2004 Online Voters' Guide: Measures

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Note: The ballot title and explanatory statement were written by the Attorney General as required by law. The Fiscal Impact Statement was written by the Office of Financial Management.


Initiative Measure No. 297 concerns “mixed” radioactive and nonradioactive hazardous waste.

This measure would add new provisions concerning “mixed” radioactive and nonradioactive hazardous waste, requiring cleanup of contamination before additional waste is added, prioritizing cleanup, providing for public participation and enforcement through citizen lawsuits.

Should this measure be enacted into law?

Yes [ ] No [ ]


Summary of Fiscal Impact

Initiative 297 would prohibit disposal at contaminated facilities, such as the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, of mixed radioactive hazardous waste from off-site sources until on-site wastes are properly managed and the sites comply with all state and federal environmental standards. The initiative also would increase grant funding to help the public and local governments to evaluate whether these standards are being met, and to review funding priorities. Over the first five years of implementation, additional grant funding of $4.8 million and implementation costs of $3.5 million would be paid, primarily by the federal government through surcharges on current mixed waste fees.


Assumptions for Analysis of I-297

  • Start-up: A February 1, 2005, start-up date is assumed.

  • Grants: The annual public and local government participation grant program is calculated to be $1.2 million per year starting in 2006, the initiative’s formula for the current Hanford clean-up budget of $2 billion authorized by the federal government (.0015 times the first $200 million plus .0005 times the balance of $1.8 billion).

  • Fees: The initiative specifies a calculation for the Department of Ecology’s (Ecology) annual mixed waste management fee that could total $11 million per year, based on a $2 billion annual Hanford clean-up budget (not less than 1-percent of the first $200 million plus .0005 times the remaining balance of $1.8 billion). Ecology would bill the federal Department of Energy (Energy) for the actual costs incurred to implement its regulatory program. Based on Ecology’s current costs of approximately $5 million per year and the projected costs to implement the initiative, it is not anticipated that the annual billing would reach $11 million per year.

  • Regulatory implementation costs: Ecology’s implementation costs, other than the grant program listed above and the commercial low-level waste disposal facility costs listed below, are estimated to total $3.3 million for the first five years. These costs include amending existing laws, issuing permits, developing revised clean-up standards, and issuing an order that Energy stop additional disposal of mixed wastes at Hanford until the site meets the revised clean-up standards.

  • Permit appeals: Under Initiative 297, some of Ecology’s actions could be appealed to the Pollution Control Hearings Board (PCHB) or other courts. The PCHB estimates that five appeals may be filed each year, at an estimated cost of $49,000 per year beginning in 2005, until the appeals are resolved.

  • Environmental impact analysis: The commercial low-level waste disposal facility at Hanford also would be required to comply with the revised clean-up standards. The Department of Health and Ecology would complete a supplemental environmental impact statement for the site during the 2005-06 period due to the revised clean-up standards, at an estimated cost of $200,000. These costs would be paid for by fees charged for waste disposal at this site – or the state General Fund if fee implementation is delayed. Additional costs, if any, to implement the revised clean-up standards are not known at this time. Any additional costs would be paid from fees already collected from generators, packagers, and brokers who have disposed of waste at this site.

(For more in-depth Office of Financial Management analysis, visit www.ofm.wa.gov/initiatives/default.htm .)

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