Oak Ridge reservation cleanup estimate rises to $18 billion

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (AP) – The estimate of how much money it will take to complete the government’s environmental cleanup responsibilities in Oak Ridge by the year 2047 has risen to $18 billion.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports (http://bit.ly/1IFRfV4) a U.S. Department of Energy spokesman gave the estimate at about $12 billion last year. But earlier this month DOE gave the new figure.

Mike Koentop is executive officer of the DOE’s cleanup program in Oak Ridge. He said the earlier figure was a mistake based on insufficient information.

The $6 billion error underscores the many uncertainties associated with the environmental cleanup of the site contaminated by decades of nuclear research and production.

Among other things, Congress appropriates money for the cleanup each year. If appropriations decline, the cleanup period will take longer and cost more.