SEATTLE - Tom Carpenter has spent three decades charting Hanford's troubles. From his Seattle office he regularly pumps out press releases.
We work with whistleblowers out there. We go to all the public meetings. We look at the environmental issues. So we pay very close attention to what is going on at Hanford night and day, said Carpenter.
Friday he found himself focused on Governor Jay Inslee's Friday afternoon press conference where it was announced that the federal Department of Energy found a leak in a tank storing sludge at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.
There's some suggestion this leak has been going on for years, not weeks, said Inslee.
Between 150 and 300 gallons a year of radioactive waste has been leaking. While it poses no short term threat, Carpenter wants action now.
If this were 300 gallons a year at City Hall it would be a huge deal. This is a lot of nuclear waste. We are talking waste that is dangerous in microscopic quantities, said Carpenter. It spotlights again the mess we are in at the Hanford site. This is the worse contaminated facility in the U.S.
Carpenter's group, Hanford Challenge, praised Inslee's zero tolerance policy on radioactive leaks at Hanford.
Carpenter said under state law, the tank needs to be pumped and emptied to protect the ground water.
There is very limited space available to store waste from confirmed leaking tanks, which highlights the need for new double-shell tank construction at Hanford, said Carpenter.