Nuclear Safety Division
More than 40 years of plutonium production for America's nuclear weapons program extensively contaminated the Hanford Site in southeastern Washington state. Following the end of plutonium production in 1989, federal, state and local governments, Native American Tribes, and citizen groups joined together to advocate for and compel Hanford cleanup.
Hanford Site workers are now engaged in the world’s largest environmental cleanup project. The cleanup encompasses more than 1,900 waste sites, ranging from small areas of surface contamination to 177 aging underground storage tanks containing about 53 million gallons of highly radioactive and chemically hazardous waste.
Hanford cleanup is necessary to prevent further contamination of the Columbia River, to comply with environmental laws and restore the damaged environment, and to eliminate or reduce risks to people who live in, work in, or visit the area.
While significant cleanup progress has been made, success is still far from assured. A number of challenging technical issues remain to be solved and public and regulatory agreement on and acceptance of some cleanup strategies is still needed. Successful cleanup will require a sustained, candid dialogue and substantial agreement and cooperation among stakeholders, regulators and governments. It will also require significant federal funding for the remaining four decades or more needed to complete the work.
The Nuclear Safety Division of the Oregon Department of Energy is responsible for:
- Technical review of the Hanford cleanup and assessment of potential impacts on the Columbia River and Oregon
- The safe transport of radioactive material in and through Oregon, including portions of deactivated nuclear-powered submarines and cruisers on the Columbia River
- Staffing the Oregon Hanford Cleanup Board, which is the center of policy discussions regarding disposal of high-level radioactive waste
- Emergency preparedness for a nuclear accident at Hanford or Energy Northwest's Columbia Generating Station Nuclear Plant.
- Informing the public about Hanford issues. If you're interested in a presentation to your school, organization or group, contact Ken Niles at 503-378-4906.
- Representing Oregon on the Hanford Natural Resources Trustee Council, the committee of trustees with legal responsibility for overseeing the natural resource damage assessment and restoration (NRDAR) process at Hanford under the federal Superfund law.
- Oversight and regulation of the cleanup of the White King and Lucky Lass Mines in southern Oregon.
If you have other questions about our work, please contact: Ken Niles
Oregon Department of Energy
Nuclear Safety Division
625 Marion Street NE
Salem, OR 97301-3737
Phone: 1-800-221-8035 (in Oregon) or 503-378-4906