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‘Catastrophic’ Nuclear leak at Washington’s infamous Hanford Site

text ionisingFlag-USANuclear leak at Washington’s infamous Hanford Site is CATASTROPHIC, former worker claims, as eight inches of radioactive waste escapes core of ‘the world’s safest’ tank, Daily Mail , 20 Apr 16  [EXCELLENT PHOTOS] 

  • Tank has two shells; a crack was spotted in the inner one in 2011
  • Now that crack has widened, spilling waste into the gap between the shells
  • It happened after attempts to pump the waste out of the tank
  • The Department of Energy says this was ‘anticipated’
  • But workers at the plant said they weren’t told it was a possibility 
  • The double-shell tank can contain up to a million gallons of deadly waste
  • It was supposed to be the safest possible container for radioactive liquid 
  • The Hanford Site provided plutonium for the first atomic bomb 

By JAMES WILKINSON FOR DAILYMAIL.COM, 20 April 2016

A nuclear leak first spotted five years ago at Washington state’s Hanford Site has got dramatically worse with eight inches of radioactive liquid escaping a protective carbon steel shell.

The tank, named AY-102, has two shells, with the inner steel layer containing up to one million gallons of the deadly waste, and the outer concrete one providing a two-foot-wide gap to collect the waste if the inner shell broke.

Now a small leak in the inner shell first seen in 2011 has worsened, allowing eight inches of the dangerous goo to leak out in an event that one ex-worker is calling ‘catastrophic.’

Former Hanford worker Mike Geffre was the first to spot the leak in AY-102’s inner shell in 2011, but it took the government a year to actually announce what had happened.

Back then, the small leak only allowed a slow flow of radioactive waste into the gap between the shells, or ‘annulus’. That liquid which would quickly dry up into a white powder. But after five years, they discovered on Sunday that the crack had got worse.

‘This is catastrophic,’ he told KGW.com. ‘This is probably the biggest event to ever happen in tank farm history. The double-shell tanks were supposed to be the saviors of all saviors.’

The Hanford Site was a major Second World War and Cold War nuclear site; it provided plutonium for the first atomic bomb.

It now houses millions of gallons of nuclear waste – two-thirds of all high-level radioactive waste in America in 2007 – and cleanup on the site has been ongoing since 1989.

As well as AY-102, six single-shell tanks were noted to be leaking in 2013.

Ironically, the original cracks in AY-102 appear to have been further widened by government efforts to pump waste out of the tank, sources told KGW.

Pumping began three weeks ago, after Washington state spent three years petitioning the federal government, which owns the tanks, to deal with the damaged structure.

But the change in pressure appears to have ‘blown out’ the weakened wall, causing the increased leak and bringing the waste closer to the nearby Columbia River.

‘The primary tanks weren’t designed to stage waste like this for so many years,’ a current worker told KGW. ‘There’s always the question, “Are the outer shells compromised?”‘…………

workers at the plant told KGW that despite claims the breach was ‘anticipated,’ they had not been made aware that something like this could occur.

And Geffre said that he was frustrated that his warnings in 2011 hadn’t been acted on for an entire year. ‘It’s an example of a culture at Hanford of “We don’t have problems here. We’re doing just fine.” Which is a total lie,’ he said.

Construction on the Hanford site began in 1943, and it went on to house the world’s first full-scale plutonium production reactor, and to provide plutonium for the first atomic bomb.

After the Cold War ended, the site housed 53 million gallons of high-level radioactive waste and 25 million cubic feet of solid radioactive waste.

There were 200 square miles of contaminated groundwater beneath the site. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3547975/Five-year-long-nuclear-leak-Washington-state-s-infamous-Hanford-Site-CATASTROPHIC-former-worker-claims-eight-inches-radioactive-waste-escapes-world-s-safest-tank-one-night.html

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April 20, 2016 - Posted by | incidents, USA

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