Source: The Columbian | Annette Cary, Tri-City Herald | March 25, 2015

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., asked the energy secretary Wednesday why the Department of Energy is not using an additional $45 million she and other members fought to get for Hanford cleanup in the present budget.

Work is well underway toward cleanup on the 324 building and the 618-10 burial grounds, with $209 million combined spent, she said at a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Energy and Water Development Subcommittee.

“It seems to me that DOE now is trying to pull the plug on them, creating a safety risk, cleanup delay, cost increases and missing those Tri-Party Agreement milestones,” she said.

The hearing was to address the administration’s proposed budget for fiscal 2016, which would reduce spending on cleanup along the Columbia River by almost $204 million from current spending to $108 million.

Much of the cleanup along the Columbia River is expected to be finished this year, but the proposed cut would impact work on the 618-10 Burial Ground and the 324 Building.

“Several high-risk projects close to the city of Richland, close to the Columbia River and Energy Northwest remain,” Murray said.

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz suggested that DOE meet with Murray or her staff to discuss the fiscal 2016 budget proposal and said he would need to look into the details of spending on cleanup for projects along the Columbia River and get back to her.

Murray said she wanted his answer to be part of the public record so all members of the Senate Appropriations Committee have the information.

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.; U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside, and Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, also have each asked questions of Moniz about cleanup of the 324 Building and the 6-acre 618-10 Burial Ground.