Published on Saturday, February 16, 2013 by Common Dreams
Repeated calls to address problems at facility ‘met with silence’ by state and federal officials
- Common Dreams Staff
Reports that a storage tank for nuclear waste at the Hanford Nuclear
facility in Washington state–one of the most contaminated nuclear waste
sites in the country–is leaking radioactive waste were confirmed that
state’s governor Friday.
The Environmental Restoration Disposal Facility is seen at the Hanford
Nuclear Reservation June 30, 2005 near Richland, Washington. (Photo by
Jeff T. Green/Getty Images) As the Associated Press reports:
The news raises concerns about the integrity of similarThe Northwest News Network, in an interview
tanks at south-central Washington’s Hanford nuclear reservation and puts
added pressure on the federal government to resolve construction
problems with the plant being built to alleviate environmental and
safety risks from the waste.
The tanks, which are already long past their intended 20-year life
span, hold millions of gallons of a highly radioactive stew left from
decades of plutonium production for nuclear weapons.
On Friday, the U.S. Department of Energy said liquid levels are
decreasing in one of 177 underground tanks at the site. Monitoring wells
near the tank have not detected higher radiation levels, but Inslee
said the leak could be in the range of 150 gallons to 300 gallons over
the course of a year and poses a potential long-term threat to
groundwater and rivers.
with Tom Carpenter, head of the Seattle-based watchdog group Hanford
Challenge, found that Friday’s news highlights the fact that problems
have been endemic to the site for years and there’s not even a place to
transfer the contained waste or a place to return any that may be
recovered from spills or leaks.
“If you have another leak, what do you do?,” ask Carpenter. “You
don’t have any strategy for that. And the Hanford Advisory Board and the
state of Washington and Hanford Challenge and others have been calling
upon the Department of Energy to build new tanks. That call has been met
And the Chicago Tribune adds:
Though more than a third of the 149 old single-shell
tanks at the site are suspected to have leaked up to 1 million gallons
of nuclear waste over the years, this is the first confirmed leak since
federal authorities completed a so-called stabilization program in 2005
that was supposed to have removed most liquids from the vulnerable
The new leak calls into question the effectiveness of that program,
and state officials said it increased the urgency of ending roadblocks
to a permanent storage solution for the 53 million gallons of waste
housed at the sprawling site that was a center for atomic bomb-making
material after World War II.
Nuclear Dump in Washington Leaking Radioactive Waste | Common Dreams.
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