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19 More Reasons to Be Worried About the Hanford Nuclear Site
Problems at the most contaminated nuclear site in the nation continue to unfold.
In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy confirmed that one of the 28 double-shelled tanks storing nuclear waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation was leaking.
Now, inspection report documents released by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) show that six other double-shelled tanks—which hold roughly 5 million gallons of high-level waste—have similar, significant flaws that could lead to a leak.
In addition, the reviews showed that 13 other double-shelled tanks holding roughly 12 million gallons of high-level waste also posed concerns over their “long-term integrity.”
In a letter sent to Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz on Friday, Wyden wrote, in part:
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In addition to the 28 double-shelled storage tanks, Hanford holds 149 single shelled tanks. According to a report prepared for the DOE in May 2013, 67 are suspected of having leaked roughly 1 million gallons.
A year ago, Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee said that as much as 1,000 gallons of radioactive sludge may be leaking a year at Hanford, following news that there were six single-shelled underground storage tanks leaking radioactive waste.
Last month a Hanford cleanup subcontractor hired by the federal government, was firedafter calling attention to what she saw as the facility’s lack of safety precautions and ignoring of technological flaws.
In addition to risks from any of the 177 storage tanks leaking radioactive waste, a nuclear safety board warned last year that the double-shell tanks posed the potential threat of a hydrogen gas explosion “if adequate ventilation is not provided.”
“Watching the U.S. Department of Energy trying to clean-up the Hanford nuclear weapons production site up the Columbia River in Washington is a bit like watching the movie Groundhog Day: The problems at the site repeat over and over,” Wyden stated Saturday.
“It’s time to end the ever repeating excuses that mark DOE clean-up efforts at Hanford. It’s time for the movie to be over. It’s time for DOE to tell us what’s going on at Hanford and what it is going to do to respond to growing problems at the site.”
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