Hanford Nuclear Reservation

RICHLAND, Wash. – Washington Governor Jay Inslee Wednesday expressed his continuing apprehension over the tank leaks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington. He says as the Department of Energy and its contractors are evaluating more than 100 tanks with a new set of criteria, “I have real concerns about the remaining single shell tanks as well.”

Separately, Hanford managers said Wednesday they’ve successfully cleaned up a major part of contaminated land just north of Richland called the 300 Area.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Washington Governor Jay Inslee says at least seven tanks of radioactive waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation are leaking, not two. He says the Department of Energy and its contractors have apparently miscalculated data that would have found the leaks earlier.

  RICHLAND, Wash. – News out of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation can sometimes sound like just one critical report after another. In fact, last week a federal watchdog agency said Hanford’s massive waste treatment plant is in jeopardy. Several developments lately have intensified the debate over this question: Should a massive federal waste treatment plant move ahead or stop to fix its nagging technical problems?

Management Change For Hanford Treatment Plant

Nov 27, 2012

RICHLAND, Wash. – A Hanford watchdog group is concerned with what it calls a “revolving door” for top managers at the nuclear site in southeast Washington.

Recently the U.S. Department of Energy announced it’s replacing the man in charge of cleaning up leaky underground tanks of radioactive waste after just 18 months on the job. That manager also oversees construction of a $12 billioncwaste treatment plant.

In Seattle, the head of the group Hanford Challenge, Tom Carpenter, says there have been too many leadership changes.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Workers the Hanford Nuclear Reservation are readying pumping equipment at a slow-leaking radioactive waste tank in case the leak gets worse. A newly released report details why the tank became unstable.

Hanford officials say so far they’ve found no waste leaking into the environment from the tank called AY-102.

The new report says many of the tanks original welds from 40 years ago didn’t meet standards and had to be fixed before it was filled. Later, super-hot waste was added that was likely corrosive to the tank’s metal walls.

RICHLAND, Wash. – The Hanford Nuclear Reservation needs new storage tanks for radioactive waste, now that one of the aging double-hulled tanks has been found to be leaking. That was the consensus Friday of a board that advises federal Hanford managers. Correspondent Anna King reports.

Building new tanks at Hanford would be a major policy shift. The last time the idea was on the table was the late '90s. Federal experts warn that it might take seven years if they started now to build new tanks for Hanford’s waste.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Now let’s shift to the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in the desert of southeast Washington. A double-hulled underground tank there is leaking radioactive waste.

Next week federal officials are mustering a several-hundred page report on the problem. Experts worry about what the leak means for long-term storage of radioactive tank waste at Hanford.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Managers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation have confirmed that a radioactive waste tank has a slow leak. That waste isn’t getting into the environment.

This house-sized vessel is known as AY-102. It’s made of steel and concrete and buried underground to shield workers from high levels of radiation. It’s full of hazardous radioactive sludge left over from plutonium production here.

It was designed to last for about 40 years, and it’s already had its 44th birthday. The tank is leaking into the space between its two hulls in two spots.

Judge dismisses Hanford whistleblower case

Oct 12, 2012

A federal judge this week dismissed a lawsuit by a high-level whistleblower against a contractor at the Hanford nuclear site. A former manager there had voiced safety concerns about the design of a plant meant to treat millions of gallons of radioactive waste.

Walt Tamosaitis worked -– and continues to work -– for Hanford contractor URS. He claims the managers on the waste treatment plant were cutting corners. The plant is part of a massive effort to cleanup radioactive waste at Hanford.

Report: Hanford unprepared for early start on cleanup

Oct 9, 2012

A new report says plans to get an early start at cleaning up some radioactive waste at Hanford may not work the way managers envisioned. The document is the latest criticism of a project to treat waste at the southeast Washington nuclear site.

The Department of Energy is building a massive complex designed to turn 56 million gallons of radioactive waste into glass logs. Hanford managers had hoped to get a head start on one facility to treat lower level waste.

RICHLAND, Wash. -- This week we heard that yet another top-level government engineer has serious concerns about the design and construction of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation’s waste treatment plant. If that wasn’t enough of a headache for the U.S. Department of Energy, there’s more. A new report from the investigative arm of that department is raising concerns about the design and construction of the system that’s intended to carry the waste to the treatment plant.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congress is moving forward with legislation to establish a national park devoted to the Manhattan Project that spurred the global atomic era. One of the proposed sites is at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington. It was the subject of a hearing Wednesday.

Washington state played a key role in helping the U.S. develop nuclear weapons. The Department of Energy hails the Hanford site as an “engineering marvel.” It was the first large scale plutonium production facility in the world and was erected in a mere 13 months.

The Hanford Nuclear Reservation’s waste treatment plant is making progress on improving its safety culture. That’s the upshot of a hearing Tuesday in Washington, D.C. before a federal nuclear watchdog agency. But not everyone familiar with the nuclear site agreed with that positive assessment.

