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New Radioactive Waste Leak Found in Tank at Hanford Nuclear Site

Environment  (tags: Hanford nulear site, Washington, radioactive waste, leaks, pollution, endangered, environment, DoE )

- 1921 days ago -
An aging tank of high-level radioactive waste is leaking at the Hanford nuclear site in south-central Washington state at the rate of up to 300 gallons a year, federal authorities disclosed Friday after discovering a dip in the volume of toxic sludge ...

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Angelika R (143)
Friday February 15, 2013, 9:38 pm
Though more than a third of the 149 old single-shell tanks at the site are suspected to have leaked up to 1 million gallons of nuclear waste over the years, this is the first confirmed leak since federal authorities completed a so-called stabilization program in 2005 that was supposed to have removed most liquids from the vulnerable single-shell tanks.

The new leak calls into question the effectiveness of that program, and state officials said it increased the urgency of ending roadblocks to a permanent storage solution for the 53 million gallons of waste housed at the sprawling site that was a center for atomic bomb-making material after World War II.

“This is very disturbing news. I am alarmed about this on many levels,” Gov. Jay Inslee said at a news conference after he was contacted about the leak Friday morning by U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

“This raises concerns not only about the existing leak that has been recently discovered, but also concerning the integrity of the other single-shell tanks of this age, some of which have experienced prior leaks,” he said.

Lori Gamache, a spokeswoman for the Department of Energy at Hanford, said the tank had most of its liquids removed during “interim stabilization” in 1995 and was left with 447,000 gallons of sludge.

Data trends showed a decrease in the volume of the tank, and when the accuracy of the measuring instrument was verified, it became apparent that a leak had occurred into the surrounding soil, she said. The estimated volume is 150 to 300 gallons a year.

Officials say they can’t be sure exactly how much has leaked because there is evidence of “water intrusion” into the tank — meaning a bigger leak could have occurred while the volume in the tank remained fairly constant.

State officials say there is no immediate public health threat, because it could take years or even decades for the leaked material to reach the groundwater and move on to the nearby Columbia River.

But Inslee said the timing of the leak’s discovery coincided unfortunately with a report this week from Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee that more than 1,000 federal employees now working on cleanup at the site could be placed on unpaid leave for six weeks if threatened federal budget “sequestration” cuts occurred on March 1.

“I know this is a time of tight budgets, but with an active leak of high-level radioactive material into the environment, money cannot be allowed to be an excuse for inaction, and the proposed sequestration that we are facing could not have come at a worse time,” Inslee said.

The Department of Energy still is trying to understand a leak discovered in August at one of the more modern, double-shell tanks built as updated, temporary storage for waste removed from the old single-shell tanks.

Gamache said the waste in that case did not escape the outer shell of the tank. “We continue to monitor it,” she said.

JL A (281)
Friday February 15, 2013, 10:12 pm
Oh no!!! Congress REALLY needs to get their act together and stop the gridlock to pass their long overdue budget!

Judy C (97)
Friday February 15, 2013, 10:57 pm
Thanks for posting this important information, Angelika. In spite of all this, there are insane plans for new nuclear reactors in he U.S.! On the other hand, situations like this one at Hanford should be evidence that nuclear is so problematic that it is just not a viable option, and really never has been. According to an article posted Friday a.m., "The list of crippled, non-competitive and near-dead reactors lengthens daily."

Our Atomic Dominoes Are Falling

mag.w.d. Aichberger (34)
Saturday February 16, 2013, 2:50 am
hey, keep coooool,
Toxis Radioactive Slkudge Is Good For You !

mag.w.d. Aichberger (34)
Saturday February 16, 2013, 2:53 am
should read 'Sludge' of course -- i(diot) forgot to spell-check yet once again.
Nukes wouldn't be SUCH a problem if they were built, maintained, and run *reasonably*
But of course, in a capital(fasc)istic $y$tem NOTHING is built, maintained, or run *reasonably*

mag.w.d. Aichberger (34)
Saturday February 16, 2013, 3:01 am
And as interesting and informative as Our Atomic Dominoes Are Falling is ... methinks that the title-metaphor is plain wrong: Nukes pollute and/or blow up, may take out a million of humans, give a few more millions Cancer, and make whole areas UN-inhabitable ("Tokyo would probably now fall into this category, if assessed objectively and with caring for humans' wellbeing) ... but other nukes are about the last thing they take out.

Angelika R (143)
Saturday February 16, 2013, 7:36 am
You cannot currently send a star to FRACK because you have done so within the last week.
And many thanks to Judy for alerting to her post! If all that is not reason to phase out and QUIT nukes for good,-what will be? The exampke of Tokyo-thx for that video, Frack!- is frightening as hell.

Angelika R (143)
Saturday February 16, 2013, 3:16 pm
I encourage everyone to join NIRS,( ) help them fighting nukes, they often have petitions as well!

Judy C (97)
Saturday February 16, 2013, 5:51 pm
I just joined NIRS. Thanks Angelika. Good point FRACK, lol.

