Hanford

U.S. Department of Energy via AP

A portion of an underground tunnel containing rail cars full of radioactive waste collapsed Tuesday at a sprawling storage facility in a remote area of Washington state, forcing an evacuation of some workers at the site that made plutonium for nuclear weapons for decades after World War II.

Officials detected no release of radiation at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation and no workers were injured, said Randy Bradbury, a spokesman for the Washington state Department of Ecology.

Managers at the Hanford are looking for creative ways to save money through an idea competition with federal and contractor employees called the Grand Challenge.

Hanford
Washington Closure Hanford

This week federal officials roll out a series of public meetings around what to do about radioactive materials that are near the Columbia River. This area of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation is known as the 300 Area.

It’s where workers milled uranium rods and tested ways to process plutonium during WWII and the Cold War. They poured about 2 million gallons of radioactive liquid waste a day into sandy ponds and trenches next to the Columbia River.

RICHLAND, Wash. -- Up to three gallons of radioactive waste per day at Hanford seeps into the desert sand from underground tanks, not far from the Columbia River. That’s prompted Washington State Governor Jay Inslee to tour the remote site along with buses full of officials and media that roll through a sea of sagebrush.

The buses slow near some of the leaking radioactive underground tanks. Tom Fletcher, who manages the containment farms, points out the various groupings.

RICHLAND, Wash. – It may take two to four years to even begin clearing radioactive waste from leaking tanks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. That’s according to Washington Governor Jay Inslee. He toured the southeast Washington nuclear site Wednesday.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Oregon Senator Ron Wyden is calling for a federal investigation into the leaking tanks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington. Tuesday the senator asked the federal Government Accountability Office to look into the six single-hulled tanks that are losing radioactive waste.

Wyden is the new chair of a committee that closely watches and funds work at Hanford. The Department of Energy says less than three gallons of radioactive waste could be leaking from the tanks each day.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Major portions of the cleanup work at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation could stall if budget cuts known as the sequester start in March. The impasse comes just as two tanks at the southeast Washington site may be leaking.

A report by the Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee estimates that the budget cuts beginning in March would furlough more than 1,000 workers at Hanford for about six weeks. The document also says that pumping radioactive tank waste out of suspect underground tanks to newer vessels would be delayed.

RICHLAND, Wash. – A Hanford Nuclear Reservation watchdog says U.S. Energy officials have bigger problems than the waste that has possibly leaking from a tank in southeast Washington. The tank called T-111, is losing about 150 to 300 gallons of liquid waste a year.

Tom Carpenter heads the Seattle-based watchdog group Hanford Challenge. He says Friday’s news highlights the fact that there’s little space to move highly radioactive waste to.

RICHLAND, Wash. – A tank full of radioactive waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington may be leaking. Friday the U.S. Department of Energy and its contractors say liquid levels in an underground radioactive waste tank are going down.

The single-hulled tank is called T-111. It’s located in central Hanford in a group of tanks called T-farm. The Department of Energy reports the rate of loss is about 150 to 300 gallons of liquid a year.

  RICHLAND, Wash. – News out of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation can sometimes sound like just one critical report after another. In fact, last week a federal watchdog agency said Hanford’s massive waste treatment plant is in jeopardy. Several developments lately have intensified the debate over this question: Should a massive federal waste treatment plant move ahead or stop to fix its nagging technical problems?

At the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington, the race is on to clean up radioactive sludge buried in aging underground tanks. Some of that waste has already leaked into the soil not far from the Columbia River.

Attempts to use high-tech robotics to hose out waste tanks haven't gone as planned. And an important federal cleanup deadline is fast approaching. Anna King has visited one of the Hanford tank farms several times to see what’s causing the delays. She shares this first person account.