6 Hanford Tanks Leaking Nuclear Waste: WA Gov
Posted by feww on February 23, 2013
Leaking tanks hold “two-thirds of the nation’s high-level nuclear waste”
Six Hanford underground tanks holding a brew of radioactive and toxic waste at the most contaminated nuclear site in the U.S. are leaking, says Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.
“None of these tanks would be acceptable for use today. They are all beyond their design life. None of them should be in service,” said Tom Carpenter of Hanford Challenge, a Hanford watchdog group. “And yet, they’re holding two-thirds of the nation’s high-level nuclear waste.”
Handford Site sits on 586-square-miles of shrub-steppe desert in southeastern Washington State, bordering the Columbia River. Six underground tanks are leaking radioactive waste. Hanford’s 177 tanks hold two-thirds of America’s high-level nuclear waste. Image source: United States Department of Energy
This aerial photo shows the Plutonium Finishing Plant complex. A red “X” has been placed on facilities that workers are demolishing. The plutonium vault complex consists of five ancillary structures and a larger building (2736-ZB) that once stored plutonium produced at Hanford during the Cold War for the U.S. nuclear weapons program. Source: US Dept of Energy
The tanks, built in the the 1940s with intended life span of 20 years, hold at least 53 million gallons (200 million liters) of highly radioactive waste, the leftover from plutonium production used in nuclear weapons.
State officials announced last week that one of Hanford’s 177 tanks was leaking up to 300 gallons a year, posing a risk to groundwater and rivers.
Gov Inslee said he had received the “very disturbing news” during meetings Friday that in fact six tanks are leaking.
The authorities say they haven’t yet detected higher radioactivity levels at nearby monitoring wells.
Hanford, home to several tribes of Native Americans and a small agricultural community in the state of Washington, was depopulated in 1943 along with the town of White Bluffs to make room for the nuclear production facility known as the Hanford Site.
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