WASHINGTON -- U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Governor Chris Gregoire issued the following joint statement on the cleanup efforts underway at Hanford:

"Over the past several months, the Department of Energy and the State of Washington have worked together closely to ensure the Waste Treatment Plant is on a stable path to resolving the technical issues, completing construction, and beginning to treat waste in the coming years.  

"Based on insight gathered from a number leading scientific experts, the Department is now confident construction activities at the High-Level Waste facility can begin to be ramped back up. 

"Also based on the advice of these experts, the Department is also seriously and expeditiously evaluating options to feed waste directly to the Low-Activity Waste and High-Level Waste facilities.  Those options could enable the project to start treating waste before the completion of the Pretreatment facility, and would increase the flexibility and reliability of the Hanford tank waste mission overall by building additional redundancy into the operations.

"We are pleased to be able to announce these important developments with the project, and we look forward to continued progress on this important project.  The State of Washington and DOE remain committed to the safe treatment of the tank waste and the completion of the cleanup at Hanford."