Hanford Watchdogs: Sending Tank Waste To New Mexico Won't Work

By Anna King

RICHLAND, Wash. – A plan to ship some radioactive waste from the Hanford Nuclear Reservation to New Mexico for storage won’t work. That’s the message today from three environmental watchdog groups. They’re asking the Obama Administration’s nominee for Secretary of Energy to drop the idea.

Earlier this month, Governor Jay Inslee announced the federal government’s preferred storage site for about 3-million-gallons of tank waste is salt caves in New Mexico. That’s out of 56-million-gallons total stored at Hanford. Now, environmental watchdog groups call this a waste of time. 

In a letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, they argue the waste would have to be legally redefined and a new plant would be required to dry-down or bind-up the waste in grout. Tom Carpenter heads the group Hanford Challenge and calls the New Mexico option a “bar napkin plan.”

Tom Carpenter: “It’s years and years away. And it’s a distraction. So I think that its something that the government ought to drop, New Mexico doesn’t want it. And instead focus our efforts on building those new tanks.”

The Natural Resources Defense Council based in Washington, D.C., the Southwest Research and Information Center out of Albuquerque, New Mexico and the Seattle-based group Hanford Challenge penned the letter to Secretary Chu.

The Department of Energy did not respond for comment.

Copyright 2013 Northwest Public Radio

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