Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington made a startling announcement Friday. Of the 177 nuclear storage tanks at Washington’s Hanford Nuclear Reservation, six are leaking radioactive toxic waste in liquid form.
Inslee made the announcement after meeting with federal officials in Washington, D.C. Last week it was announced that one of the tanks was leaking. In that tank, liquid levels were decreasing according to the U.S. Department of Energy. However, they say higher radiation levels have not been detected.
The tanks are reportedly long past their intended 20-year life span. They hold millions of gallons of highly radioactive material left over from years of plutonium production for nuclear weapons. David Postman, a spokesman for Inslee said it was also unclear how long the additional tanks have been leaking. Mr. Inslee said in a statement, the DOE “did not adequately analyze data it had that would have shown the other tanks that are leaking.”
The Hanford Nuclear Reservation was built in the 1940s as part of the top-secret Manhattan Project created to build the atomic bomb. The government is spending $2 billion annually for cleanup purposes at Hanford. The $2 billion is 1/3 of the entire budget for nuclear waste cleanup in the US.
There are huge concerns over this project as clean up is behind schedule and over budget at a time when government funding dollars are becoming scarce. Could it be that all those dollars spent on pork projects over the years is beginning to catch up with us? Officials in Washington and Oregon are now even more concerned with a sequestration threat hanging over Congress.