Hanford Nuclear Reservation

Hanford Nuclear Reservation
7:41 pm
Mon October 22, 2012

Hanford managers confirm slow leak in radioactive waste tank

Routine periodic visual monitoring (via camera) of the AY-102 annulus found material that was never before seen. Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Energy

Originally published on Mon October 22, 2012 5:57 pm

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.

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Hanford Nuclear Reservation
2:38 pm
Fri October 12, 2012

Judge dismisses Hanford whistleblower case

Walt Tamosaitis blew the whistle on the U.S. Department of Energy’s waste treatment plant at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington. Photo by Anna King

Originally published on Fri October 12, 2012 2:35 pm

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.

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Nuclear waste
4:13 pm
Tue October 9, 2012

Report: Hanford unprepared for early start on cleanup

Hanford Waste Treatment Plan's Pretreatment Facility as seen from the center of the construction site. Photo by US Department of Energy

Originally published on Tue October 9, 2012 3:27 pm

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.

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Hanford Nuclear Reservation
7:52 am
Thu August 30, 2012

Questions linger over piping Hanford's nuclear waste to treatment plant

The Hanford Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant is located on the U.S. Department of Energy's Hanford site. Photo courtesy of Bechtel

Originally published on Wed August 29, 2012 4:47 pm

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.

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Hanford Nuclear Reservation
8:38 am
Thu June 28, 2012

Washington state may be honored for producing the A-bomb

Hanford's B Reactor was the world’s first, full-scale nuclear reactor and produced the plutonium used in the “Fat Man” bomb dropped over Nagasaki, Japan. Photo courtesy Department of Energy

Originally published on Wed June 27, 2012 4:14 pm

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.

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Hanford Nuclear Reservation
5:10 pm
Tue May 22, 2012

Hearing Focuses On Progress Of Hanford's Safety Culture

Chairman of the DNFSB Peter S. Winokur presides over a hearing on the safety culture at Hanford. Image via DNFSB video

Originally published on Tue May 22, 2012 5:33 pm

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.

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Hanford Nuclear Reservation
8:34 am
Sun May 6, 2012

Hanford whistleblower may not get jury trial

Walt Tamosaitis and his wife outside the federal courthouse in Yakima, Wash. Thursday. By Anna King.

Originally published on Thu May 3, 2012 10:00 pm

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.

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Hanford Nuclear Reservation
3:01 pm
Mon April 30, 2012

Report: Hanford vessels fail to meet requirements

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.

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Hanford Nuclear Reservation
9:50 am
Mon April 16, 2012

Occupy Portland protesters target Hanford

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.

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Hanford Nuclear Reservation
10:41 am
Mon March 26, 2012

Despite strides, safety culture still in question at Hanford site

Donna Busche is the manager for environmental and nuclear safety at Hanford’s waste treatment plant. Photo by Anna King

Originally published on Fri March 23, 2012 12:00 am

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.

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Hanford Nuclear Reservation
10:29 am
Fri March 23, 2012

Hanford needs its treatment plant components reexamined

Donna Busche, in pink, told the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board that she can't vouch for the safety of some of the waste treatment plant's components at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington.

Originally published on Fri March 23, 2012 12:00 am

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.

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Hanford Nuclear Reservation
9:32 am
Tue January 17, 2012

Report: Hanford tanks may have more plutonium than estimated

Originally published on Mon January 16, 2012 9:18 pm

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.

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Environment
10:12 am
Wed January 11, 2012

Hanford whistleblower case dismissed against Bechtel

Originally published on Wed January 11, 2012 9:18 am

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.

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Hanford Nuclear Reservation
3:43 pm
Fri January 6, 2012

Hanford whistleblower to appear in court against Bechtel

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.

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Other News
5:54 pm
Tue December 6, 2011

Hanford whistleblower seeks stronger protection laws in Senate testimony

Hanford Nuclear Reservation whistleblower Walt Tamosaitis testifies before the Senate Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight. Image via US Senate

Originally published on Tue December 6, 2011 5:22 pm

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.

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