Angelika R (143)
Saturday February 16, 2013, 5:55 pm
Great job, Judy! Every voice helps.

Michael M (60)
Saturday February 16, 2013, 9:26 pm
Accckkk. We were always worried about the ongoing leakage affecting us further down the Columbia a few decades back.
Plutonium just keeps going and going. It will outlast the human species.
Idaho National Lab has some bad scenes too, but Hanford leaks right into the Columbia.

Michael M (60)
Saturday February 16, 2013, 9:31 pm
Frack - without such a fascistic system with government sacking with massive corporations, nuke plants wouldn't have been able to be built.

The Frankensteininess is all one.

If you are not aware of the uranium poisoning of the upper White, the Black hills, the Southwest mines, all making ill the indigenous peoples, any pro-nuke people should do just a little research into the stats and clear correlations.
I would hope then, that you take NIRS positions on the subject.

Giana Peranio-paz (398)
Sunday February 17, 2013, 12:17 am
Very disturbing news!

Tanya W (65)
Sunday February 17, 2013, 1:26 am
Not a fan of nuclear!!! There are safer ways to produce power.

Ram Reddy (7)
Sunday February 17, 2013, 3:14 am

Care member (1)
Sunday February 17, 2013, 3:15 am

Ramu Reddy (8)
Sunday February 17, 2013, 4:14 am

Past Member (0)
Sunday February 17, 2013, 5:28 am
We humans pollute Mother Earth, and then think about the solutions. Noted , Thanks .

Ro H (0)
Sunday February 17, 2013, 8:29 am

Ann Breeden (65)
Sunday February 17, 2013, 12:31 pm
Thanks for posting this. I shared it with some of my western friends. I'll check out the NIRS.
No more nuclear plants, please.

Hartson Doak (39)
Sunday February 17, 2013, 12:57 pm
I agree as a former Quality Control Nuclear Inspector that ALL the nukes need to be closed. But this leak is from BOMB production. There is more happening they do not tell you about.

Muriel Servaege (53)
Sunday February 17, 2013, 12:58 pm
TY, Angelika. It's appalling.

Muriel Servaege (53)
Sunday February 17, 2013, 1:00 pm
TY, Angelika. It's appalling.

Past Member (0)
Sunday February 17, 2013, 1:28 pm
need to put an end to all of this ignorant destruction on Mother Earth. She knows beset how to sustain life here, while we are unseeing, unknowing, and very actively committing great atrocities against her!

Jean C (18)
Sunday February 17, 2013, 1:43 pm
Do they really care???

How about radioactive materials used to make hip replacement components, children's metal braces, eyeglasses, silverware, etc.?

Angelika R (143)
Sunday February 17, 2013, 1:45 pm
Yvette- EVIL would be the better word, we cannot excuse mankind as ignorant anymore. They've known better for a LONG time!

Angelika R (143)
Sunday February 17, 2013, 2:00 pm
Jean C - exactly! that's one solution they come up with where to put their nuke waste, contaminated with uranium, perfect for consumer goods! I posted about that as well a week ago (scrap-Metal Plan Proves Radioactive , and a petition along with it:
Emergency Petition to Stop Radioactive Silverware -

Christina G (11)
Sunday February 17, 2013, 2:18 pm
everything comes back to expamding human population - if we can't control our numbers we can't save anything! yet who talks about it!

Lois Jordan (63)
Sunday February 17, 2013, 2:21 pm
Noted. Thanks, Angelika.
I've gotten mailings from NIRS, and sign petitions when they send them. As I read the article, it said these leaks have been occurring for years....then it says...."there is no immediate public health threat, because it could take years or even decades for the leaked material to reach the groundwater and move on to the nearby Columbia River." Yeah, something smells rotten up there, I hope they do their job and start telling citizens the truth while fully fixing the problems ASAP.

Jean C (18)
Sunday February 17, 2013, 2:23 pm
Behold a Pale Horse

Angelika R (143)
Sunday February 17, 2013, 2:24 pm
Don't wait for any officials telling you the truth! If progressive media and environmental orgs. would not find out and spread it you'd never know1

Birgit W (160)
Sunday February 17, 2013, 3:41 pm

MmAway M (505)
Sunday February 17, 2013, 9:47 pm
Thanks Angelika ~ Dang! These toxic places just keep on leaking!

Joy W (103)
Monday February 18, 2013, 12:17 am
Noted. thanks.

Lloyd H (46)
Monday February 18, 2013, 8:55 am
God, "clean" is as much of an oxymoron when applied to nuclear as it is to coal or any other fossil fuel, the Glass Solution for the radioactive waste is now 20+ years behind schedule and Billions over budget and there is actual real results nowhere in sight. Starting to feel like deja vu all over again as I was living down wind from Three Mile Island when it began to melt and some how being up stream from the leak just does not make me feel any safer.

Süheyla C (234)
Thursday February 28, 2013, 11:22 am
Thank you Angelika
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