|salmon spawning near Hanford|
Monday, February 25, 2013
More Tanks Leaking at Hanford
[photo]. A planned facility to dispose of radioactive wastes at the site by vitrification is years behind schedule with operation starting not until 2019.
Officials are quick to blame the possible sequester of federal money beginning in March as hampering containment efforts. However, Hanford's clean-up has a marred record of delay going back decades. Hanford Site was established in 1943 as part of the Manhattan Project. Plutonium was manufactured in the "B Reactor" at Hanford for use in the "Fat Man" bomb that destroyed Nagasaki. The Department of Energy identified tank T-111 with a capacity of 530,000 gallons and built in 1943-44 as an "assumed leaker" in 1979. The designed life of these older tanks is twenty years. T-111 still contains 447,000 gallons of radioactive sludge. An estimated 27 million gallons of salt cake and sludge remain in single shell tanks. In August of last year a leak from a double shell tank, AY-102 was detected. The waste was originally scheduled to be removed by 2018, but now the revised schedule is 2040. Over the years about of a third of the underground storage tanks have leaked waste into the soil and groundwater. If the clean-up does not proceed on schedule, the waste is expected to reach the river in 12 to 50 years.