Wyden Seeks Plan to Address Leaks at Hanford

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Sen. Ron Wyden, D- Ore., today asked the Energy Department to come up with a plan and a strict timeline to address storage tanks leaking radioactive nuclear waste at the Hanford Site in Southeast Washington.

Wyden requested the plan in response to a Government Accountability Office report released today that describes the continuing deterioration of Hanford tanks.

The GAO report found that both the older single-shell and newer double-shell tanks at Hanford are continuing to deteriorate. The agency recommended that DOE assess the integrity of all double-shell tanks, update the schedule for removing waste from the tanks and find other ways to create tank space to store the waste from deteriorating tanks, including building new double-shell tanks.

In a letter to Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz today, Wyden asked the Energy Department to implement, rather than just accept, the GAO’s recommendations.

“Agreeing to recommendations is one thing, implementing them is another thing entirely,” Wyden said. “The DOE’s ‘watch-and-wait’ strategy for these tanks leaking nuclear waste into the soil is completely unacceptable. I’m asking for a schedule and a plan of action within 90 days to implement the GAO’s recommendations at Hanford.”

Although the DOE has increased monitoring of the tanks at Hanford, the report found that the department has limited options for stopping the leaks due to lack of safe tank space and its current lack of capacity to treat the waste in the aging tanks.

Wyden requested the report on the safety of the tanks at Hanford after DOE announced additional tank leaks in February 2013.