Hanford Site

Anna King / Northwest News Network

The federal government says in a new report that it may take six years to start emptying a leaking double-hulled tank of waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

City of Richland workers recently rediscovered many documents from the Manhattan Project era. They are finding old records from when the southeastern Washington city was a high-security government town that sprung up to build the Atomic Bomb.

The City of Richland recently hired a public records consultant. It needed help sorting out just what to keep, what to throw out and how to organize it all.

Tobin Fricke / Wikimedia Commons

Washington Governor Jay Inslee and the state attorney general say they’re "extremely disappointed" that the U.S. Department of Energy may miss several key deadlines for cleanup at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

Workers are back on the job at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation’s waste treatment plant. Work stopped this week when radioactive soil was found under the nests of some swallows.

Swallows used some radioactive mud to make nests on exposed beamwork in Hanford’s waste treatment plant. That’s the $12 billion factory designed to bind-up radioactive sludge in glass logs. The nests were found during routine tests, but this is the first radioactive contamination of the new plant.

Washington Senator Patty Murray says she’s looking for some change at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation with new leadership at the top. A new manager is taking over at a key contracting company that handles the leaking radioactive tank farms. And the Department of Energy has a new secretary, Ernest Moniz.

Murray toured the southeast Washington nuclear site Thursday to get briefings on the massive waste treatment plant being built and the ongoing cleanup of radioactive waste.

The Obama administration’s new secretary of energy says his top priorities are responding to climate change, safely managing the nation’s nuclear stockpile and fostering scientific research. Ernest Moniz made the comments at his swearing-in ceremony Tuesday.

He also mentioned the need to clean up the nation’s Cold War legacy waste. That would include work at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington, “Including attention to the communities and workforce as we go into a somewhat uncertain future again, especially in terms of the budget environment.”

The people overseeing the cleanup of the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster are learning some valuable lessons from the long-running cleanup at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. A Japanese government delegation recently toured some of the southeast Washington site.

In Japan, workers in gloves and masks are grinding down sidewalks and roads, wiping down rooftops and bagging contaminated soil. Now, the problem is where to put all that radioactive waste from Fukushima.

Cleanup of a hazardous chemical called hexavalent chromium in the groundwater at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington is going faster than expected.

Hexavalent chromium is the nasty stuff that made Erin Brockovich famous down in California. The chemical was used to inhibit rust in coolant water in Hanford’s reactors. But that water was dumped into the desert, and now the cancer-causer is making its way toward the Columbia River in large groundwater plumes.

President Obama’s pick for energy secretary can expect a lot of questions about the Hanford Nuclear Reservation at a confirmation hearing Tuesday in Washington, D.C. Oregon Senator Ron Wyden chairs the committee considering physicist Ernest Moniz to head the sprawling federal agency.

Hanford Waste Plan Under Debate In New Mexico

Apr 4, 2013

CARLSBAD, N.M. - Last month, the U.S. Department of Energy announced a plan to send some nuclear waste from leaky storage tanks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation to southern New Mexico. The proposed new storage site is near Carlsbad and it's called the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. WIPP, as it’s known, has been prohibited from receiving Hanford tank waste for nearly a decade. Now, New Mexicans are debating whether to reverse course, and accept some of the waste.

Washington Closure Hanford and MSA

Hanford Nuclear Reservation managers are trying to figure out who left a time capsule in the wall of a building there nearly 60 years ago. Demolition workers found a coffee can recently while they were tearing down a building near a reactor at the southeast Washington site.

RICHLAND, Wash. - The U.S. Department of Energy says its wants to send 3 million gallons of radioactive tank waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation to a storage site in New Mexico. That’s 3 million gallons out of a total of 56 million gallons of some of the most toxic stuff on earth.

But what is different about this waste in particular, and why some groups are against moving it to New Mexico?

At a recent news conference at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, Washington Governor Jay Inslee said, “We have some good news here today.”

RICHLAND, Wash. -- Jason Strickling and his wife Lana of Pasco, Wash. are planning some extra time with the kids this summer. That’s because she works for a Hanford Nuclear Reservation contractor in southeast Washington and her employer is requiring her to take about five weeks of unpaid leave before September.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

At the Hanford Nuclear Reservation more than 200 employees received layoff notices this month. There could be 2,500 furloughs, all because of the federal budget cuts known as the sequester. That would further slow cleanup at the southeast Washington site. Meanwhile, radioactive waste at Hanford continues to leak from underground tanks.

