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State v. Abraham

ELR Citation: 35 ELR 20032
Nos. No. CV-03-5018-AAM, (E.D. Wash., 01/24/2005)

A district court granted the state of Washington's motion for partial summary judgment on its claim that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) violated the Washington State Hazardous Waste Management Act (HWMA) when it decided to ship radioactive and hazardous mixed transuranic waste to the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. DOE argued that 1996 Amendments to the Land Withdrawal Act precludes the state from applying the HWMA's land disposal restriction provisions to transuranic waste mixed with non-radioactive hazardous waste (TRUM) bound for Hanford or already stored there. Yet the plain language of the Act reveals that the TRUM exemption applies only to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) located in New Mexico. At a minimum, the language "designated by the Secretary for disposal at WIPP" is ambiguous, requiring examination of the legislative history of the 1996 Amendments. This examination leads to the conclusion that the exemption applies only to WIPP, and that federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and Washington State HWMA regulations pertaining to treatment standards and disposal and storage prohibitions remain in effect at Hanford with respect to TRUM already stored there or intended to be shipped there.