Six Nuclear Tanks Are Leaking At Hanford

Six underground nuclear tanks are leaking at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington State, according to Governor Jay Inslee.

Inslee announced the development on Friday after he met with federal officials in Washington, D.C. The governor announced last week that one tank was leaking.

Hanford is the United States’ most contaminated nuclear site. It was also the first large-scale nuclear production site in the country. Built in 1944, it was the birthplace of one of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan during World War II.

The US Department of Energy reported last week that liquid levels were decreasing in one of the plant’s 177 underground tanks, though monitoring wells nearby did not detect higher radiation, reports USA Today.

The leaks are already way past their 20-year life span. They hold millions of gallons of nuclear waste, which is still highly radioactive and is left over from decades of plutonium production for thousands of nuclear weapons.

KIRO-TV notes that Inslee called the news that six tanks at Hanford are leaking “disturbing.” The government currently spends $2 billion on the Hanford clean-up per year. Crews are working to build a plant that will convert the waste into glasslike logs that provide safe and secure storage.

The Washington State governor, along with Oregon’s Governor John Kitzhaber, have promoted the idea of building additional tanks to ensure safe storage of the waste until the plant is complete. The cleanup plan is expected to last for decades. It is already over its budget and behind schedule.

Lisa Harper, a spokeswoman for Inslee, stated that outgoing Energy Secretary Steven Chu informed the governor of the six leaking tanks on Friday. The leaks have not yet been stopped.

Despite the leaking nuclear waste tanks, officials have not issued a hazard warning to residents in the Tri Cities or other areas surrounding the nuclear site.

It is not yet clear how long it will take to stop the six leaking nuclear waste tanks at Hanford.

[Image via Wikimedia Commons]