Hanford Nuclear Reservation

Associated Press

Workers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation could start receiving furlough notices on Wednesday because of the partial shutdown of the federal government.

The Tri-City Development Council estimates that about 9,000 Hanford and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory workers could eventually be put on temporary leave or laid off.

AP Photo

State officials say they’re disappointed but not surprised by news that the federal government will likely miss several more cleanup deadlines at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

At Hanford, radioactive sludge stews in aging underground tanks not far from the Columbia River. A 1989 agreement created the timeline for treating that caustic gunk. But the task has proven extremely difficult. A Waste Treatment Plant has been plagued by whistleblowers, critical federal investigations, cost overruns, and delays. 

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

A new proposal to phase-in portions of cleanup at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation is an intriguing idea, but it doesn’t solve immediate problems of leaking waste tanks, said Gov. Jay Inslee during a visit Thursday.

The Democrat was responding to a new plan this week from U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. 

Courtesy of the U.S. Department of Energy.

Fifty years ago today, President John F. Kennedy stepped off a Marine helicopter into the dry heat of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington.

He was there to see the massive new N Reactor. The reactor was the first to produce both plutonium and power in the U.S. The visit was also part of Kennedy’s efforts to de-escalate the Cold War.

Ted S. Warrena / Associated Press

There’s a new plan for cleanup at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. The federal government is looking for ways to process certain types of radioactive waste more quickly, while managers there figure out how to solve major technical challenges at its massive Waste Treatment Plant.

U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz released the new framework Tuesday after a year of study.

The tank farms at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington are cleared to resume work after a high-radiation incident briefly shut down much of the site last month.

The Hanford Nuclear Reservation has inspired documentaries, museum exhibits, art shows, and even a book of poetry.

Now, a Seattle band call Tangerine is about to release a new song that tackles the leaking tanks of radioactive waste at the federal site.

“I guess it’s a slightly unusual topic for a pop song, especially one that has a romantic angle,” said Marika Justad, who sings, plays the guitar and the piano for the alternative-pop band.

Crews at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation are investigating increased radiological readings at a tank farm there.

Part of the massive site was shut down following the reading Wednesday night.

U.S. Department of Energy

Washington’s state attorney is praising an appeals court decision on a nuclear waste repository in Nevada. The ruling requires the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to get the licensing process back on track for Yucca Mountain.

The state of Washington wants Yucca Mountain to be the permanent waste repository for radioactive waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. But President Barack Obama buried the project because of opposition from Nevada’s political leaders. Now, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has ruled that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has to continue forward with the licensing of the facility. 

Crews at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation say have cleaned up 15 million tons of radioactive soil and debris from near the Columbia River, managers announced on Tuesday.  

The debris has gone to a massive dump at the center of the site. The Environmental Restoration Disposal Facility, called ERDF for short, is the size of 52 football fields.

Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

The U.S. Department of Energy has agreed to pay $136,000 in fines allegedly mishandling certain lab waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. The penalty comes from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Energy contractors allegedly stored some radioactive waste without permits, and placed some of it in a landfill before treating it. We’re talking about contaminated science glove boxes, lab equipment and concrete. Environmental regulators studied records from the late 1980s through 2011 in this investigation.

Rachel La Corte / Associated Press

Gov. Jay Inslee says it will likely take a few days to confirm whether radioactive waste has leaked through the outer shell of a double-hulled underground tank at Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

Earlier Friday, the U.S. Department of Energy disclosed it detected heightened radioactivity levels beneath a tank that holds some of the nation's worst nuclear waste. Inslee said he spoke directly to the new secretary of energy to say how unhappy he is with agency's pace of stabilizing half a dozen different leaking tanks.

Workers are back on the job at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation’s waste treatment plant. Work stopped this week when radioactive soil was found under the nests of some swallows.

Swallows used some radioactive mud to make nests on exposed beamwork in Hanford’s waste treatment plant. That’s the $12 billion factory designed to bind-up radioactive sludge in glass logs. The nests were found during routine tests, but this is the first radioactive contamination of the new plant.

Mark Triplett / PNNL

The people overseeing the cleanup of the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster are learning some valuable lessons from the long-running cleanup at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. A Japanese government delegation recently toured some of the southeast Washington site this week.

Photo courtesy of CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company.

Cleanup of a hazardous chemical in the groundwater at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation is going faster than expected.

Hexavalent chromium is the nasty stuff that made Erin Brockovich famous down in California. The chemical was used to inhibit rust in coolant water in Hanford’s reactors. But that water was dumped into the desert, and now the carcinogen is making its way toward the Columbia River in large groundwater plumes.

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