Department Of Energy Says No Exterior Leak From Hanford Tank

By Anna King

Here’s an update on a double-hulled tank that’s leaking internally at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington. The Department of Energy said today that recent tests show there is no leak of radioactive material outside of the tank. But the State of Washington says it still wants Hanford managers to pump the liquids out of the tank immediately. 

Tank AY-102 holds more than an Olympic-sized swimming pool’s worth of toxic radioactive waste. Federal managers say video and water tests found no leaks so-far outside of the tank. But Washington State officials aren’t convinced this tank will stay sound. That’s why they are asking the Department of Energy to pump out all the liquid it can from AY-102. John Price is with Ecology.

John Price: “I think in this case when you’re looking at highly radioactive chemical waste in a tank you want to error on the side of being conservative, conservative in terms of protecting human health and the environment.”

Price says some liquids would have to be left because the toxic stew in the tank is also temperature hot and needs water for cooling.

Original DOE statement from July 19, 2013:

The Office of River Protection is continuing to investigate the origin of the increased radiation level
found while removing rainwater from the leak detection pit of Hanford double-shell tank AY-102. The
testing conducted thus far has included sampling the water remaining in the leak detection pit, video
inspection, and disassembly and analysis of the pump used to remove the water from the pit. Based on
this testing, there is no conclusive indication of a leak from the secondary tank at this
time. Nevertheless, DOE has taken the actions needed to prepare to immediately begin pumping the
liquid from this tank if warranted. The cleanup of tank waste at Hanford’s nuclear facilities and
protection of the workers, public and environment remains a high priority for the Department. We will
continue to keep the State of Washington, Congress and other key stakeholders apprised of the progress
of the investigation and planned actions with AY-102.

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