A nuclear tank is leaking at the Hanford Nuclear Waste Reservation in Washington State. This is one of the tanks that holds millions of gallons of a “highly radioactive stew” from decades of producing plutonium for nuclear weapons. This is one of 177 underground tanks at the nuclear reservation, according to Boston.com on Friday, Feb. 15, 2013.
The liquid in one of the nuclear waste tanks has decreaed in level, indicating a leak which raises serious concerns about the integrity of the other tanks holding the same type of waste.
This is the nation’s most contaminated nuclear sites and due to the long-delayed clean-up of this site, the fears of nuclear waste leaking have now materialized. The government is under pressure now that the leak was discovered to resolve the construction problems of this plant that was built to “alleviate environmental and safety risks to the public," according to Boston.com.
The tanks had a 20-year life span, which they have long past. While monitoring wells in the area haven’t detected higher radiation levels, the rate of the leak may pose a long-term threat to the ground waters and rivers. U.S. Department of Energy said the leak could be in the range of 150 gallons to 300 gallons a year.
Washington’s Governor Jay Inslee said he is alarmed at this leak at any level, plus this raises concerns over the rest of the tanks on that site. This is the first time a tank has been documented as leaking since all the tanks were stabilized in 2005.
Hanford was created under “hush-hush” conditions at the height of World War II to build an atomic bomb. Plutonium was produced at Hanford for the world’s first atomic blast and for one of the two bombs that was dropped on Japan.
Inslee believes the cleanup of Hanford should be a priority of the government and he is also willing to push the government from a legal direction if nothing is done, saying: “We are willing to exercise our rights using the legal system at the appropriate time. That should be clear.”
The clean-up of this site will cost billions of dollars and last decades.