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Environment and Planning
00000179-65ef-d8e2-a9ff-f5ef8d430000The Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington was home to Native Americans and later to settlers. It turned into an top-secret military workhorse during World War II and the Cold War. Now, it’s one of the most pressing and complex environmental cleanup challenges humanity is facing in the world.This remote area in southeast Washington is where the federal government made plutonium for bombs during WWII and the Cold War. It’s now home to some of the most toxic contamination on earth, a witch’s brew of chemicals, radioactive waste and defunct structures. In central Hanford, leaking underground tanks full of radioactive sludge await a permanent solution. Meanwhile, a massive $12 billion waste treatment plant, designed to bind up that tank waste into more stable glass logs, has a troubled history.00000179-65ef-d8e2-a9ff-f5ef8d440000Anna King is public radio's correspondent in Richland, Washington, covering the seemingly endless complexities of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

Sen. Wyden Wants Investigation Into More Tank Leaks At Hanford

Hanford Nuclear Reservation
US Department of Energy

RICHLAND, Wash. – Oregon Senator Ron Wyden will be asking the federal Government Accountability Office to investigate the Hanford Nuclear Reservation’s tank monitoring and maintenance program. This after Friday’s revelation that a total of seven tanks are leaking at Hanford, and there might be more.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee met with Energy Secretary Steven Chu Friday. The Democratic governor says Chu told him that the agency is looking for faster ways to secure the leaking underground tanks of waste. Inslee called the news ‘disturbing’ and said the new information comes because the Department of Energy hadn’t interpreted data correctly in the past.

“The bottom line is that the data that has been generated for years at least in my view has not been properly evaluated," Inslee said. "And we’ll need to have that evaluation for those tanks. We are essentially in the process of that now, and it’s not been completed.”

The tanks holding the leftovers from World War II and Cold War plutonium production aren’t far from the Columbia River. The Department of Energy says there is no immediate public health risk.

On the Web:

Gov. Inslee's statement on leaking tanks at Hanford - Office of the Governor