Ernest Moniz, the new secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy visits Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington on Wednesday. Among the issues he will have to deal with are the leaking underground tanks of radioactive waste and the troubled waste treatment plant.
From his resume, it appears Moniz isn’t short on brainpower. He’s been on the faculty of MIT since 1973. Secretary Moniz received a Bachelor of Science degree summa cum laude in physics from Boston College and a doctorate in theoretical physics from Stanford University.
The federal government says in a new report that it may take six years to start emptying a leaking double-hulled tank of waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.
Washington state law says any leaks must be dealt with as soon as possible – but the federal government’s soon as possible is maybe years away. That’s because it could take 18 months just to get and set up equipment to pump sludge from the leaking double-hulled tank called AY-102. In addition it will take about six years to secure appropriate tank space to put all that sludge.
Washington Governor Jay Inslee and the state attorney general say they’re quote ‘extremely disappointed’ that the U.S. Department of Energy may miss several key deadlines for cleanup at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.
The two milestones that may be missed are: completing waste retrieval from two of Hanford’s aging single-shell tanks and finishing up construction on the Low Activity Waste Facility, one of the key parts of Hanford’s Waste Treatment Plant.
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.