Northwest News Network

Republished from Oregon Public Broadcasting

Photo by Anna King

It may take two to four years to even begin clearing radioactive waste from leaking tanks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. That’s according to Washington Governor Jay Inslee. He toured the southeast Washington nuclear site Wednesday. Correspondent Anna King was on that bus tour and has more.

Office of the Governor

  Washington Gov. Jay Inslee says it may take two to four years to begin removing liquids from leaking tanks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

RICHLAND, Wash. – As many as 4,800 workers could be furloughed or laid off at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington. It’s the result of the federal spending cuts known as the sequester. Hanford will need to cut $182 million in cleanup work according to a federal letter to Washington Governor Jay Inslee released Tuesday.

RICHLAND, Wash. – A coalition of groups from southeast Washington is collecting oral histories about the the Hanford Nuclear Reservation and communities around it -- from pioneer days to post-war-cleanup. An announcement was made Tuesday by Washington State University Tri-Cities and 10 other community groups.

The project team intends to collect new interviews, digitize existing ones and make them available online and at the university in a permanent collection.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Environmental regulators are assuring lawmakers in Olympia that leaking radioactive material from tanks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation has not yet reached ground water. The comments came at a hearing Thursday in the Washington Senate.

Hanford managers have said six single-shelled tanks are leaking nuclear waste.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Washington Governor Jay Inslee Wednesday expressed his continuing apprehension over the tank leaks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington. He says as the Department of Energy and its contractors are evaluating more than 100 tanks with a new set of criteria, “I have real concerns about the remaining single shell tanks as well.”

Separately, Hanford managers said Wednesday they’ve successfully cleaned up a major part of contaminated land just north of Richland called the 300 Area.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Oregon Senator Ron Wyden is calling for a federal investigation into the leaking tanks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington. Tuesday the senator asked the federal Government Accountability Office to look into the six single-hulled tanks that are losing radioactive waste.

Wyden is the new chair of a committee that closely watches and funds work at Hanford. The Department of Energy says less than three gallons of radioactive waste could be leaking from the tanks each day.

RICHLAND, Wash. – A new detail has emerged on the leaking tanks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. The federal Energy Department acknowledged last week that six single-shelled tanks are holding less radioactive waste than they used to. Monday the agency said those tanks are losing less than three gallons a day.

Worst case: Three gallons per day adds up to 1,095 gallons of radioactive waste per year. The Department of Energy says it doesn’t know yet how long these tanks might have been seeping waste.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Oregon Senator Ron Wyden will be asking the federal Government Accountability Office to investigate the Hanford Nuclear Reservation’s tank monitoring and maintenance program. This after Friday’s revelation that a total of seven tanks are leaking at Hanford, and there might be more.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Washington Governor Jay Inslee says at least seven tanks of radioactive waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation are leaking, not two. He says the Department of Energy and its contractors have apparently miscalculated data that would have found the leaks earlier.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The latest Hanford waste leak will be on the agenda as Washington Governor Jay Inslee meets Friday with US Energy Secretary Stephen Chu. Meanwhile, Washington’s Attorney General says legal action to force a more aggressive clean up schedule at Hanford is possible.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Major portions of the cleanup work at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation could stall if budget cuts known as the sequester start in March. The impasse comes just as two tanks at the southeast Washington site may be leaking.

A report by the Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee estimates that the budget cuts beginning in March would furlough more than 1,000 workers at Hanford for about six weeks. The document also says that pumping radioactive tank waste out of suspect underground tanks to newer vessels would be delayed.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Problems at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation will be a key issue in the confirmation hearings for the next Secretary of Energy. That’s what Oregon Senator Ron Wyden said after he toured the southeast Washington site Tuesday.

Wyden chairs the Senate committee that will consider President Obama’s pick to replace Energy Secretary Steven Chu. The Oregon Democrat toured Hanford’s tank farms, where millions of gallons of radioactive waste is stored. Two of those tanks have possible leaks.

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.

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