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New Concerns about Hanford Tank Waste Cleanup

Cathy Duchamp
09/14/2006

Nuclear waste cleanup at Hanford is a complicated task. When one part of the project breaks down, others are delayed. Concerns are growing about the Department of Energy's ability to remove millions of gallons of highly radioactive waste stored in underground tanks, some which have leaked. Correspondent Cathy Duchamp reports.

TANK CLEANUP AT HANFORD WORKS LIKE THIS: RADIOACTIVE LIQUID STORED IN OLD UNDERGROUND TANKS IS EMPTIED TO NEWER, STRONGER DOUBLE-SHELLED TANKS. THEN IT'S PIPED TO A PLANT THAT TURNS THE WASTE INTO GLASS. BUT WAIT-THAT PLANT DOESN'T EXIST YET. IT WON'T FOR 13 YEARS:

MARTIN: "The delay is having ripple effects all throughout the program. "

TODD MARTIN LEADS THE HANFORD ADVISORY BOARD. IT REPRESENTS A WIDE VARIETY OF INTERESTS IN HANFORD CLEANUP:

MARTIN: "As citizens of the NW we no longer have a credible comprehensive plan for retrieving, treating and disposing of all the nuclear waste at Hanford."

MARTIN FEARS THAT THE DOUBLE-SHELL TANKS WILL WEAR OUT BEFORE THE WASTE TREATMENT PLAN OPENS IN 20-19, SENDING RADIOACTIVE WASTE INTO THE NEARBY COLUMBIA RIVER. JERRY LONG WITH CONTRACTOR C-H-2-M-HILL SAYS THERE'S A CORROSION CONTROL PLAN IN PLACE:

LONG: "We actually have these tanks reviewed by an independent, registered, qualified engineer, that's one of our requirements. We take his recommendations and we take the actions on those to ensure that our tanks will last long enough to support the mission."

THE MISSION CALLS FOR TANK WASTE TO BE RETRIEVED, TREATED, AND DISPOSED OF BY 20-28. I'M CATHY DUCHAMP REPORTING.

℗ Copyright 2006, KUOW News

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