Comment Writing Guides

Hanford Ice Cream Social. Photo courtesy of J.J. Stein.

Documents pave the path to decisions about how Hanford waste sites will be cleaned up.  The most direct way to impact those decisions is to comment on documents during a public comment period.  If you are new to writing a comment or have been writing comments since you were a child, this is the place for you.

Our Say What? guides were created to make it easier for you to find all relevant information for a specific public comment period.  The guide lists relevant documents, fact sheets, public meetings, deadlines, the various ways you can submit your comment and whenever possible, existing comments from various organizations and advice from the Hanford Advisory Board.

You can always weigh in on cleanup anytime by contacting your elected officials and sharing your input with others by commenting on news stories and writing letters to the editor.  You can also ask questions, share your input, and express your concerns with the Tri-Party Agencies by emailing

Public Comment Period for Revisions to the Hanford Air Operating Permit

The Hanford Air Operating Permit (AOP) regulates the emission of air pollution at the Hanford site, and is being revised. AOPs are required under the federal Clean Air Act, but most are issued by state and local agencies. They are legally enforceable, and include detailed requirements for monitoring and controlling the release of airborne toxic and radioactive substances. Changes proposed for this permit include:

  • A new radioactive air emissions license from the Washington State Department of Health
  • Adding new diesel engines, which are no longer mobile, to the permit
  • Reformatting the toxic emission units section of the permit to centralize all the information for each unit

Check out our Say What? guide for more background information and help with writing your comment. We also have a sample public comment for you to reference here in word format or here in pdf format. All comments must be submitted to Philip Gent at by May 8.

Proposed Modifications to the WTP RCRA Permit

The Washington Department of Ecology is soliciting comments on modifications to the Hanford Facility Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Permit for the Treatment, Storage, and Disposal of Dangerous Waste for the Waste Treatment Plant (WTP). The proposed changes include two documents that contain design changes to the Low-Activity Waste, High-Level Waste, and Pretreatment facilities of the WTP. The modifications would also allow new construction at the Failed Melter Storage Building and the Low-Activity Waste (LAW) Facility. More information about proposed permit changes can be found here. Check out our Say What? Guide for background information and help with writing your comment. You can also view our sample comment. Comments can be sent to Erika Holmes at by December 20, 2013.

Proposed Cleanup Plan for Hanford’s 300 Area

The Tri-Party Agreement Agencies (TPA) are soliciting your input on its proposed plan for cleaning up the 300 Area of the Hanford nuclear site, in southeastern Washington State.  The 300 Area is where fuel was manufactured and it presents several unique challenges for cleanup of contaminated soil and groundwater.  You can participate by sharing your input about the preferred alternative for cleaning up this site, which is identified in the Proposed Plan.  Check out our Say What? Guide for more information.  Submit comments by email to: by September 16, 2013.

Fiscal Year 2015 Hanford Field Office Budget Requests for Submittal to DOE Headquarters

Every year the Department of Energy’s Hanford field offices, Richland Operations (RL) and Office of River Protection (ORP) prepare draft budgets to be submitted to Department of Energy Headquarters. The public has a chance to weigh in on the budget proposals and priorities prior to the submittal of these requests.  This is your chance to share comments about how certain cleanup projects should be prioritized. Send your comments via email to by June 7, 2013.  Check out our Say What? Guide to the Budget for more information, as well as our Hanford Budget Cheat Sheet for FY 2015, 2014, and 2013.

2013 Lifecycle, Scope, Schedule, and Cost Report

The US Department of Energy has issued the 2013 Hanford Lifecycle, Scope, Schedule, and Cost Report. This annually updated report serves as the basis for preparing budget requests and for providing informational briefings. It is also used to support discussion with Hanford regulators, EPA, and the Department of Ecology on how and when the Department of Energy will complete cleanup, and how milestone changes will affect cleanup scope, schedule, and cost.  The Report is a milestone requirement under the Tri-Party Agreement and reflects all cleanup work that must be completed by both of DOE Office of River Protection and Richland Operations.  All comments on the report need to be in writing and submitted by April 12, 2013 to Stephen Korenkiewicz . Check out our Say What Guide!

