SPOKANE, WASHINGTON – There are “significant construction flaws” in some newer, double-walled storage tanks at a U.S. nuclear waste complex in Washington state that could lead to additional leaks, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.
The tanks hold some of the worst radioactive waste at the most contaminated nuclear site in the country.
One of the 28 giant underground tanks at Hanford was found to be leaking in 2012. But subsequent surveys of other double-walled tanks performed for the Department of Energy by one of its Hanford contractors found at least six shared defects with the leaking tank that could lead to future leaks, the documents said. Thirteen additional tanks might also be compromised, according to the documents. Hanford, built at the height of World War II as part of the Manhattan Project to build the atomic bomb, stores about two-thirds of the nation’s high-level radioactive waste.
Officials have said the leaking materials pose no immediate risk to public safety or the environment because it would likely take years for the chemicals to reach groundwater.