Wyden Calls For Investigation Into Hanford’s Leaking Tanks

By Anna King

RICHLAND, Wash. – Oregon Senator Ron Wyden is calling for a federal investigation into the leaking tanks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington. Tuesday the senator asked the federal Government Accountability Office to look into the six single-hulled tanks that are losing radioactive waste.

Wyden is the new chair of a committee that closely watches and funds work at Hanford. The Department of Energy says less-than 3-gallons of radioactive waste could be leaking from the tanks each day. Senator Wyden wrote a letter asking these questions: How were the leaking tanks identified? Are there changes needed in how those tanks are monitored? And when did the Energy department and its contractors learn of the problems? He also wants to know what are the current rules for disclosing a leak and whether those protocols were followed. There is a total of 56-million-gallons of radioactive waste stored in aging underground tanks at Hanford. It’s the leftovers from plutonium production during WWII and the Cold War.

Washington’s Department of Ecology is asking for more information on the tank leaks from Hanford manager the federal Department of Energy. Energy Secretary Steven Chu admitted to Washington Governor Jay Inslee last week in a meeting in Washington, D.C., that the agency had been reading the data wrong and overlooked changes in tank levels.

Copyright 2013 Northwest Public Radio

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