Hanford Waste Plant’s Vessels May Have To Be Redesigned Says Top-Level U.S. Energy Official

Mar 21, 2012

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Parts of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation’s massive waste treatment plant may have to be redesigned. That’s according to testimony Wednesday in Washington, D.C. by a top level manager for the U.S. Department of Energy.

This is one of the Congressional budget committees that decides how much to spend on nuclear cleanup projects. Lawmakers heard from David Huizenga, one of the Department of Energy’s top environmental cleanup managers. He testified there are now delays on finishing and installing the enormous mixing tanks for Hanford’s waste treatment plant.

High-level scientists and engineers have raised safety concerns about the tanks and mixers at Hanford. But Huizenga says some of the expensive vessels have already been welded closed.

“Time will tell whether in the end that was a good management decision because we will be able to place those vessels on schedule, or whether we’re going to have to actually take the tops off the vessels and make some adjustments and make some adjustments to the mixing devices inside,” Huizenga says.

Huizenga says an “aggressive” testing program should have some results by next year to determine whether the current design is sound.


Matt Laslo contributed to this report.

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