Proposed Tri-Party Agreement Changes to Prioritize Additional Cleanup Work

Weigh in! The Tri-Party Agencies want your input on some proposed delays for Hanford cleanup.  These delays are expressed as changes to the Hanford Federal Facility Agreement and Consent Order (also known as the Tri-Party Agreement or TPA), which is a legal agreement between the US Department of Energy (DOE), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology). The TPA identifies cleanup actions and schedules, called milestones. Check out our Say What? Guide here. Email comments to by January 24th, 2013.

Scoping Period for the Environmental Assessment for the Proposed Conveyance of Land at the Hanford Site

Weigh in! The Department of Energy is preparing an Environmental Assessment (EA) to look at the environmental impacts of a potential conveyance of 1,641 acres of land to the Tri-City Development Council (TRIDEC). “Convey” means potential transfer, lease, easement or similar actions.  The land under consideration is designated for industrial uses in the Hanford Site Comprehensive Land Use Plan.

DOE is working to create a maximum impact land use scenario to assess environmental impacts on the 300-area land under consideration.  Your input will inform how DOE performs its environmental assessment of the 4,400 acre area of land on the Hanford Site to determine if, where, and under what circumstances 1,641 acres of land might be conveyed for industrial use. What do you think the DOE should consider when assessing the environmental impacts of the TRIDEC proposal?  Are there any land uses you do or do not want DOE to consider? Are there parameters you would like DOE to include in the EA? Check out our Say What? Guide and Memo about the proposal. Email comments to by Friday, October 19, 2012.

Hanford’s Dangerous Waste Permit

**UPDATE** On January 16, 2013 Ecology announced that it is going to revise and reissue a DRAFT Dangerous Waste Permit due to new information and issues raised by the many people and organizations who commented on the Draft Permit between May 1st and October 22, 2012.  The revisions are expected to occur over a two year period of time and then the REVISED portions of the DRAFT Dangerous Waste Permit will be open for public comment and review.  For more information contact

The Washington Department of Ecology released its DRAFT Hanford Facility Dangerous Waste Permit on May 1, 2012.  The comment period for this document ends on October 22, 2012.  The last time the entire permit was out for review was 1994.  This is a complex document made up of 39 mini-permits called units that contain conditions for the treatment, storage, and disposal of mixed chemical and radioactive waste.  Hanford Challenge put together a  Say What? Guide to commenting on the Department of Ecology’s Permit.  It links to different parts of the document, presentations, information repositories, and the public meeting schedule.  Not sure where to start? Check out some of the questions we’re asking to get started on this 16,000 page document.

Revised Public Involvement Plan

Say What? Guide to commenting on the TPA Agencies Revised Public Involvement Plan.  The Public Involvement Plan outlines ways you can be involved in Hanford site cleanup decision-making processes and serves as the overall guidance document for public participation and outreach activities at Hanford. Comments are due November 28, 2011.  The Guide lists upcoming public meetings and resources to help you craft your comment.

2011 Hanford Lifecycle, Scope, Schedule and Cost Report

The annually updated Lifecycle, Scope, Schedule and Cost Report serves as a basis for preparing budget requests and includes things like the estimate of the total cost for cleanup ($115 Billion).  This cost includes long-term stewardship costs like maintaining fences and barriers through 2090.  This the the first year the report has been issued.  The next report is scheduled for release in 2012.  Check out our Say What? guide to write a comment on the report.  Comments are due November 10, 2011.

PW- 1,3,6 and CW-5: Cleanup Plan for 21 Waste Sites on Hanford’s Central Plateau

Thanks everyone who commented on the cleanup plan for 21 plutonium and cesium waste sites on Hanford’s Central Plateau.  The final Record of Decision (ROD) has been issued.  Unfortunately, it does not reflect the multitude of public comments asking for more plutonium to be removed.  Check out the Record of Decision here and our Say What? Guide to commenting on the Proposed Plan. Comments were due September 6, 2011. We recommend you read the Responsiveness Summary from page 110-125 of the ROD which captures public comments and DOE and EPA’s response.

Stay tuned for more information.  Hanford Challenge has reviewed the ROD in detail. The Hanford Advisory Board will also be discussing the ROD at the River and Plateau Committee meeting in December 2011.



“Say What?” is being developed with support from the New Mexico Community Foundation.  If you have any feedback on this tool please email

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