Energy Secretary Might Get Hands-On With Hanford Plant

Jun 15, 2012

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu fielded questions about safety at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation Friday. He assured hundreds of workers listening in a Richland park that challenges in the massive cleanup of radioactive waste are getting attention at the highest level.

Secretary Chu said he’s really serious about wanting safety at Hanford. He’s particularly focused on the site’s $12 billion waste treatment plant, now under construction. It’s meant to stabilize 56 million gallons of radioactive waste.

Chu says he wants to return to Hanford with a team of outside experts. He says high brain-powered teams like this helped him during Japan’s nuclear disaster and the Gulf oil spill.

“I think it would do well if I could get some of those people that helped and a few others," Chu said. "And we can spend a week and come down and look at the plant to see if there is anything that’s been overlooked.”

Chu assured workers he’s carefully studying questions about if the treatment plant can work for the 40 years it’s supposed to. He said he’d also look into worker concerns over safety at the tank farms where waste is currently stored underground.

Copyright 2012 Northwest Public Radio