Hanford whistleblower may not get jury trial

May 6, 2012

YAKIMA, Wash. – A Hanford whistleblower lawsuit is underway in federal court in Yakima. A former high-level manager on a nuclear treatment project is asking for a jury trial, but the judge hearing the case said Thursday that’s unlikely.

YAKIMA, Wash. — A federal audit has concluded that the Energy Department and a contractor building a nuclear plant at the Hanford reservation installed tanks that did not always meet requirements of a quality assurance program or the contract.

RICHLAND, Wash. — About 150 Occupy Portland protesters went on a field trip to Washington state this weekend to protest nuclear war, nuclear energy and nuclear waste.

They were visiting Richland, Wash., which is next to Hanford nuclear reservation.

RICHLAND, Wash. – The Department of Energy says a Hanford contractor tried to interfere with an investigation into nuclear safety at the site. That’s according to letters from top Energy officials in an ongoing debate over the site’s safety culture.

Earlier this month independent investigators within the Department of Energy were conducting interviews about Hanford’s massive waste treatment plant. They wanted to interview Donna Busche, the plant’s nuclear and environmental safety manager and a high level critic.

KENNEWICK, Wash. – Top managers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation say they’re going to have to reexamine key components of a massive waste treatment plant under construction in southeast Washington. That’s according to testimony at a marathon hearing in Kennewick Thursday.

The federal Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board was there to listen to concerns about the plant being built to treat 56 million gallons of radioactive waste.

RICHLAND, Wash. – The Hanford Nuclear Reservation's tank farms in southeast Washington may have much more plutonium than earlier estimated. That's according to a report by a Hanford contractor that's just been leaked to public radio. At least one high-level Hanford official worries the findings could mean a massive waste treatment plant's design might need to be altered.

RICHLAND, Wash. – A Benton County Superior Court judge in southeast Washington has dismissed a Hanford whistleblower's case against a government contractor. That means that whistleblower, Walt Tamosaitis , will have to appeal if he wishes to keep fighting the Hanford contractor.

RICHLAND, Wash. – After more than a year of waiting, a high-profile Hanford whistleblower will argue in court Monday that his case should be heard in front of a jury. But federal contractor Bechtel argues the case should be thrown out.

The U.S. Senate heard testimony Tuesday on protecting whistleblowers who work on federal projects. A key witness was the well-known Hanford Nuclear Reservation whistleblower Walt Tamosaitis.

He testified he was taken out of his high-level management role on Hanford's waste treatment plant after he raised safety concerns. He now works in a basement office.

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill asked Tamosaitis what effect that has had on the larger project.

RICHLAND, Wash. – The Hanford Nuclear Reservation is treating more contaminated groundwater than ever before. In November alone, pumping stations at the southeast Washington site churned out a record 100 million gallons of treated groundwater. That could fill more than 150 Olympic-size swimming pools.

Deep beneath Hanford there are massive plumes of contaminated groundwater inching toward the Columbia River. The plumes carry toxic stuff like radioactive contamination and hexavalent chromium.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

KENNEWICK, Wash. – There’s a new lawsuit over safety issues at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. The case announced Wednesday comes from the same whistleblower who has raised serious concerns about the waste treatment factory being built at the nuclear site in southeast Washington.

RICHLAND, Wash. — Sunday is the National Day of Remembrance honoring Cold War nuclear workers. In the Tri-Cities, Washington, dozens of the people who worked at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation to help make plutonium for bombs gathered Friday. Correspondent Anna King met James Bresina , and she has this audio postcard about his time on the nuclear site.

When I started out there I was what they call a 'youth opportunity trainee.' I made $1.25 and hour for my wages.

My name is James Bresina, and I worked at Hanford from 1966 to 1995. It was very secretive. Very tense.

RICHLAND, Wash. — A Hanford worker was taken for a ride in a portable toilet when it was picked up by a fork lift driver who didn't realize it was occupied.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Workers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation are trying to flush and clean contaminated groundwater that runs deep under southeast Washington.

The massive plumes of radioactive and toxic chemicals are leftovers from plutonium production during World War II and the Cold War. Decontaminating all that groundwater is a monumental task. And as correspondent Anna King found out, it will only get harder over time.

Some of the groundwater pumped up from Hanford near the Columbia River is so contaminated it looks like flat Mountain Dew.

More than 1,000 workers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation are getting layoff notices. This latest round of downsizing started this week due to reduced federal funding in 2012.

RICHLAND, Wash. – The Waste Treatment Plant at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation is getting more scrutiny after complaints over its safety culture. The U.S. Government Accountability Office – the investigative arm of Congress – is launching a review.

Representatives Henry Waxman of California and Diana DeGett of Colorado asked for the study. Both are members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Anna King / KPLU

RICHLAND, Wash. – U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says turning a historic piece of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation into a National Park would be good for the Northwest economy. He made the comment during a tour of Eastern Washington this weekend.