31 March 2010

Seattle Times Cover Story on Hanford

On Monday, March 29th, the Seattle Times cover story featured Hanford:

We encourage you to read the above article, and we were excited to see Hanford on the front page of the Times...it's been a while!

Our Field Organizer, Lisa Van Dyk, wrote a letter to the editor in response to the article that the Times chose not to publish in print or on the website.  So, we're choosing to self-publish it here:

Editor, The Times:

Thank you for printing the front page story on Hanford & Yucca Mountain.  However, the plans for and status of clean up at Hanford is a much more relevant issue for Washingtonians than the status of Yucca Mountain, as only a portion of Hanford’s High-Level Nuclear Waste would have been sent there for disposal.

The article expresses concern about Hanford receiving offsite radioactive waste as a result of Yucca Mountain’s closure, but fails to inform Washingtonians about the Department of Energy’s (DOE) current proposal that is out for public comment through May 3rd.  In the Hanford draft Tank Closure & Waste Management Environmental Impact Statement, the DOE outlines its plans to import 3 million cubic feet of radioactive & mixed radioactive/hazardous waste to Hanford, regardless of the status of Yucca Mountain.

Adding any more waste to the most contaminated site in the Western Hemisphere without first bringing the existing wastes into compliance with the law is unreasonable, and will greatly impact the environment and public health.  The public can comment on this plan through email (TC&WMEIS@saic.com) or U.S. Mail (TC & WM EIS, P.O. Box 1178, Richland, WA 99352).

Lisa Van Dyk, Seattle

What do you think of the Seattle Times article & this letter to the editor?  What would you have said differently?


  1. It is not accurate to say that some of the high-level waste would be disposed of at Yucca Mountain. All of Hanford's high-level tank waste was destined for deep geologic disposal after being immobilized in glass using a technology called vitrification. The remaining low activity waste - which is a signifcant volume of the tank waste - will also be vitrified and disposed of on the Hanford Site.

  2. Bob Alvarez: "Even if Yucca Mt. was put back on the table, nearly two thirds of Hanford’s high-level radioactive waste canisters would remain stranded. In order to accommodate the burgeoning inventory of spent reactor fuel, DOE decided in its 2002 Record of Decision for the Yucca Mt Final Environmental Impact Statement to dispose only 36 percent of the glass logs expected to be generated for all DOE high-level wastes. In February 2004, DOE explicitly stated in Federal Court that “Yucca Mountain does not have the space for all defense HLW waste.” Hanford’s allocation was reduced by 64 percent. And so, approximately 9,280 high-level waste canisters were expected to remain at Hanford, awaiting disposal in a second repository"