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Hanford's Underground Radioactive Stew

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Uploaded on Dec 12, 2011

As you read this, roughly 56 million gallons of a highly radioactive stew — enough to fill dozens of Olympic-size swimming pools -- are sitting in underground tanks at the Hanford nuclear site in Eastern Washington. Some of the toxic sludge is slowly seeping into the soil, and could contaminate the Columbia River if nothing is done to fix the leak.
A federal engineering review team found in late July that Bechtel's safety evaluation of key equipment at the plant at the Hanford site in Washington state was incomplete and that "the risks are more serious" than Bechtel acknowledged when it sought approval to continue with construction, the documents say.
Senior scientists at the site said in emails obtained by The Times that Bechtel's designs for tanks and mixing equipment are flawed, representing such a massive risk that work should be stopped on that part of the construction project. http://enformable.com/2011/12/at-hanf...




Plutonium production also left behind a slew of waste and debris in trenches, buildings and underground tanks, making Hanford one of the most challenging cleanup projects in the world.
There have been successes in recent years. Spent nuclear fuel was removed from two water-filled pools near the Columbia River, dozens of buried waste sites have been dug up and workers continue to monitor and treat contaminated groundwater.
But the worst of the waste is still decades away from being completely removed. Millions of gallons of a highly radioactive stew — enough to fill dozens of Olympic-size swimming pools — are stored in aging underground tanks. Some of those tanks have leaked, threatening the groundwater and the river.
Roughly one-third of the federal government's entire budget for nuclear cleanup — about $2 billion each year — goes to Hanford, and nearly a third of that goes to construction of the plant. Last month, U.S. Rep. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., demanded that the Energy Department provide an accurate statement of costs and schedule for the facility, and answer questions pertaining to safety complaints.
Read more: http://www.seattlepi.com/local/articl...

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