Bryan Cohen Oct. 9, 2013, 8:20pm

SEATTLE (Legal Newsline) - Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson expressed disappointment Tuesday related to the federal government's news that it is at risk of failing to meet milestones related to the cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

The U.S. Department of Energy informed Ferguson's office on Tuesday that the government is at substantial risk of failing to meet three more milestones ordered by the court in a 2010 consent decree related to the cleanup at Hanford. As a result of the notice, all deadlines set out in the consent decree for the construction and operation of Hanford's Waste Treatment Plant between now and 2022 may be at risk.

"I am disappointed to learn that the federal government is now at serious risk of meeting its legal deadlines on the critical clean-up milestones at Hanford," Ferguson said. "Today's news is yet another setback in the federal government's ability to meet its court-ordered obligations to Washington state as laid out in the consent decree. Our office will continue to work diligently to provide our state clients with every legal option available to protect the health and safety of Washington residents."

Washington currently stores approximately 56 million gallons of nuclear waste in Hanford's leaking underground tanks. A 2010 consent decree defined milestones for building a waste treatment plant to dispose of the nuclear waste and for the retrieval of 19 single-shell storage tanks which are as far as 40 years past their design life.

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