Hanford Advisory Board Recommends New Waste Tanks For Hanford’s Leak Situation

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/164216128/164216149" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

RICHLAND, Wash. – The Hanford Nuclear Reservation needs new storage tanks for radioactive waste, now that one of the aging double-hulled tanks has been found to be leaking. That was the consensus Friday of a board that advises federal Hanford managers. Correspondent Anna King reports.

Building new tanks at Hanford would be a major policy shift. The last time the idea was on the table was the late '90s. Federal experts warn that it might take seven years if they started now to build new tanks for Hanford’s waste.

But now, there’s this leaking double-hulled tank of waste called AY-102, and other tanks like it are also suspect.

Dirk Dunning is a chemical engineer with the state of Oregon. He says if the Department of Energy were to build new tanks, they would be stronger than the one that’s leaking now.

“There’s a lot that we’ve learned about how the waste and the steel interact. And that helps them to design it correctly for the future.”

Still, Dunning and many others worry that building new tanks would take the focus off the treatment plant that would bind up the waste into more stable glass logs.

Hanford has about 56 million gallons of radioactive waste sitting in more than a hundred aging underground tanks from WWII and the Cold War.

Hanford Advisory Board recommendation

Copyright 2012 Northwest Public Radio

No Alternative Text

View inside the space between the leaking tanks's two walls at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. Photo courtesy the U.S. Department of Energy hide caption

toggle caption



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from