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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.

Inslee: Hanford Plan Doesn't Include Immediate Solution For Leaky Waste Tanks

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Anna King
/
Northwest News Network

Washington's Governor calls a new proposal to phase-in portions of cleanup at Hanford an intriguing idea, but says it doesn’t solve immediate problems of leaking waste tanks.

Governor Jay Inslee, who visited southeast Washington Thursday, was responding to a new plan this week from U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.

“We’ve made clear to the Department of Energy that they need to move forward with a plan to stabilize these tanks and remove them from the leaking tanks," said Inslee. "So we can’t take our eye off the ball and the immediate threat which is the leaking tanks as well. Both things need to happen.” '

The governor says the people of Washington are owed a swift solution for the 56 million gallons of radioactive sludge stored in underground tanks at the Hanford reservation. The federal plan would phase-in a massive waste treatment plant to process radioactive waste into glass logs.