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Washington v. Chu

ELR Citation: 39 ELR 20056
Nos. No. 06-35227, (9th Cir., 03/10/2009)

The Ninth Circuit held that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) violated the Washington state Hazardous Waste Management Act (HWMA) in its management of mixed radioactive and hazardous waste, commonly known as TRUM, at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. DOE argued that it no longer has an obligation under the state HWMA, which acts in lieu of the federal provisions of the Resource Conservation and Recvoery Act, to treat TRUM waste or to limit the length of time such waste is stored at Hanford or any other location because the waste has been "designated" by the Secretary of Energy for disposal at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in accordance with the WIPP Land Withdrawal Amendment Act of 1996. But the designation exemption in the 1996 WIPP Amendments does not exempt designated TRUM wherever it may be located from the land disposal prohibitions or the storage prohibition of the state HWMA. Rather, the 1996 WIPP Amendments plainly exempt designated waste from the storage and land-disposal prohibitions "with respect to WIPP" only. Accordingly, the court affirmed a lower court's grant of summary judgment to the state of Washington.