Hanford Site

Anna King

We all burp sometimes. It turns out, so do underground waste tanks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. But it’s no laughing matter. This waste can burp up flammable hydrogen gas from its radioactive belly. Now, scientists are trying to figure out just how much sludge they can pile in a tank without risking a burp that could endanger workers and the public.

Three federal contractors at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation say they’ll lay off 450 workers over the next year.

How much sludge can be dumped into a double-shelled radioactive waste tank before flammable gas might build up in a big bubble?

Nuclear engineer Walt Tamosaitis says he was removed from his position because he brought up safety concerns.

After nearly a year of study, the U.S. Department of Energy says fewer radioactive waste tanks appear to be leaking at Hanford than originally thought.

Community leaders in southeast Washington are looking to develop parts of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation as a prime spot for tourists.

Anna King

In southeast Washington, and in southern Russia there are two atomic cities a world apart but with surprising similarities. The new book “Plutopia” studies the cities of Richland, Washington and Ozersk, Russia. Both places made plutonium for nuclear bombs. And both sprung up from desolate places during WWII and the Cold War.

The 11th Waste Tank To Be Cleaned Up At Hanford

Oct 25, 2013
Washington River Protection Solutions

A federal contractor says it’s finished pumping out the radioactive waste from one of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation’s single-hulled underground tanks. The federal government says that’s the 11th tank cleared out so far. Contractors used a small robot that is somewhat like a remote-control bulldozer.

The U.S. Department of Energy faces a $115,000 fine for the way a contractor handled asbestos at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington.

In early November, a federal appeals court will consider the case of a well-known Hanford whistleblower. Walter Tamosaitis argues his career was essentially killed after he voiced safety concerns at the southeast Washington nuclear cleanup site. Earlier this month, the high-level manager was laid off for good. It wasn’t retaliation according to the federal contractor that employed him. But U.S. senators and watchdog groups fear this turn will make other workers with safety concerns clam up.

Washington officials say they’re disappointed but not surprised by news that the federal government likely will miss several more cleanup deadlines at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. 

At Hanford, radioactive sludge stews in aging underground tanks not far from the Columbia River. A 1989 agreement created the timeline for treating that caustic gunk. But the task has proven extremely difficult: A waste treatment plant has been plagued by whistleblowers, critical federal investigations, cost overruns and delays.

Washington's Governor calls a new proposal to phase-in portions of cleanup at Hanford an intriguing idea, but says it doesn’t solve immediate problems of leaking waste tanks.

There’s a new plan for cleanup at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. The federal government is looking for ways to process certain types of radioactive waste more quickly, while managers there figure out how to solve major technical challenges at its massive Waste Treatment Plant. U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz released the new “framework” Tuesday after a year of study.

Fifty years ago this week, President John F. Kennedy stepped off a Marine helicopter into the dry heat of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington. He was there to see the massive new N Reactor.

Washington state’s poet laureate is one of the latest winners of the state’s Book Award.

The tank farms at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington have the all-clear for work to resume after a high-radiation incident briefly shut down much of the site last month.

In late August, Hanford workers responded to an emergency of a high-radiation reading near a tank known as C-101.

The tank farms at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington have the all-clear for work to resume after a high-radiation incident briefly shut down much of the site last month.

Washington state officials say that a court-ordered construction deadline has been missed on part of the Hanford’s radioactive waste treatment plant.

The federal government disagrees.

The Waste Treatment Plant at Hanford has had its share of construction and technical trouble. The federal plant should be completed by 2019, and will treat 56 million gallons of radioactive sludge. Currently, that gunk is stewing away in aging underground tanks near the Columbia River. Some of those tanks are believed to be leaking.

The Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington has inspired documentaries, museum exhibits, art shows and even a book of poetry. Now, a Northwest band call Tangerine is about to release a new song that tackles the leaking tanks of radioactive waste at the federal site.

“I guess it’s a slightly unusual topic for a pop song," admits Marika Justad. "Especially one that has a romantic angle. Justad sings and plays guitar and piano for Tangerine, an alternative pop band from Seattle.

Crews at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington are investigating increased radiological readings at a tank farm there. It happened Wednesday at about 9:30 p.m. Part of the massive site was shut down. 

A carcinogen called hexavalent chromium has been an environmental problem in many places, from the Hanford Nuclear Reservation to groundwater in California.

Remember Erin Brockovich?

Hexavalent chromium is expensive to monitor underground. Now, a Richland company is testing a new real-time sensor that could help clean-up contaminated sites around the world.

Washington’s state Attorney General is praising an appeals court decision on a nuclear waste repository in Nevada. The ruling requires the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to get the licensing process back on track for Yucca Mountain.

The state of Washington wants Yucca Mountain to be the permanent waste repository for radioactive waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. But President Obama buried the project because of opposition from Nevada’s political leaders.


Senator Patty Murray is pressing legislation in the U.S. Senate that would make some historic sites at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington part of the national parks system. The Democrat toured the historic site of Hanford High School Thursday. The building was part of the town that was forcibly vacated to make way for the secretive Manhattan Project during World War II. Now, the remains of the building sit amid the brush near the Columbia River. Murray says she wants these sites preserved and available for public visits along with the more famous “B” Reactor.

Here’s an update on a double-hulled tank that’s leaking internally at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington. The Department of Energy said Friday that recent tests show there is no leak of radioactive material outside of the tank. But the State of Washington says it still wants Hanford managers to pump the liquids out of the tank immediately. Correspondent Anna King has more.

Managers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation say crews have cleaned up 15 million tons of radioactive soil and debris from near the Columbia River. It’s gone to a massive dump at the center of the site.

In central Hanford, a ceremonial load of soil marked 15 million tons of waste disposed of at the 52-football-field-sized dump called ERDF. Dozens of truck horns blared in response.

Justin Wilde, Mission Support Alliance

For the first time in more than 50 years, the Hanford nuclear reservation is now home to two baby bald eagles. Wildlife biologists say this is a good sign for bald eagles and for the area.

The U.S. Department of Energy has agreed to pay $136,000 in fines for allegedly mishandling waste left over from plutonium production at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. The penalty comes from the Environmental Protection Agency. The Department of Energy doesn’t agree with EPA's findings.

WWW.Hanford.Gov / U.S. Department of Energy

Washington Governor Jay Inslee says he expects it will take a few days to confirm whether radioactive waste has leaked through the outer shell of a double-hulled underground tank at Hanford. Early on Friday the U.S. Department of Energy disclosed that it detected heightened radioactivity levels beneath a tank that holds some of the nation's worst nuclear waste.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee says the disclosure of a worsening leak at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation is "the most disturbing news."

The U.S. Department of Energy Friday said an underground tank that holds some of the nation's most troublesome radioactive waste may be leaking into the soil. An Oregon official said the development adds "urgency" to the long-running Hanford cleanup. 

Ernest Moniz, the new secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy visits Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington on Wednesday. Among the issues he will have to deal with are the leaking underground tanks of radioactive waste and the troubled waste treatment plant.

From his resume, it appears Moniz isn’t short on brainpower. He’s been on the faculty of MIT since 1973. Secretary Moniz received a Bachelor of Science degree summa cum laude in physics from Boston College and a doctorate in theoretical physics from Stanford University.