UPDATED INFORMATION: New Leak Discovered At Hanford; Governor Inslee Releases Statement
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - Gov. Jay Inslee says the state is willing to resort to the legal system to push ahead with cleanup at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation after learning that a tank that holds radioactive liquids is leaking at the nation's most contaminated nuclear site.
The Democrat said Friday that the state has a good partner in Energy Secretary Steven Chu but that he's concerned about whether Congress is committed to the cleanup.
Inslee says the leak raises concerns about the integrity of other storage facilities at the highly contaminated site.
The tanks hold millions of gallons of a highly radioactive stew left from decades of plutonium production for nuclear weapons.
Inslee said the tank is the first to have been documented to be losing liquids since all Hanford tanks were stabilized in 2005. His staff said the federal government is working to assess other tanks. PREVIOUS STORY:
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - A leaking waste tank at the nation's most contaminated nuclear site is raising new concerns about delays in cleaning up the Washington state site.
The U.S. Department of Energy says liquid levels are decreasing in one of 177 underground tanks at the Hanford nuclear reservation, though it's not clear by how much.
The tanks hold millions of gallons of a highly radioactive stew left from decades of plutonium production for nuclear weapons. The agency says monitoring wells near the tank have not detected higher radiation levels.
Gov. Jay Inslee said Energy Secretary Steven Chu say the federal government must not waiver in its commitment to clean up the highly contaminated site.
A plant under construction to treat the waste is billions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule.
Governor Inslee's full statement on news of Hanford leak:
The U.S. Department of Energy has determined that one of the single-shell tanks storing radioactive waste at Hanford is leaking liquids in the range of 150 to 300 gallons per year. The leaking tank was built in the 1940's and was stabilized in February 1995, when all pumpable liquids were removed by agreement with the State. The tank currently contains approximately 447,000 gallons of sludge, a mixture of solids and liquids with a mud-like consistency. This is the first tank which has been documented to be losing liquids since interim stabilization was completed in 2005. There are a total of 177 tanks at the Hanford site, 149 of which are single shell tanks.
Secretary Chu called me this morning with the news of a newly leaking single shell tank at Hanford.
I am alarmed and deeply concerned by this news. This was a problem we thought was under control, years ago, when the liquids were pumped from the tanks and the sludge was stabilized. We can't just leave 149 single-shell tanks with high-level radioactive liquid and sludge siting in the ground, for decades after their design life.
Let me be clear: Washington State has a zero tolerance policy on radioactive leakage. We will not tolerate any leaks of this material to the environment.
Fortunately, there is no immediate public health risk. The newly discovered leak may not hit the groundwater for many years, and we have a groundwater treatment system in place that provides a last defense for the river. However, the fact that this tank is one of the farthest from the river is not an excuse for delay. It is a call to act now.
I am appreciative of Secretary Chu's personal attention to this matter, and know he will deploy all technically-possible solutions to address the leaking tank. I will meet with the Secretary next week in DC, to hear about the Department's progress on stopping the leak and preventing any further tank leaks at Hanford.
This news is a sharp reminder, a wakeup call, that we can't be complacent, or waiver in any way, on our nation's commitment to clean up Hanford. I know this is a time of tight budgets, but with an active leak of high-level radioactive material into the environment, money can't be an excuse for inaction.
Congress and the federal government must provide the funding needed to address the leaking tank, to verify the condition of the remaining tanks, to build additional interim storage or take other necessary steps to prevent further releases, and to get the long-term solution, the waste treatment plant, completed without further delays.
It is their moral and legal obligation to the citizens of the Northwest and I will do everything in my power to make sure they live up to that.
