Thursday May 23, 2013
Newest Hanford High-Level Nuclear Waste Tank Leak HighlightsSalem-News.com
Serious Threat to Columbia River and Future Potential Health Impacts.
(PORTLAND, OR) - The federal Energy Department (USDOE) announced today that another of Hanford’s High-Level Nuclear Waste tanks is leaking 150 to 300 gallons per year. Tank “T-111” holds approximately a half million gallons of deadly High-Level Nuclear Waste sludge. So-called “Pumpable liquids” were removed from the 148 oldest Single Shell Tanks at Hanford to reduce the risk of leaks. Recently, a newer Double Shell Tanks has also begun leaking.
Under a federal court suit settlement between Heart of America Northwest and the Energy Department, USDOE is legally obligated to disclose leaks from High-Level Nuclear Waste tanks and provide specific public notices.
A recently released environmental impact statement showed that leaks from High-Level Nuclear Waste tanks and residues proposed to be left in the tanks will repeatedly contaminate the groundwater flowing to the Columbia River on Hanford’s Central Plateau. The Energy Department’s preferred alternatives in the Final Tank Closure and Waste Management EIS do not include cleaning up contamination from the over one million gallons which have leaked from tanks, and the over one billion gallons of waste which was deliberately discharged from the tanks into the soil.
Heart of America Northwest had urged that the environmental impact statement analyze the likelihood and impacts from new leaks from High-Level Nuclear Waste tanks. USDOE refused to do so, saying that it was not likely that there would be additional leakage from “stabilized” tanks such as T-111 before waste was removed to be treated in the High-Level Nuclear Waste “vitrification” plant under construction. That plant is now delayed and more than $8 billion over budget. The federal government’s Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report last month that it would be unwise to resume construction of the plant before resolving major safety and engineering concerns. The plan to remove waste from Single Shell Tanks to the vitrification plant also relies on use of a four decade old “double Shell Tank”, which was recently confirmed to be leaking.
“We need a Plan B, and we need it now,” said Gerry Pollet. “We need to move ahead rapidly with plans to build new tanks and use available technologies at a local waste treatment facility to empty and treat some of the waste from the lowest radiation level tanks. For the long term, the State must adopt tough permit requirements for removal of all tank residues and cleanup of the contamination under the tanks before more waste reaches groundwater.”
Gerry Pollet, JD;
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