New nonprofit wants to speed up Hanford cleanup, shift mission to energy

A new Tri-City nonprofit has formed to push for a faster cleanup at Hanford and transition to energy research and development.

Bob Ferguson, Bill Lampson and Gary Petersen established Northwest Energy Associates with the twin missions of advocating for a faster cleanup and for a long-term focus on energy research.

Ferguson, former U.S. Department of Energy executive and chief executive officer of the Washington Public Power Supply System, will chair the organization with Lampson, CEO of Lampson International Crane Service in Kennewick.

Petersen, retired vice president of federal programs for the Tri-City Development Council, will serve as volunteer president.

The group said the current plan to vitrify the 56 million gallons of radioactive waste contained in 177 underground tanks will transform Hanford into a defacto long-term storage site given the lack of progress on developing storage at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.

Ferguson, Lampson and Petersen previously teamed up to sue President Barack Obama and his administration for shutting down the Yucca Mountain Project, which was the destination for Hanford’s high-level nuclear waste disposal.

The case led to an August 2013 D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals order requiring the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to resume its review of Yucca Mountain, which it completed in 2015, according to a background report published on its website.

Northwest Energy Associates “will vigorously support the demonstration of tank waste treatment and immobilization methods recommended in recent reports by the U.S. Government Accountability Office and the National Academy of Sciences that are safer, faster, and one-fifth the cost of vitrification. The DOE is not actively supporting this initiative and the Washington State Department of Ecology has threatened to use its regulatory authority to block DOE’s effort to permit necessary site activities.”

The group’s second initiative is to convert Hanford into a center for clean energy development and research with the goal of promoting jobs and educational opportunities in the region.

Kathy Balcom, a Tri-City advertising executive, and Kate Lampson, of Lampson International, also sit on the NEA Board. Science writer Sallie Ortiz serves as website/newsletter editor and administrator. Coke Roth, Tri-City attorney, serves as its counsel.

Go to cleanuphanfordnow.org for more information.

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