Energy Secretary Investigates Hanford's Waste Treatment Plant

Sep 4, 2012

U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu is at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation this week. Chu’s taking time out of his schedule to personally investigate concerns raised about Hanford’s massive waste treatment plant in southeast Washington.

Secretary Chu has a Ph.D. in physics. And he’s leading a top-flight team of eight nuclear and engineering experts in an on-site investigation into Hanford’s $12-billion waste treatment plant. They’re especially focused on the plant’s black cells. These are huge rooms inside the factory that will be so radioactively hot that they’re permanently sealed off from humans. Carrie Meyer is with the Department of Energy.

Meyer: “They may make recommendations for design changes or operational enhancements that may improve the performance and safety of the plant.”

Chu’s visit comes just as Hanford managers have now found a total of three areas of suspect material in the space between two walls of a double-hulled tank. Energy officials are planning further checks to determine what the stuff is and whether are more areas of concern.

Copyright 2012 Northwest Public Radio