Six leaking tanks latest problem
By Shannon Dininny, APYAKIMA, Washington -- Federal and state officials say six underground tanks holding a brew of radioactive and toxic waste are leaking at the country's most contaminated nuclear site in south-central Washington state, raising concerns about delays for emptying the aging tanks.
February 25, 2013, 12:46 am TWN
The leaking materials at Hanford Nuclear Reservation pose no immediate risk to public safety or the environment because it would take perhaps years for the chemicals to reach groundwater, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said Friday.
But the news has renewed discussion over delays for emptying the tanks, which were installed decades ago and are long past their intended 20-year life span.
“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.” 300 gallons (1135.59 liters)
Just last week, state officials announced that one of Hanford's 177 tanks was leaking 150 to 300 gallons (570 to 1,140 liters) a year, posing a risk to groundwater and rivers. So far, nearby monitoring wells haven't detected higher radioactivity levels.
Inslee then traveled to Washington, D.C., to discuss the problem with federal officials, learning in meetings Friday that six tanks are leaking.
The declining waste levels in the six tanks were missed because only a narrow band of measurements was evaluated, rather than a wider band that would have shown the levels changing over time, Inslee said.