Preparing For The Worst; Hanford Officials Deal With Leaking Tank
Now to the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington. Workers are readying pumping equipment at a slow-leaking radioactive waste tank in case the leak gets worse. A newly released report details why the tank became unstable.
Hanford officials say so far they’ve found no waste leaking into the environment from the tank called AY-102. The new report says many of the tanks original welds from 40 years ago didn’t meet standards and had to be fixed before it was filled. Later, super-hot waste was added that was likely corrosive to the tank’s metal walls. John Britton is with the contractor that manages these tanks for the federal government. He says his company is getting ready to pump the waste out of the tank in case that becomes necessary.
Britton: “We’re not really sure of the extent of the problem with AY-102 yet. We’re not in a crisis situation where we’re actively pumping the tank – we may get there. I can’t postulate whether or not if we’re going to get there.”
Britton says the leak wasn’t detected earlier because: the tank has only leaked up to 520 gallons so far. It’s a million-gallon tank. So that’s like a fraction-of-an-inch level change, he says.
Copyright 2012 Northwest Public Radio