Legal Memorandum In Support of Criminal Investigation and Enforcement

Hanford Wild Fire, Illegal Storage of Hazardous Wastes, Failures to Notify

  1. Emergency Planning and Hazardous Substance Reporting Required: Violation
1.1. Emergency Planning provisions of Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA) / SARA Sec. 302. Extremely hazardous substances in quantities above Threshold Planning Quantities (TPQ) are likely present in 350 barrels exhumed from 618-4 Burial Ground and improperly stored for over two years on bare ground, exposed to elements. See Sec. 302(b). Reporting of barrel contents and planning not conducted.
1.1.1. CERCLA Record of Decision provides no shield for illegal storage of wastes exhumed. ROD is based on full compliance with applicable laws and regulations. If wastes are illegally stored, rather than exhumed and disposed per the plan in the RoD, then EPCRA and SARA requirements apply, as well as RCRA and Washington hazardous waste storage requirements.

1.1.2. 42 USC 11022 required inventory as did Washington law, SEE WAC 173-303-610(a).

1.1.3. Inventory requirements include specifics on location and manner of storage; SEE 42 USC 1102292)(D) and (E).

1.2. Local comprehensive emergency response plan failed to identify the known explosive and flammable hazards, and associated chemical and radiological release hazards, from the barrels, pursuant to SARA Sec. 303.
1.2.1. Documents obtained via Freedom of Information Act reveal that hazards were known and discussed internally in 1998. Sec 303( c ) (2) plan required USDOE to specify: "methods and procedures to be followed by facility owners and operators and local emergency and medical personnel to respond to any release of such substances". Documents show USDOE or contractors had knowledge of hazard of barrels catching fire and increased risks from the most likely response by fire fighters ( adding water or dirt ). Plan to fight a fire involving the barrels was not created per Sec. 303; "procedures for notification by facility to emergency coordinator and public that release occurred" . Sec. 303( c )(4). Plan does exist, but plan was violated by willful failure to disclose that contaminated areas burned, and apparent deliberate choice not to monitor at or directly downwind from burned areas of contamination. No monitoring locations were established by USDOE at or adjacent to the burned over contaminated areas outside the southern area of 200 West. Monitoring of the B-C cribs area was also inadequate. "methods for determining if release occurred". Sec. 303( c )(6). See above. Plan either failed to specify that burned areas of contamination be immediately monitored, or the Plan was inadequate. "Training programs…" Sec. 303 (c)(8): inadequate regarding monitoring of areas of contamination subject to frequent wild fires; inadequate with regard to fighting fires involving exhumed waste barrels; inadequate regarding environmental restoration workforce for radiological and chemical hazards for handling exhumed barrels with Gamma radiation and hazardous chemicals.

1.3  Local comprehensive emergency response plan was inadequate for wildfire, and assumed that fire conditions could not include fire across high percentage of Hanford Site. However, previous fire history showed that this was a highly likely occurrence.
2.  Failure to Notify of Releases and Potential Releases directly impacted human health and the environment, and led to greater than necessary exposures:
2.1. Federal and state laws required immediate notification of release / potential release from burned areas of contamination:
2.1.1. 42 USC 9603 notice to National Response Center, which provides notice to state
2.1.2. 42 USC 11004 notice to community emergency response coordinator an state emergency planning coordinator.
2.1.3. WAC 173-303-360 requires immediate notification to state of release of hazardous substance - including radiation - posing threat to human health and environment. For all notification requirements, USDOE's failure to notify of release from areas of contamination which had burned, and willful failure to disclose to emergency response coordinators that areas of contamination outside the 200 West Area had burned, was the proximate cause of probable radiation exposures (including Plutonium) to fire fighters, and to the public following opening of Highway 240. The decision to open Highway 240, less than two miles from the burned areas of contamination, and clearly in the path of the plume, was made based on USDOE's knowingly false statements that no areas of contamination had burned and the failure to notify of the releases. These violations had immediate health consequences, which are now nearly impossible to determine, as well as longer term environmental consequences.
2.1.4. Notice is required to ensure communication of health risks and medical advice and "proper precautions to take…" from release. 42 USC 11004(b)(2)(F) and (G). Violation led to fire fighters exposed without any appropriate monitoring for exposure and without immediate follow up testing for exposures (nasal smears, urine analyses, equipment smears). Violation led to offsite fire fighting crews being on site and exposed without personal dosimeters. Violations of ( c )(2) and ( c ) (3) regarding advice for medical attention to exposed individuals and written follow up reporting of health risks from the release.
3. Contractor management failed to notify regulators (and possibly USDOE) of barrel contents and risks, need for emergency response planning, need for appropriate storage:
3.1. Price - Anderson criminal violation potential: contractor had knowledge of higher than expected radiation levels, presence of Gamma emitters and probable fission products, presence of chemicals and failed to plan or disclose. Could have led to extremely high danger release of radionuclides in plume if one barrel caught fire. Documents show that if one caught fire, likely that most of the 350 would explode. Documents reveal extremely high nuclear safety consequence (exacerbated by location near City of Richland and Columbia River).

3.2. USDOE Office of Environment, Safety and Health, Office of Enforcement and Investigation outlined corrective actions required and "Action Plan". December 30, 1997. Regarding barrels and notifications of offsite and onsite releases of radionuclides, these corrective actions and action plans were violated.

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