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.
Professional and Technical local business are being impacted by DOE contracting. We support DOE in competing of contracts however we believe the current process has resulted in unintended consequences to local businesses that have been a foundation of the technical and professional workforce at Hanford. ECA and Hanford communities request that DOE does not implement this new policy at any other EM site until an analysis has been made outlining the potential short and long-term impacts of DOE on the community at large. DOE should then implement a plan to ensure a smoother transition that will not unnecessarily jeopardize the viability of local small businesses.
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. Additionally, the Hanford workforce should be provided the ability to make contributions that support local needs such as the United Way and other charities through automatic payroll deductions.
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 excess personal property 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. We encourage TRIDEC and DOE to put in place a new agreement and procedure to replace the previous TARC program. Additionally, the Hanford Communities reminds the Department of Energy of its commitment under CFR770.5 to annually notify the CRO of any real property that could be transferred to the community.
Payment in Lieu of Taxes
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, 5 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 developed and accepted by all parties. DOE should request funding to meet the commitment in their federal budget request. The Hanford Communities support payment levels that are on-time, in-whole, and are otherwise consistent with the agreements.
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.