals.

Hanford Site – $966,976,000- $115,189,000 increase

Includes:

  • River Corridor Closure Project - $231,837,000 - $66,589,000 increase
  • Plutonium Finishing Plant - $122,483,000 - $9,000,000 increase
  • Solid Waste cleanup in 200 area - $198,430,000 - $22,500,000 increase
  • Groundwater cleanup - $182,532,000 - $12,850,000 million increase
  • DOE is directed to use Hanford site funding for Hammer Facility and B-Reactor preservation under the terms of the bill.

The funding that Senator Murray secured for the River Closure Project will help retain approximately 400 employees working for Washington Closure Hanford, will maintain the momentum of this closure contract, and help meet most of the Tri-Party Agreement milestones.  It will also help protect the Columbia River from possible contamination.

“The River Corridor contract was put in place several years ago as a model for “closure” contracts to achieve the cleanup goals," said Gary R. Petersen, Vice President of the Tri-Cities Industrial Development Council (TRIDEC).  "Work under this closure contract is ahead of schedule and under budget, and is proving its value to Hanford cleanup.  Maintaining this funding will help ensure the Columbia River is protected.”

PNNL FUNDING

An ongoing project for the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is the construction of the Physical Sciences Facility (PSF).  This project will partially replace aging lab facilities in Hanford’s 300 Area that must be vacated by 2011 to expedite the cleanup at Hanford.

Senator Murray, a senior appropriator and member of the Energy and Water Development subcommittee increased funds to complete this project ahead of schedule:

  • $52,775,000 from the Office of Science
  • $18,460,000 from the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)

This funding completes the Department of Energy’s portion of construction funding; however there is language reiterating the lead role DOE’s Under Secretary of Science in ensuring that contributions from all parties are coordinated and will be sufficient to complete the facility. These funds, combined with the $25 million Senator Murray included in the DHS Appropriations bill, provide the funding necessary to keep the PNNL relocation project on track.

“The Physical Sciences Facility is a critical part of PNNL’s mission to safeguard our nation and build our energy future,” said Senator Murray. “This will complete DOE’s portion of funding to replace aging PNNL facilities two years ahead of schedule. Combined with funding secured in the Economic Recovery bill, we are well on our way to building the most modern laboratory in the DOE complex”

PORT OF BENTON - $951,000

This funding will be used to assist in the building, construction and maintenance of an alternative energy demonstration facility, which will transform agriculture waste into thermal and electrical energy from the gasification of biomass pellets. Over two million tons of biomass is generated within a five county area in Eastern Washington near the Tri-Cities.  Agricultural by-product, or biomass, has little use and is often disposed of at local landfills, left standing in unsafe piles, or plowed in the ground as compost.  This biomass gasification project will convert that biomass into pellets, which when gasified, provide an alternative source of energy. The project will create immediate jobs in the Tri-City area and has the potential to spur tremendous economic development.

"With skyrocketing energy costs hitting resident in   rural areas like the Tri-Cities hard, we can all agree that it’s time to seriously invest in alternative sources of energy," said Senator Murray. "This funding will help create a biomass facility that will be a model for similar projects in the area. Biomass production is a great way to use the Tri-Cities agricultural roots to build a new industry for the region."

“The Port of Benton is proud to showcase biomass gasification as an innovative alternative energy project," said Scott Keller, Executive Director of the Port of Benton. "This effort harnesses the byproducts of our thriving agricultural sector as a source of heat and electrical power.  We thank Senator Murray for her strong leadership in gaining federal funding for this worthy project.”