‘Catastrophic’ Leak Found in Nuclear Waste Tank at Washington State Storage Site
Catastrophic’ Leak Rapidly Intensifies
Meteorologist Ari Sarsalari updates you on a potentially catastrophic nuclear waste leak in Washington state.
An ongoing nuclear waste leak in Washington State has rapidly intensified over the past weekend, leaving workers scrambling to pump the waste out of the storage facility.
Back in 2011, a leak was found on the inner hull of one of the site’s 28 double-wall storage tanks. The previous leak posed an insignificant threat, but workers came across an even larger leak this weekend while attempting to clear the inner hull of its remaining waste.
Crews at the United States Department of Energy’s storage site in Hanford were alerted by leak detection alarms Sunday morning, and after lowering a camera into the affected area, the staff found 8.4 inches of radioactive and chemically toxic waste had poured between the inner and outer walls of the tank, according to KING 5.
Jim Geary, facility manager at the Waste Receiving and Processing facility (WARP), looks over a shipment of three TRUPACT transport containers on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. ((Jeff T. Green/Getty Images))
“This is catastrophic,” said former site employee Mike Geffre. “This is probably the biggest event to ever happen in tank farm history. The double shell tanks were supposed to be the saviors of all saviors.”
Geffre was the crew member who first came across the breach in 2011, but the leak was so slow that the liquid would dry up before there was enough to accumulate.
The large puncture is thought to have occurred while the three-week long pumping was taking place.
An estimated 20,000 gallons of waste remain in the 800,000-gallon AY-102 tank, Q13 FOX reports.
None of the waste has made its way out of the second tank and the detection pit sitting below the massive tank has remained dry, says Gizmodo. Crews have been advised to proceed with caution, sporting respiratory safety gear to protect them from gases given off by the waste.
“There is no indication of waste leaking into the environment or risk to the public at this time,” reassured the Department of Ecology.