News Releases

Murray Delivers Billions for Tri-Cities Priorities in Critical Senate Spending Bill

Jul 08 2008

Bill includes major victory for Hanford cleanup including increase of more than $221 million over President's budget request

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) announced that in a tight budget year she has included critical funding for Hanford cleanup and alternative energy production in the Tri-Cities area in the Senate's FY 2009 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill.  As a senior member of the subcommittee that drafted the bill, Murray fought for the funding increases for the Hanford cleanup including a much needed boost for tank waste cleanup, the plutonium finishing plant, groundwater cleanup and the River Corridor Closure Project.

"This bill is a huge win for Hanford," said Senator Murray. "It contains increases for projects that are critical to preventing further contamination and it protects funding for facilities that are the cornerstone of the cleanup. I know how important it is that work on these projects moves forward in a timely and efficient manner and this bill reflects that need. This is a great step toward keeping jobs in the Tri-Cities and keeping true to our commitment to cleanup Hanford."

In today's bill, Senator Murray was also able to include funding for a biofuel production facility in Benton and critical language that will affect the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). The funding passed the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee today and goes to the full Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday (7/10).


TOTAL FUNDING: $2,052,007,000

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.

Office of River Protection – $1,031,443,000 - $53 million increase


Tank Farm – 341,000,000 - $53 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 – $1,020,564,000 - $168,777,000 increase


River Corridor Closure Project - $245,825,000 - $80,577,000 increase
Plutonium Finishing Plant - $122,483,000 - $9,000,000 increase
Solid Waste cleanup in 200 area - $220,930,000 - $45,000,000 increase
Groundwater cleanup - $195,382,000 - $25.7 million increase
Hammer Facility - $8,000,000 - $8 million increase
B-Reactor Museum - $500,000 - $500,000 increase

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.”

PORT OF BENTON - $1,000,000

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 its 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.” 


Senator Murray also included language in the bill that strongly reiterates her support for projects included in the President's request. As a senior member of the Energy and Water Appropriations Committee, Senator Murray uses the language to help protect projects from being eliminated from the bill. In this bill Senator Murray inserted language to protect the following projects in the Tri-Cities area:

Physical Sciences Facility at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) - $41,155,000 
This language protects funding for PNNL's Physical Science Facility. This Office of Science funding is part of the effort to provide new research space to partially replace aging lab facilities in the 300 Area that must be vacated by 2011 to expedite environmental cleanup at Hanford.

Senator Murray also included language to protect $13,147,000 to continue construction of the Physical Sciences Laboratory at PNNL funding through the National Nuclear Security Administration. 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.

Washington State University’s Bioproducts, Sciences, and Engineering Laboratory (BSEL)
Senator Murray included language in the bill recognizing the important partnership between the PNNL and Washington State University’s new Bioproducts, Sciences, and Engineering Laboratory (BSEL).  The two entities are collaborating on biomass research, which has the potential to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL) - $48,500,000
This language protects funding for the EMSL which is located on the grounds of PNNL in Richland. The EMSL does world-class research in the biological, chemical, and environmental sciences that is used to address environmental challenges.