Wednesday, December 11 2013 1:05 AM EST2013-12-11 06:05:12 GMT
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) - Friends of a Montana woman on trial for the death of her new husband say she showed little emotion when she located his body in Glacier National Park.More >>
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) - Friends of a Montana woman on trial for the death of her new husband say she showed little emotion when she located his body in Glacier National Park days after his July 7 disappearance.More >>
Tuesday, December 10 2013 10:30 PM EST2013-12-11 03:30:19 GMT
A man who has already endured more than most is facing a new challenge.More >>
A man who has already endured more than most is facing a new challenge. Over the weekend, James VanCuren's snow tires were stolen from outside his garage before being installed on his truck. "I'm not taking the pass this time of year with bald tires," said VanCuren.More >>
You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch. That's how several people who live in Otis Orchards feel after vandals damaged or destroyed thousands of dollars of Christmas decorations. "When I came out with my daughter I saw the [inflatables] laying down and I came out and checked 'em," Ron Cafaro told KHQ's Kelsey Watts.More >>
Tuesday, December 10 2013 9:39 PM EST2013-12-11 02:39:26 GMT
Monday night, the Spokane city council voted 6-0 to bring back the boot for habitual parking offenders. More >>
Monday night, the Spokane city council voted 6-0 to bring back the boot for habitual parking offenders. The city has not used the boot since the 1980's. The city says in the past ten years there have been more than 4 million dollars in unpaid parking tickets equaling around 90,000 unpaid tickets. The city says it aims to crack down on habitual offenders in the future.More >>
Tuesday, December 10 2013 9:29 PM EST2013-12-11 02:29:21 GMT
KENNEWICK, Wash. (AP) - Police in Kennewick, Wash., say a missing 14-year-old girl has talked with her mother and says she is in Mexico and is OK.More >>
KENNEWICK, Wash. (AP) - Police in Kennewick, Wash., say a missing 14-year-old girl has talked with her mother and says she is in Mexico and is OK. KNDO says police confirmed Tuesday that the mother of Elizabeth Romero spoke with her daughter by phone and the girl said she is in Jalisco, Mexico.More >>
Tuesday, December 10 2013 9:17 PM EST2013-12-11 02:17:34 GMT
In the winter season the risk of car prowling and vehicle thefts continues.More >>
In the winter season the risk of car prowling and vehicle thefts continues. Spokane Police Crime Analysts say if you become a victim of a car prowling you are looking at $300-500 to fix a window and if the thief steals a credit card they estimate that you could take a loss of $500-1000 per card.More >>
Tuesday, December 10 2013 8:58 PM EST2013-12-11 01:58:19 GMT
Prosecutors in Bonner County tell KHQ that a jury found Brianna Knapp guilty Tuesday of Fleeing the Scene of a Fatal Crash.More >>
Prosecutors in Bonner County tell KHQ that a jury found Brianna Knapp guilty Tuesday of Fleeing the Scene of a Fatal Crash. Knapp was driving a car that struck off-duty Spokane Police Officer Kurt Henson's motorcycle in Bonner County back in 2012. Henson died in the crash and his passenger was seriously injured.More >>
Tuesday, December 10 2013 7:30 PM EST2013-12-11 00:30:21 GMT
Production got underway at Zome Design in Spokane Valley for the official Washington State Cougar New Mexico Bowl shirt.More >>
Production got underway at Zome Design in Spokane Valley for the official Washington State Cougar New Mexico Bowl shirt. It's a very particular process to get the shirts complete as the school colors have to be exactly right. Once the production got underway they are able to produce 300 to 500 shirts per hour.More >>
Tuesday, December 10 2013 7:22 PM EST2013-12-11 00:22:43 GMT
The Principal of Priest River Elementary says that school will be in session on Wednesday. The school was closed Monday and Tuesday after the boiler failed.More >>
The Principal of Priest River Elementary says that school will be in session on Wednesday. The school was closed Monday and Tuesday after the boiler failed. The principal says they have electric heat in the main building and Kindergarten through 4th grade will have normal classes.More >>
Tuesday, December 10 2013 5:00 PM EST2013-12-10 22:00:52 GMT
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - Marijuana business license applications keep rolling in Washington.More >>
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - Marijuana business license applications keep rolling in Washington.The state Liquor Control Board says it has received 1,696 applications from people seeking permission to grow, process or sell cannabis under the new recreational marijuana law. The application window opened Nov. 18, with a deadline of 5 p.m. on Dec. 20.More >>