Background and History
The Washington Department of Ecology was created in 1970 as Washington State's environmental regulatory agency. Their mission is to protect, preserve, and enhance Washington's land, air and water for current and future generations.
Ecology's role at Hanford
Ecology is the Washington State regulator of the Department of Energy, which operates and manages the Hanford Site. Ecology regulates Hanford cleanup along with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In addition to radioactive waste, Ecology also regulates chemical waste found at Hanford. EPA authorized Ecology to administer the dangerous waste permitting process from application through permit issuance or denial. Ecology's Hanford Dangerous Waste Permit applies to facilities that store, treat, or dispose of dangerous wastes .
Ecology has the authority to implement and enforce environmental laws and rules at Hanford relating to:
- Protecting our water supplies
- Protecting our air quality
- Managing and reducing waste
- Cleaning up contaminated water and land
- Reducing toxic substances in our environment
Nuclear Waste Program History
In 1988 Ecology created the Nuclear Waste Program, a program within the agency to deal directly with mixed radioactive and chemically hazardous wastes in Washington. Their primary focus of this is the cleanup project at the Hanford Site, although they are also responsible for wastes at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Western Washington and commercial, low-level waste disposal facilities near Hanford. The Nuclear Waste Program mission is “to ensure the sound management of nuclear waste statewide and to promote the sound management and protection of the environment at, and adjacent to, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Hanford Site.”