*"This Changes Everything,"... .New Urgency for Building More Tanks*
*Seattle, WA:* Today a public interest group released evidence that the
first double-shell tank leak of highly radioactive waste has been detected
at the Hanford nuclear site.
Hanford Challenge disclosed a memo to the Washington State Department of
Ecology dated August 14th, 2012 that acknowledges a highly-radioactive
chemical waste leak that was detected in early August from Tank AY-102 on
the floor of the annulus (space between the walls) of the tank.
Radioactive waste was found in two locations, according to the document,
one of them in a "mound approximately 2 ft. x 3 ft. x 8 inches." The
material was dry.
The AY-102 tank is one of 177 underground nuclear waste tanks containing an
estimated 56 million gallons of high-level nuclear waste. 67 Hanford tanks
have leaked over one million gallons to the soil, but until recently, all
of them were the older-style, single-shell tanks. The AY-102 tank is a
*waste tank, and was previously considered to be stable and non-leaking.
Double-shelled tanks have two steel walls, with a "tank within a tank"
design that adds to the safety margin.
Hanford is widely acknowledged to be the most contaminated facility in the
"This changes everything. It is alarming that there is now solid evidence
that a Hanford double-shell has leaked," said Hanford Challenge's Executive
Director, Tom Carpenter. "These tanks were supposed to last another 40
years, but that thinking has been superseded by this new reality."
The State of Washington entered into a cleanup agreement with the
Department of Energy with deadlines that allow the high-level tanks to not
be emptied until 2052. The assumption has always been that the
double-shelled tanks would continue to hold their wastes throughout that
Carpenter stated, "This new evidence gives urgency to the suggestion that
the DOE build more tanks. We always knew the Double Shell Tanks would leak,
we just did not know when. We have the first, how many will be leakers in
another 40 years? The only good news here is that the waste from this tank
leak was not in liquid form, and is apparently not yet affecting the
Hanford Challenge questioned the Department of Energy's lack of
transparency: "Officials have not made any kind of announcement about the
leak, despite the fact that they have known for over a week. The era of
secrecy and hiding problems is supposed to be over, but old habits
apparently die hard," said Carpenter.
Hanford Challenge has also cited the uncertainties around the opening of
the Waste Treatment Plant, which is under scrutiny because of safety issues
raised by whistleblowers, as another reason the government should
immediately build a new set of tanks to temporarily store Hanford's deadly
* http://www.hanfordc hallenge. org/*