22 October 2009

Rep. Doc Hastings looks for answers on nuclear waste disposal

Washington Representative Doc Hastings (R) put the pressure on Obama to come up with a Yucca Mt. alternative in a letter on Tuesday. Since Obama cut funding for Yucca Mt. earlier this year, there has been no serious public discussion of alternatives for national radioactive waste repository. Hastings asked Obama whether Hanford would be studied as a possibility, how much the studies will cost, and when the committee members will be selected.

Annette Cary, of the Tri-City Herald, reports, "Hanford officials have been planning to send the nuclear reservation's high-level radioactive waste to Yucca Mountain. That includes millions of gallons of wastes stored in underground tanks.

"Up to 53 million gallons of the tank wastes will be separated into high-level and low-activity radioactive waste at the $12.3 billion vitrification plant under construction at Hanford, where it then will be turned into a stable glass form for disposal.

"The glassified high-level waste will have to be stored at Hanford until the nation has a place for its disposal, and Hanford watchdog groups and some Tri-City leaders are concerned about Hanford becoming a de facto long-term repository." Read the full article here.


  1. I don't know if moving the waste to another site would necessarily help the problem. I feel as though Hanford officials have been trying to put the waste in other people backyard since this project started. By bringing the waste to Yucca Mountain they will then be creating a radioactive hazard to the residents of that area as well. Or how do we know that moving it from one state to another will not cause hazards? People need to realize the ramifications of their actions. What if the waste there seeps into wells of the residents just as it did in Ohio in the Fernald preserve? On the other hand, I am happy to hear that the Obama administration is finally trying to come up with some sort of solution to the mess at Hanford.

  2. Esingh,

    Thanks for your comments! Your thoughts exemplify one of the biggest issues with nuclear waste -- since it lasts and is dangerous for thousands of years, we need to have a plan of where to store it. It is dangerous to truck radioactive waste around the country, but you'd be surprised how often it is done (see our earlier blog post on "Hanford finishes shipping plutonium..." for one example).

    In addition, this news article is just about Hastings putting pressure on the administration to come up with a plan for nuclear waste. It's hard to say if the Obama administration has a "solution to the mess at Hanford".

  3. agreed. It's funny how the pressure is on Obama to act quickly to solve a problem that has been neglected for so many years.

    The focus should be on meeting the obligations and requirements of the current clean up act and not allowing more waste to be dumped on top of what is already there.