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Nuclear Plant Leaking Waste

The Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington State is an environmental problem that the U.S. Department of Energy likely wishes would go away.

Unfortunately, massive tanks that hold nuclear waste, six of which are currently leaking, don’t just disappear.

The out of commission facility manufactured plutonium used to make nuclear weapons during World War II through 1987, and now seeping from six of the tanks is an estimated 1,000 gallons of toxic, radioactive waste per year.

The Department of Energy has been criticized for carrying out construction at the facility prior to the completion of the design procedures in the 1940’s. Skeptics of the department’s hurried move in include the Government Accountability Office.

Though cleaning up the mess from the standard maintenance is already a billion dollar procedure, the recent findings of new leaks in underground tanks is alarming, and will take billions more to try and fix it.

The strategy to contain the leaks involves getting roughly 56 million gallons of waste out of 177 underground tanks. It will have to be combined with liquid glass and would then be sealed into containers. Though this is an incredible endeavor, what is even harder to believe is that the cleanup is being stalled due to budget issues.

Yes, radioactive waste is leaking, but nothing can be done about it until a memo gets passed around that it has been put on the budget agenda.

The attempt to fix the leaking tanks may cost billions, and it may not even work. Since an effort like this has never been done it is unclear exactly what will happen. Further, there is not much information available as to what was actually placed in these bothersome tanks or how the stored substances have evolved since the plant was built.

In an interview with CBS News, Donna Busche, a manager of environmental and nuclear safety at the plant reiterated everyone’s concern as to how a facility like this can be constructed to hold tanks with undocumented hazardous substances that are allowed to filter out.

Busche reminded that while the financial problem is on the discussion table the nuclear waste will be leaking into groundwater, and it’s not going to stop itself.

Hanford Nuclear Reservation

Image source: Google Images by Q. Dombrowski

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