Friday, February 22, 2013

Safe Nuclear Storage

 ... is not the same as Safe Sex

At least for now a condom to prevent exposure to nuclear waste has not yet been developed. The only route to avoid nuclear waste is to stop generating it. This has to begin NOW, not tomorrow, next week or next year - and especially not waiting until we have a disaster on our hands.

Hanford Nuclear Reservation’s Cold War attack on the Columbia River

Another radioactive leak has sprung from a 1940’s vintage radioactive sludge storage tank at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeastern Washington State. The now closed Hanford site hosts 56 million gallons of highly radioactive byproducts leftover from the nation’s nuclear weapons program since 1944.  This latest radioactive leak is coming from one of the 149 single-shell underground storage tanks originally designed for a 20-year storage period. All told, more than 1 million gallons of nuclear waste are known to have leaked from the nuclear weapons production and storage facility into the desert soil over the years. The various radioactive plumes are moving in groundwater toward the Columbia River which borders on 50 miles of the reservation as close as seven miles away from the tank farm.
This most recent discovery was announced by the Department of Energy (DOE) on February 15, 2013 with a drop in the liquid level estimated at 150 to 300 gallons per year from the total 530,000 gallons stored in a  tank identified as T-111.
Since 1989, the DOE has spent $16 billion on several schemes to manage Hanford’s nuclear waste all abandoned due to lack of credibility, cost escalations and unacceptable contractor performance. The DOE’s current plan is to finish construction of a $13.5 billion “Waste Treatment Plant” (WTP) to separate the dangerous waste stream into high-level and “low-activity” nuclear waste.  The high-level waste is to be immobilized in a glass-forming material that is then sealed in stainless steel canisters to cool and harden for eventual deep geological burial. The “low-activity” nuclear waste would be “vitrified” (immobilized in glass material) and dumped on-site.  However, the Government Accounting Office (GAO) recently warned in aDecember 2012 report that this massive clean-up project is already delayed beyond 2019 with out-of-control construction costs. If ever completed, the GAO identifies that the colossal operation itself will be faced with “significant safety and operation problems” due to the generation and build-up of explosive hydrogen gas in a pipeline system nearly one million linear feet long.
Facing facts, there is no “safe storage” of nuclear waste. Likewise, there is no permanent radioactive “clean-up” only “trans-contamination” of the environment.  The most responsible long-term management plan for nuclear waste is to stop generating it.  The utter and total irresponsibility of the nuclear industry is coming clearer to light with looming federal cuts to address threats from the endless legacy of the Atomic Age.  It is now paramount that the Columbia River and the American Northwest be protected from our own Cold War nuclear attack.  
Source: Beyond Nuclear February 21, 2013

1 comment:

  1. Now they're saying the leaks are worse than first thought. I wonder if everyone will ignore this, as they ignore anything related to nuclear power.