The Hanford workforce is aging and it is essential to recruit and train new employees. Hanford workers are well trained and experienced to perform these complex work activities, but their safety must be the highest priority. In order to prepare individuals for future Hanford jobs there needs to be a concerted effort to expand STEM education from primary grades through post-secondary programs. Apprenticeships and internships should be developed in partnership with local union programs, K-12 and Community Colleges. As DOE and their contractors reach out to hire individuals from outside of the Tri-Cities we should assist them by providing information about the quality of life in our region, the shared commitment to our vision and goals for the site, and related opportunities such as clean energy and advanced manufacturing in order to create a thriving and economically diverse community.
Local businesses have been a foundation of the professional and technical workforce at Hanford for decades. Many were hurt in recent years by unintended consequences of subcontracting policy changes. The Hanford Communities encourages DOE to continue and expand on efforts to meaningfully utilize local businesses, and to implement a plan to ensure a smoother transition during future contract transitions.
Manhattan Project National Historical Park & B Reactor
The Hanford Communities strongly supports efforts to grow and maximize the potential of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park at Hanford. In particular it is critical that the B Reactor roof be replaced, and that other facility maintenance activities and efforts to expand tour access be continued. An amendment to expand the boundary of the park at Hanford and a funding request for infrastructure improvements is also supported, as are preservation and restoration efforts for pre-Manhattan Project facilities located on the Hanford Site. It is important that these facilities, archives as well as the B Reactor be made accessible to the public through the combined efforts of the DOE and the National Parks Service.
The Hanford Communities believe it is time for a more robust conversation about future opportunities associated with the Department of Energy’s presence in the Tri-City area. It is noted that the federal missions at Hanford and PNNL include a high number of highly-skilled craftspeople, scientists and engineers whose capabilities could be harnessed for additional federal priorities such as clean energy development and national security. Additionally, thousands of acres of Hanford land is already designated for future industrial use that could be leveraged to support national and global efforts. Our community seeks future missions in the areas of clean energy, advanced nuclear, hydrogen, biosciences, environmental and computational sciences, energy storage, grid and cybersecurity, and advanced manufacturing.
The Hanford Communities encourages the Department of Energy to identify opportunities to ensure its contractors make meaningful contributions to the community, such as community projects and loaned executives, through the contracts’ Community Commitment Clauses.
HAMMER Training Center
Consistent and highly effective site-wide training requirements should apply to all contractors and subcontractors. HAMMER has repeatedly demonstrated its value to meet Hanford’s comprehensive training needs. The upcoming change in operational focus will increase the need for site- wide training programs to ensure the safety and efficiency of workers on site. The Hanford Communities encourage DOE to explore opportunities to continue to expand the facility’s missions and capabilities in the future.
Economic Development & Diversification
The Hanford Communities support transferring surplus Hanford assets, including land and facilities back to the community via CFR770 and the local Community Reuse Organization (CRO) to foster creation of private- sector jobs and diversification of the regional economy. Additionally, we encourage TRIDEC and DOE to put in place a new agreement and procedure to replace the incentive funds that TRIDEC previously generated through the TARC program. These incentive funds are critically important to the continued economic growth of our community.
Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT)
In 1996, DOE entered into agreements with Benton, Franklin, and Grant counties to provide PILT payments based on historical use of the site before the lands were expropriated by the Manhattan Project. PILT funds are distributed by the counties to local entities including school districts, library districts, and hospital districts, among others, to support the provision of basic public services. A new formula for calculating Hanford PILT billings has been implemented. DOE should request adequate resources to fully fund the PILT program in their federal budget request.
Public Information & Involvement
In 1998, the Hanford Communities and the Washington State Department of Ecology identified the need to more fully engage the Tri-Cities metropolitan region in the Hanford cleanup. A program was developed to inform area residents and stimulate meaningful involvement. The Hanford Communities recognize that this program will continue to be a high priority during 2022. It is the goal of the Hanford Communities to renew the program and contract with the Department of Ecology for the next state fiscal year. We also encourage DOE to refocus their outreach to the residents of the region closest to, and most directly impacted by, the Hanford Site.
Local Governments as Host Communities & Service Providers
Although good relationships exist between local area governments and local DOE offices, ports, cities and counties adjoining DOE sites are often relegated to the subordinate role of special interest groups. It is important the DOE acknowledge that local elected officials have authority and responsibility for services used by DOE such as sewer, water, electricity, roads, law enforcement, and emergency response. Local elected officials also have regulatory authority over land use planning and economic development on land adjacent to the Hanford Site. DOE-RL, DOE-ORP and their contractors should partner with local government to make maximum use of their capabilities. DOE must also work to address traffic congestion generated by the Hanford commute, along with wear and tear of roads caused by activities at the Hanford Site.
The Hanford Communities believe that DOE should increase its funding to the Benton and Franklin Emergency Management Agencies, either through its allocation to the state or directly to the local counties. Whether a large brushfire, a transportation accident involving hazardous waste, or a radioactive materials incident, emergencies at Hanford directly affect our local communities and its citizens. Cooperation, coordination and communications between DOE and local emergency responders is essential. DOE provides funding for emergency management to the State of Washington and the state passes these funds on to county emergency management agencies including Benton and Franklin counties. Funding for local emergency preparedness necessary to coordinate with Hanford has not kept pace with inflation, and costs such as PERS and health insurance continue to rise much faster than the available funding from DOE.
Hanford Advisory Board (HAB)
The Hanford Communities encourages the Tri-Party Agencies to ensure that the HAB serves as an important voice for Tri-City community members, Tribal representatives and other key stakeholders to meaningfully make their voices heard regarding Hanford cleanup, and to feel like their time is being well spent. We also encourage DOE to streamline the nomination process for the HAB to ensure appointments are made in a timely manner, and explore expanding membership terms from two years to three.