Ranking Member Smith Secures Critical Nuclear Safety and Whistleblower Protection Provisions in National Defense Authorization Act

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09), the Ranking Member on the House Armed Services Committee, today announced the inclusion of a package of provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that will provide critical support for the U.S. Department of Energy’s ongoing cleanup mission at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state.  

“It is the federal government’s moral and legal obligation to ensure that the communities surrounding Hanford are cared for, the employees working on the clean-up are respected and safe, and our environment is remediated and protected. Our country’s security owe much to the sacrifices made by the Hanford workers  and their communities in support of the nuclear defense programs that created the nuclear waste a currently stored at Hanford,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “The provisions contained in this year’s NDAA contribute to ensuring that the federal government fulfills its obligation to the Pacific Northwest for the safe remediation of the Hanford nuclear facility.”

Congressman Smith successfully fought to ensure that the following provisions were included in the NDAA:

  • Increased Budget allocations for Nuclear Clean-up: Authorizes an additional $50 million for Hanford site clean-up at the Central Plateau.
  • Pressing for nuclear safety and whistleblower protection: Includes a provision stating that the Secretary of Energy should impose civil penalties on contractors for violations of Department of Energy (DOE) rules, regulations, and orders relating to nuclear safety and radiation protection. It also enhances accountability by requiring notification of whether the Department of Energy has imposed any of these penalties pursuant to its authorities. This provision was in response to a 2016 GAO report that found that the Department of Energy had very infrequently used its enforcement authority to hold contractors accountable for unlawful retaliation.
  • Improved Transparency: Requires regular briefings to Congress on vapor problems at the Hanford site.
  • Increased Accountability: Requires prompt congressional notification in the case of air release of radioactive or hazardous contamination at Hanford, and requires congressional briefings on cause, estimated timeline and costs for addressing such contamination.
  • Recommits to the Hanford Waste Tank Clean-Up Program: Includes Congressman Dan Newhouse’s amendment to extend the Hanford waste tank clean-up program until 2024.