Congressman Greg Walden

Representing the 2nd District of Oregon

Walden, Newhouse, Secretary Perry Visit Hanford

October 1, 2019
Press Release
Celebrate completion of K-Basin Sludge Transfer

Rep. Walden, Rep. Newhouse, Secretary Rick Perry, and others gather for a photo at Hanford.

Today, U.S. Representatives Greg Walden (R-OR) and Dan Newhouse (R-WA) joined U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry on a visit to the Hanford Site, in Washington State.

The Hanford Site is one of the designated locations where the U.S. Federal Government stores nuclear waste. The site currently sits near the Columbia River, posing a potential threat to communities throughout the Pacific Northwest. The trip was a celebration to commemorate the completion of the K-Basin sludge transfer. This transfer was completed under budget, ahead of schedule, and reduces the environmental risks to the Columbia River.

 

Rep. Walden and Secretary Perry shake hands upon arrival at Hanford.

 

Walden was last at Hanford in 2017 with Secretary Perry to view the progress of the cleanup. He applauds the completion of the K-Basin sludge transfer and remains committed to ensuring Congress passes the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act. The bill, which recently passed a markup at the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on the Environment and Climate Change, would reopen Yucca Mountain as a permanent repository of the nation’s nuclear waste. Congress first designated Yucca Mountain as the key storage facility in 1978 after scientists found it could safely store nuclear waste for one million years. Nuclear waste from Hanford, once cleaned up, would be stored in Yucca Mountain.

While at the Hanford site, Walden delivered remarks, held a press gaggle, spoke with STEM students, and toured site facilities.

Rep. Walden delivers remarks.

Below are Walden’s Remarks as prepared for delivery:

Thank you, Secretary Perry, for inviting me to be here today and celebrate the great accomplishment of removing all the nuclear sludge left over from the Cold War out of the K-Basin and away from the Columbia River.

I’m Congressman Greg Walden -- I represent the Second District of Oregon and serve as the Republican Leader of the Energy and Commerce Committee. I’ve spent my entire life with the Columbia River nearby -- born in the Dalles and now living in Hood River.

The nuclear waste here in Hanford has always been a worrisome neighbor for those of us that live around the Columbia.

The sludge has long been a threat of a potential environmental disaster and a source of pollution for Oregonians and others all throughout the Pacific Northwest.

The transfer of this nuclear waste is something that I have been working with Secretary Perry, Rep. Newhouse, and others on for a while now.
 
I am pleased that we not only accomplished the task we charged ourselves with, but we did so under budget and ahead of schedule. Let me say that again, because we are talking about the government here… under budget and ahead of schedule. I know that this is largely in part due to the great leadership of Secretary Perry.

The completion of the K-Basin sludge transfer is welcome news not just for Oregon and Washington, but for our environment at large.  Now that the cleanup is successfully done, the waste ought to be stored in a secure location in Yucca Mountain -- deep in the Nevada desert where it no longer runs the risk of contaminating our water.

Yucca Mountain was designated in 1978 by Congress to house our nation’s used nuclear material -- it was found that the Yucca mountain project could safely store this for one million years. However, politics has held this up from happening for far too long -- despite ratepayers and taxpayers paying billions of dollars towards the licensing and the construction of the facility at Yucca Mountain.

Nuclear energy produces zero greenhouse gas emissions, offers a low-cost power alternative for consumers, and supports our defense priorities. Having a permanent spot to dispose of our nuclear waste is imperative if we want to protect our environment and communities while also seizing upon the benefits that nuclear has to offer.

I know that removing all of this nuclear sludge was not an easy, nor simple task. In fact, it was dangerous in many ways -- if the sludge was exposed to air it would catch fire – not to mention the fact it is radioactive material as well.

I think a lot of people will rest easier knowing that it has now all been safely removed away from the Columbia River.

I want to thank all the incredible men and women who worked hard to remove this waste, and I want to thank Secretary Perry and his team at DOE, and all the workers out here on the ground made this accomplishment possible.