22 December 2009

Quick Overview of Environmental and Health Impacts of USDOE's "preferred alternatives"

The draft Tank Closure and Waste Management Environmental Impact Statement, released in October 2009, outlines the Department of Energy's "preferred alternatives" for the future of Hanford cleanup.  These include:
  • Never cleaning up the million gallons of deadly radioactive waste leaked from Hanford's High-Level Nuclear Waste tanks - despite the fact that contamination is moving faster towards the Columbia River than USDOE presiously claimed was possible;
  • Never characterizing, or cleaning up, the 40 miles of unlined soil trenches into which DOE dumped massive amounts of chemical and highly radioactive wastes - including plutonium;
  • Not dismantling the FFTF reactor, instead "entobming" it;
  • And, adding even more waste to Hanford's existing problems.
The impacts to public health and the Columbia River of these "preferred alternatives" are nothing short of deadly - for future generations of our children, Native American tribes with treaty rights to live along the River at Hanford, and for the Columbia River itself.  Heart of America Northwest's expert team is busy reviewing this 6,000 page document.  Our team includes hydrogeologists, retired regulators and risk assessment experts.  We're finding that USDOE's own hidden analysis within the 6,000 pages reveals:
  • Plutonium contamination entering the Columbia River will grow to over 300 times the Drinking Water Standards over the next thousand years due to existing wastes - this is not including the impact of dumping even more wastes at Hanford;
  • Using Hanford as a national waste dump - USDOE's own analysis shows - increases the cancer risk from groundwater tenfold - to 100 times WA State's cleanup cancer risk standard;
But no matter how many deaths are projected from USDOE's plans, USDOE is still free to adopt its "preferred alternatives."

It is up to us - with your help - to stop this from happening! 


  1. Why would the federal government condone adding more waste to the Hanford site? What would this accomplish, especially if they are unable to put in place clean-up actions that would make the area safer? It seems as if this is America's fatalist attitude at its finest: if we cannot fix it, or it is too hard to fix, then why try?

  2. USDOE is under pressure, or possibly legislative mandate, to "clean up" nuclear waste from weapons sites and commercial reactors around the country. They propose to ship it to Hanford to "dispose" of it, so they are seen as fulfilling their responsibility. The trouble is, transportation of the waste is extremely hazardous, and disposing can mean simply dumping in unlined trenches.

  3. I see the pressure put on USDOE from the federal government as well as the US citizens. But why isn't information widely available to citizens to show them that the transportation of the waste and its disposing is just as hazardous as having it lying around at weapons sites and commercial reactors? I'm sure that if people new of this risk, they would put more pressure on USDOE to transport and dispose of the waste safely and ethically.