Hanford Tank Cleanup
6:11 am
Mon March 3, 2014

Sen. Wyden: Hanford Tanks Like 'Groundhog Day,' Problems Keep Repeating

Originally published on Sun March 2, 2014 10:33 am

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden is saying cleanup at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation is like something out of the movie "Groundhog Day."

In a boathouse on the Columbia River in Portland, Ore., Saturday, he said the problems at the nuclear site repeat over and over. Senator Wyden says key documents at Hanford were kept from him, the State of Washington and the public.

“We were told in 2012 that this double-shelled tank … was an isolated issue," said Wyden. "Now we have obtained documents indicating some very serious questions about whether that was actually the case.”

That report reveals construction problems with the leaky double-hulled tank at the southeast Washington site are likely repeated in six other double-shelled tanks as well. He says this key information was kept out of recent cleanup negotiations and the Department of Energy hasn’t been straight with the people of the Northwest.

Wyden says he wants U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz to report back in 45 days with possible solutions to the aging tanks.

Tom Fletcher is a top federal manager on the tanks at Hanford. He says the Energy department creates dozens of reports, and he’s not sure why the state and others didn’t see it before.

The Hanford Nuclear Reservation is where the government produced plutonium for World War II and the Cold War. There are 56 million gallons of radioactive waste stored in aging underground tanks there.

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