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Hanford Nuclear Leak Worsens Dramatically, Waste Elimination Needed

Apr 22, 2016 03:57 AM EDT
Hanford Nuclear Leak Worsens Dramatically, Waste Elimination Needed
Catastrophic worsening of Hanford nuclear leak calls for waste elimination.
(Photo : Jeff T. Green / Stringer/Getty Images)

Nuclear waste leak at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation is said to have worsened dramatically, as proven by leaking between the two underground tanks which displayed an unusual amount of increase on Sunday. Union Bulletin reported that the amount of radioactive waste leak rose up eight inches more than usual and later decreased by one half.

Jerry Holloway of Washington River Protection Solutions, a company managing the underground tanks for the U.S. Department of Energy said that they are checking if the leak may have come directly from the tank itself.

However, the Washington State Department of Ecology assured, "There is no indication of waste leaking into the environment or risk to the public at this time." This followed a statement from the U.S. Department of Energy telling that the incident was anticipated due to an ongoing emptying process on the tank.

Mike Geffre, a former Hanford employee who discovered in 2011 that tank AY-102 was failing, believes otherwise.

"This is catastrophic," said Gefre. "This is probably the biggest event to ever happen in tank farm history. The double shell tanks were supposed to be the saviors of all saviors (to hold waste safely from people and the environment)," he added, according to King5.

The Hanford Nuclear Reservation was built in 1943 to accommodate the world's first full-scale plutonium production reactor and to provide plutonium for the first atomic bomb from World War II.

AY-102 is one of the huge tanks with two thick shells intended for keeping the most dangerous deadly nuclear waste. The inner steel layer which can contain up to one million gallons of deadly waste is covered by a concrete outer layer with two-foot wide gap, provision for waste collection in case the inner shell broke.

The small AY-102 crack that Gefre discovered in 2011 was ignored and was only acknowledged by Washington River Protection Solutions, a government contractor, after a year. Washington state then urged the federal government to empty the tank, a request which was only granted three weeks ago. Sources however suspect that the pumping activity on the aging tank may have caused the widening of the crack to speed up, thereby increasing the amount of leak, as per Daily Mail.

Watch this video for more of the story.

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