Alarming leak announced at Hanford Nuclear Reservation

Author: Annie Bishop, KXLY4 Reporter , annieb@kxly.com
Published On: Feb 16 2013 12:21:24 AM PST
BENTON, Wash. -

Governor Jay Inslee has only been in office for a month and he's already faced with cleaning up one of the biggest messes of our time.

On Friday, the U.S. Department of Energy notified Gov. Inslee about an underground tank leaking at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

The tank is believed to be leaking between 150-300 gallons of radioactive waste a year.  In all, there are 177 underground tanks with radioactive sludge at Hanford.

"We cannot leave 149 single-shell tanks with high-level radioactive liquid and sludge in the ground for decades after their design life," Gov. Inslee said.

"Let me be clear. Washington state has a zero tolerance policy on radioactive leaks. We will not tolerate any leaks of this material into our environment. Our highest priority is the security at this site. And we have got to make sure that we are sequestering radioactive material in these tanks and not accepting a federal sequestration that threatens the continued viability and clean-up at Hanford," he added.

WashPIRG, a nonpartisan consumer advocacy group based in Seattle, has been keeping an close eye on Hanford for decades.

"Well, today's news is to be honest shocking, but at the same time we could have anticipated it because it's another reminder that there is no proven way to safely dispose of radioactive waste," Micaela Preskill said.

Micaela Preskill, an advocate for WashPIRG, hopes this latest leak will cause enough alarm to finally make Hanford clean up a top priority for the federal government.

"So it really is a huge crisis and something that we must address," she added.