No Immediate Threat Seen From Possible Leak At Hanford Nuclear Site

By Tom Banse

Washington Governor Jay Inslee says he expects it will take a few days to confirm whether radioactive waste has leaked through the outer shell of a double-hulled underground tank at Hanford. The U.S. Department of Energy disclosed Friday that it detected heightened radioactivity levels beneath a tank that holds some of the nation's worst nuclear waste. Inslee says he spoke directly to the new Secretary of Energy to say how unhappy he is with agency's pace of stabilizing half a dozen different leaking tanks.

"We need to insist, and will insist, that the department accelerate their plan to remediate this waste in that tank - and these other leaking tanks," Inslee said. "This has to happen even if there wasn't a leak in that second shell. It's owed to the citizens of the State of Washington. The current plan by the department is seriously deficient."

State officials in both Oregon and Washington stress that the detection of radioactivity outside this latest tank poses no immediate threat to public health. The possibly leaking tank is positioned in the center of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, surrounded by many square miles of desert.

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