Many questions, few answers about new Hanford leak

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by GARY CHITTIM / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @gchittimK5

KING5.com

Posted on June 21, 2013 at 7:25 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 25 at 5:34 PM

Washington Governor Jay Inslee said he didn’t mind getting a call in the middle of the night about the possible leak in Hanford’s AY-102 nuclear waste tank.

“We want to get those calls,” Inslee told reporters and then explained how that’s not how the Department of Energy (DOE) has operated in the past. Inslee said he hopes it marks the beginning of a new era of transparency by the new Secretary of Energy, Ernest Moniz.

But Inslee and other state leaders are clearly not happy to learn that one of the newer, safer, double-walled nuclear tanks at Hanford could be leaking extremely high level waste through both walls into the Southeast Washington soil.

It would be a major setback in efforts to clean up the worst nuclear waste site in the country. The waste was stored in 149 single walled tanks in underground tank farms spread across the Hanford Reservation. AY-102 was to be the holding tank for that waste as it was being pumped to a new waste treatment plant.

The plant has been delayed for years by continued problems and is not expected to meet a 2019 deadline to be up and running.

So the tank designed to hold the waste until then is now possibly leaking, no longer dependable, and there is no plan we know of for quickly pumping it out to another double walled tank.

That leaves the DOE and its contractors with fewer places to store 56 million gallons of waste and no plant built yet to treat it.

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Watch the series: Hanford's Dirty Secrets

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