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U.S. Department of Energy and contractor reach $30,000 settlement with EPA over spill notification failure

Release Date: 06/09/2008
Contact Information: Suzanne Powers, EPA/Olympia, WA 360-753-9475 Mark MacIntyre, EPA/Seattle 206-553-7302,

(Seattle, Washington – June 9, 2008) The Department of Energy and CH2M Hill, their cleanup contractor for the Hanford Facility, have agreed to pay a $6800 penalty to the United States Environmental Protection Agency for failing to immediately notify the National Response Center following a spill of radioactive waste at the Facility in 2007. In addition to the penalty, the Company will spend $24,000 to provide new equipment for local emergency responders.

CH2M Hill, Hanford Group, Inc. was performing work for the Department of Energy at Hanford, when approximately 114 gallons of mixed (hazardous and radioactive) tank waste spilled from tank piping into the environment. The waste contained a number of radio nuclides. Two radionuclides, Cesium-137 and Strontium-90 were initially calculated by DOE to be above the Reportable Quantity. Preliminary data from the S-102 dilution hose line sample later confirmed that the RQ was exceeded for Cesium-137. The quantity of Cesium-137 released was calculated to be 2.83 Ci, compared to the RQ of 1.0 Ci.

According to Mike Bussell, Director of EPA’s Office of Compliance and Enforcement in Seattle, prompt notification regarding the release of hazardous materials “can be a matter of life or death.”

“We expect the best from the Department of Energy and its contractors at Hanford,” said EPA’s Bussell. “When spills occur, immediate notification protects workers, responders and the community. Failure to notify the authorities promptly is not only against the law, it can cost people their lives.”

As part of the settlement, the Department of Energy and the Company have agreed to provide two(2) Panasonic Toughbook laptop computers with special plume modeling capability and eight high pressure Self Contained Breathing Apparatus(SCBA) air bottles to the Tri-County Hazardous Materials Response Team.

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*For more on Strontium 90 and Cesium 137, go to:

For more about EPA’s work at Hanford, visit: