Hanford Nuclear Storage Facility In Washington State Is Leaking; No Idea How To Fix It
There are few threats to humanity so terrifying as our own hubris, especially in the form of the nuclear genie the US let out of the bottle back in 1945. That sickly, poisonous legacy continues: five years after the Fukushima meltdown we are still assessing the toll that disaster had on Japan and the sea surrounding it; 30 years after Chernobyl, we have seen animals and birds returning to a region that has been forever altered.
But those were just the accidents. What about our deliberate actions and the consequences of them?
The worst fears of one whistle-blower in Washington state are coming true over the storage of nuclear waste at a facility formerly used to manufacture plutonium for the atom bomb. The Hanford nuclear facility in south-central Washington is home to 177 massive underground tanks, each of which holds about a million liters or 260,000 gallons of fluid, used to store nuclear waste left over from four decades of plutonium manufacture, including 28 double-shell tanks.
It’s one of these double-shell tanks that has been shown to be slowly leaking, and alarming occurrence to say the least, given that these type of tanks were supposed to be the end-all, top-shelf future of nuclear waste storage.
“This is catastrophic,” said former Hanford worker Mike Geffre. “This is probably the biggest event to ever happen in tank farm history. The double shell tanks were supposed to be the saviors of all saviors [to hold waste securely from people and the environment].”
But for Geffre at least, this was not unexpected. He is the plant worker who first discovered that this particular tank, known as AY-102 was failing in 2011. and although he warned Washington River Protection Solutions, the contractor in charge of the tanks of his findings, he was ignored.
Prior to the latest findings, the leak was a slow one, with the substance drying up quickly in the space between the tank’s shells. But now reports say that up to 13,000 liters (3,500 gallons) has leaked.
And now for the fallout frosting on this radiation cake, in the form of two terrifying facts:
• As reported by the New York Times, all of these tanks, the single-shell ones included, are “…expected to leak at some point unless action is taken.”
• There is no plan as to what that “action” might be, now or in the future.
So if you have summer vacation plans along the Columbia River in south-central Washington, you might want to consider cashing in those plane tickets for somewhere safer.
I hear Chernobyl is lovely this time of year.