Significant amount of waste leaks within Hanford double-shell tank

Enough waste has leaked between the shells of the double-shell tank to reach 8 inches deep in the space between the shells. Associated Press


HANFORD, Wash. — Officials at the Hanford Nuclear reservation have confirmed that significantly more waste has leaked from the inner tank of a double-shell waste storage tank.

So far, no waste has leaked from the tank into the soil beneath it, but checks are ongoing.

The leak occurred over the weekend as workers pumped radioactive sludge from the tank, which was already leaking.

"The tank, Hanford's oldest double shell tank, was being emptied because it had waste leaking into the space between its shells in three places. About 70 gallons of waste had been estimated to have leaked, drying in three separate patches," the Tri-City Herald reported.

According to Jerry Holloway, external affairs manager for the Washington River Protection, "this was the amount of waste that had leaked over the past 3 or more years."

Enough waste appeared to have leaked out to fill a space between the shells that was 8 inches deep.

Pumping to empty the tank stopped when the increased leakage was detected, the Herald said.

"Hanford workers found no waste outside the tank in the leak detection pit in an initial check Sunday. That does not rule out that waste may have leaked somewhere else from the tank," the Herald reported.

The Washington State Department of Ecology says there is no danger to workers or the public.

The DOE says the increased rate of leakage may have occurred because of work inside the tank dislodged material that was partially blocking leak sites.