State worries no plan in place for half of Hanford waste

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by GARY CHITTIM / KING 5 News

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KING5.com

Posted on December 6, 2012 at 7:53 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 6 at 7:53 PM

Suzanne Dahl has an issue. The Washington State Department of Ecology Tank Waste Treatment Section manager is worried about half of the waste in the aging storage tanks at Hanford.

Dahl is pleased with the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) overall plan to treat and remove the waste except for one little part. But there is no mention of a preferred method to handle the millions of gallons of leftover, less radioactive waste from the tanks, called supplemental waste.

Dahl is concerned the cleanup will take twice as long, until 2080, if the DOE doesn't create the plan and buildings to treat that half of the waste.

Her issue is complicated by a recent rash of problems and developments at the nation's largest nuclear waste site. Part of the plant being built to turn the nuclear waste into glass is shut down due to design problems and other issues. Many of the older single walled storage tanks are leaking waste into the Hanford groundwater, and now even one of the newer double walled tanks is leaking.

Dahl knows the DOE has a lot to deal with right now, but she and her department don't want the supplemental waste lost in the process.

 

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