Work to empty some Hanford nuclear waste tanks nearly done

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After almost two decades of work, the government has nearly finished removing radioactive wastes from a first group of underground storage tanks in eastern Washington.

Work began 19 years ago to remove radioactive sludge and salt cake from 16 underground tanks known collectively as the C Tank Farm. The wastes are left over from the production of plutonium for nuclear weapons on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

The U.S. Department of Energy said last week that a contractor is in the final stages of removing waste from tank C-105, a 530,000-gallon capacity tank. That tank has stored radioactive wastes since 1947, and is a suspected leaker.

Hanford was established by the Manhattan Project during World War II and made most of the nation’s plutonium for nuclear weapons.