From: Associated Press
Published March 24, 2005 12:00 AM

Federal Government Awards Contracts to Clean Up Washington, Idaho Nuclear Sites

YAKIMA, Wash. — The U.S. Department of Energy awarded two contracts valued in the billions of dollars Wednesday to clean up portions of two nuclear sites in Washington and Idaho.

A $1.9 billion contract was awarded to Washington Closure LLC, a team of five companies led by Boise, Idaho-based Washington Group, to clean up the 210-square-mile Columbia River corridor at southcentral Washington's Hanford nuclear reservation.

A separate $2.9 billion contract was awarded to the team of CH2M Hill and Washington Group to treat and dispose of radioactive waste at the Idaho National Laboratory. CH2M Hill is based in Denver.

Both contracts run through 2012, the department said.

For 40 years, the Hanford reservation made plutonium for the nation's nuclear weapons arsenal. It's the nation's most contaminated nuclear site. Cleanup costs are expected to total $50 billion to $60 billion. The work, under way since 1994, is supposed to be finished by 2035.

At the Idaho National Laboratory, Cold War-era radioactive waste was dumped into unlined pits that sit over the Snake River Plain aquifer, which supplies water to much of southern Idaho.

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