02 October 2009

Report evaluates rising costs, leaving more waste in Hanford tanks

A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released in September evaluated DOE's tank waste cleanup strategy at Hanford.  53 million gallons of radioactive and hazardous waste are stored in 140 single shell and 28 double shell underground tanks at Hanford.  67 of the single shell tanks have already leaked over 1 million gallons of waste and all of them are out of compliance because they were designed in the 40's and 50's to last for 20 years.

The GAO report suggests that DOE consider leaving more waste in the tanks -- DOE is currently legally required to remove 99% of tank waste, or to empty the tanks to the limits of technology.  GAO states that leaving more waste in the tanks could significantly cut costs, as they predict that tank waste cleanup costs could top $100 billion.  DOE currently estimates that a cool $77 billion will finish the job.  Read the Tri-City Herald article here.

The bottom line is that these tanks are leaking, and wastes must be fully removed and treated to protect the environment and public health.   There's no price tag too high for the protection of the groundwater and the Columbia River for generations to come.

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