Radioactive Waste
5:50 pm
Fri February 15, 2013

There’s Little Space To Pump Out Hanford’s Possible Leaking Tank

A Hanford Nuclear Reservation watchdog says U.S. Energy officials have bigger problems than the waste that is possibly leaking from a tank in southeast Washington. The tank, called T-111, is losing about 150 to 300 gallons of liquid waste a year.

Tom Carpenter heads the Seattle-based watchdog group Hanford Challenge. He says Friday’s news highlights the fact that there’s little space to move highly radioactive waste to.

“So if you have another leak, what do you do? You don’t have any strategy for that," Carpenter says. "And the Hanford Advisory Board and the state of Washington and Hanford Challenge and others have been calling upon the Department of Energy to build new tanks. That call has been met with silence.”

In fact, a separate tank was found leaking internally last year and officials are still working on a solution for that problem. Washington Governor Jay Inslee said in a press conference Friday that this latest tank leak may have been going on for years.

The 177 underground tanks at Hanford were built during World War II and the Cold War. They’ve been guarding the leftovers from plutonium production. The Department of Energy is building a massive waste treatment plant at Hanford, but the project has been plagued with design problems and management strife.

Copyright 2013 Northwest Public Radio