Hanford workers pump leaked waste back into tank - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Hanford workers pump leaked waste back into tank

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RICHLAND, Wash. (AP) - Workers have succeeded in their first attempt to remove leaked waste from between the shells of the oldest double-shell tank at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.
    
More than 3,000 gallons of radioactive waste leaked April 17 from the inner tank of a giant double-walled tank known as AY-102 into the space between the two walls.
    
Workers on Thursday pumped some radioactive waste that had leaked back into the primary tank.
    
Inspections have found no evidence that any waste has breached the shell's outer tank. The Washington State Department of Ecology has said there is no risk at this time to the public.
    
Hanford for decades made plutonium for nuclear weapons, and now contains millions of gallons of radioactive waste stored in 177 underground tanks in southeastern Washington. The government is spending $2 billion a year to clean up the site.

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RICHLAND, WA—The U.S. Department of Energy said they have resumed waste retrieval at Hanford’s double-shell tank AY-102.

Waste retrieval from the tank was paused earlier this week after changes were detected in the level of waste in the annulus (the space between the inner and outer shells) of the tank.

Monitoring and inspections show no visual or chemical indications that waste from the tank has leaked into the environment.

Workers began pumping waste from the annulus space of tank AY-102 back into the primary tank using the annulus pumps, which were pre-installed for just such a contingency Thursday.  Workers also resumed operations to remove waste from the primary tank to another double-shell tank.

DOE anticipated that changes in the level of waste in the annulus could occur, as tank sludge waste was removed or shifted, potentially opening up a less obstructed leak path into the annulus.

Hanford Tank leaks more radioactive waste, no ground contamination reported

“We were prepared for this event,” said Glyn Trenchard, DOE’s Deputy Assistant Manager for the Tank Farms. “Our workforce should be commended for their teamwork and perseverance in safely implementing the Contingency Plan and procedures, and resuming operations to remove waste from the tank.”

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