RICHLAND, Wash. – When you think of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, its radioactive legacy usually comes to mind. But, there’s more to clean up than just the site’s nuclear waste.
The Department of Energy wants to cut back commuter traffic at the nation’s most contaminated nuclear site.
Nearly 10,000 workers travel to and from Hanford on a daily basis. That’s a lot of traffic, and most of those cars hold just one person.
Jessica Green is with Brightworks Sustainability Advisors, a group that is helping lead the project. She says people commute to the Hanford Site from many different areas: the Tri-Cities, Yakima, Wash., and Hermiston, Ore.
“There’s just so many cars and so much traffic that gets bumper-to-bumper all the way home,” Green says.
Brightworks, along with Vista Engineering, is recommending several commuting alternatives:
Car pooling with two or more employees in each car. The companies looked at employee zip code information to identify central locations for ride sharing.
Increasing bus and vanpool ridership. KC Kuykendall says Benton-Franklin Transit has one of the largest fleets in the Pacific Northwest. “The preponderance of that vanpool is going out and back to the Hanford Site everyday,” Kuykendall says. That number still needs to be increased.
Telecommuting two days each week. Employees who do not need to be at the site every day could work from home twice a week, through secure remote access programs. Greenhouse gas emissions would be lowered further if these employees lived farther away, like Yakima.
Moving 2,070 employees to offices in Richland, Wash. This solution would be for workers who are not doing the physical labor and are not needed on site. “If you consider the vehicle distance from downtown Richland out to the plateau, it’s somewhere around 30 miles,” Kuykendall says. “Probably the 90th percentile of the workforce is all within 10 miles of downtown Richland.”
Brightworks’ Chris Forney says reducing greenhouse gases is a way forward for the larger clean up effort.
“If there is a future out of that, perhaps, darker past, it’s to look at it in the context of the great challenges we have ahead of us: climate change,” Forney says.
They estimate, together, these efforts could reduce Hanford’s total greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent.
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