Nuclear tank leak: Hanford nuclear tank leaking liquids in Washington state

By on Feb 16, 2013 in United States, World Comments

A nuclear tank leaking liquids of radioactive waste was revealed by the US Department of Energy on Friday, February 15, 2013.

Officials say that liquid levels from one of the 177 underground tanks at the south-central Washington‘s Hanford nuclear reservation is decreasing. The leak was estimated to be in the range of 150 gallons to 300 gallons annually and threatens groundwater and rivers.

These nuclear tanks reportedly contains millions of gallons of a highly radioactive waste from plutonium production used for nuclear weapons.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee raised his concern on the integrity of the other tanks, built in the 1940s and way past their intended 20-year life span.

On Friday’s news conference, Gov. Inslee said that “I am alarmed about this on many levels. This raises concerns, not only about the existing leak … but also concerning the integrity of the other single shell tanks of this age.”

Gov. Inslee anticipates that the risk at Hanford will increase if the budget conflict in Congress continues as this may delay the cleanup of the nuclear tanks. He reiterates that they “are willing to exercise our rights using the legal system at the appropriate time. That should be clear.”

The reported leaking nuclear tank contains “about 447,000 gallons of sludge, a mixture of solids and liquids with a mud-like consistency.”

Reports say that technical problems have slowed down the construction of a $12.3 billion plant to convert the waste to a safe, stable form.

By next week, Gov. Inslee will discuss the situation in Washington D.C.

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