RICHLAND, Wash. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Energy plans to extend two major environmental cleanup contracts for up to a year at a contaminated nuclear site in Washington state.

The Tri-City Herald reported Tuesday that the extensions were granted at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation rather than establishing new contracts that might have caused delays.

Officials say the contracts enable cleanup work being done by about 5,000 workers to continue uninterrupted.

The Plutonium Uranium Extraction Plant was built in 1956 and is heavily contaminated after being used to help produce plutonium for the nation's nuclear weapons program.

Washington River Protection Solutions is expected to continue managing and retrieve 56 million gallons (212 million liters) of radioactive waste in underground tanks.

CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co. is expected to continue cleanup at the site's center.

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Information from: Tri-City Herald, http://www.tri-cityherald.com

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