OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington Governor Chris Gregoire says construction on a waste treatment plant at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation must continue. This despite serious safety concerns raised by two high-level whistleblowers. There's also a newly leaked report that warns plutonium levels in Hanford tank waste could be much higher than previously thought.
Gregoire says those issues should be taken seriously, but the clean-up has already taken too long.
"If there's a good and valid reason for us to stop, to slow down, we will listen to any legitimate concern," Gregoire says. "But in the meantime I cannot continue to allow US Department of Energy to delay and delay and delay. The Columbia River is at stake, all of that area and its vitality."
The concern is sludge in aging underground tanks could seep into the Columbia if it's not retrieved and turned into safer glass logs. The waste treatment plant is currently under construction.
But the head of nuclear safety for the project is the latest whistleblower to tell our Richland correspondent, Anna King, that the plant is under-designed and vulnerable to major malfunctions.
On the Web:
Hanford Nuclear Safety Manager Questions Waste Treatment Plant
Leaked Hanford report:
Hanford Waste Treatment & Immobilization Plant Project:
Waste treatment fact sheets:
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