New Hanford report may discount suspected leakers

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by GARY CHITTIM / KING 5 News

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KING5.com

Posted on September 18, 2013 at 6:16 PM

Updated Friday, Mar 21 at 4:38 PM

Department of Energy officials confirm the long awaited report on the leaking underground storage tanks at Hanford is due out within the next three weeks but they will not confirm information KING 5 has learned about what it the report will say.

A representative of a Richland City Department and The Hanford Advisory Board, said the report will show that that it was evaporation and other factors, not leaks that caused most of the declining levels in the suspected leaking tanks.

Pam Larsen, Executive Director of Hanford Communities and Advisory Board member, said. “I hope KING 5 will pay as much attention to the report showing it was evaporation as it did to the report of the leaks.”

KING 5 and several other news outlets reported the announcement by the Department of Energy earlier this year that its engineers had determined years of faulty measurement formulas had masked leaks in six aging, underground tanks. Washington Governor Jay Inslee shared that information with the state after meeting personally with outgoing U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

An assessment was launched into each of the five suspected leakers and the finalized report is due out late this month or early October.

A U.S. Department of Energy spokesperson told KING 5 Wednesday she did not know if the report attributes the lower levels of waste in the tanks to evaporation. State officials, including Governor Inslee also say they have not seen that information.

Inslee did tell KING 5 on Wednesday it would be good news if it was evaporation instead of leaks, but even if that’s the case, it doesn’t change this state’s expectations that the federal government drain and ship out nuclear waste from risky tanks before they have a chance to leak.

The Hanford Reservation has 149 of the older, single shell tanks built between 1943 and 1964. They contained high level waste from the production of nuclear weapons. Much of the liquid waste from those tanks was pumped into newer but also aging, double shell tanks. D.O.E. officials assured the state that the transfer ended numerous leaks in dozens of tanks. That was until this year when one confirmed and the five suspected leakers were discovered. One of the double shell tanks is also leaking waste from its interior wall.

 

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