Hanford Expert: Possible Tank Leak Doesn’t Change Goal Of Stabilizing Waste

Aug 23, 2012

Next month scientists at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation plan to use a robotic rover to examine an underground tank full of radioactive waste that has possibly leaked. The spill isn’t a threat at this point to people or the environment. But the possible leak is raising questions about long-term plans for treating and storing 56 million gallons of radioactive waste.

Susan Leckband chairs the Hanford Advisory Board. She says the possible leak isn’t a game changer – she thinks the government can still figure out how to bind up that waste into more-stable glass logs.

Leckband: “I think the ultimate goal is to vitrify the high level and low activity waste into logs so that it’s stabilized and protects human health and the environment. Does it mean that the route might change a little bit? It may, it may.”

Leckband says that the Department of Energy may have to build new storage tanks to hold the waste if the tanks are found to be less stable than previously thought. The Energy department hopes to have a massive factory to treat the radioactive waste up and running by 2019.

Copyright 2012 Northwest Public Radio