Hanford Advisory Board Hears Report on Tank Waste - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Hanford Advisory Board Hears Report on Tank Waste

RICHLAND, Wash.- An independent report on tank waste leaks criticizes the Department of Energy's handling of the tank farms.

The Department of Energy has an issue with some of the reports' findings though.

Two reports, commissioned by the Hanford watchdog group Heart of America Northwest and the Nez Perce Tribe, say that the Department of Energy is ignoring critical leaks in Hanford's waste storage tanks.

The two reports presented to the Hanford Advisory Board Tuesday said that tank leaks are far more extensive than previously thought.

"This is the thing that should be looked at in a characterization, is the stuff that has already reached groundwater. Why has it reached groundwater, how has it reached groundwater?" said John Brodeur, who wrote one of the reports.

The reports use contamination data gathered by the Department of Energy, but with a different conclusion, and DOE is defending it's stance.

"Certainly they've reached some different conclusions, and, since we're doing this for the Hanford advisory board, again, we're looking forward to the opportunity to come in and provide a full briefing on the status of our program, and have some discussions with the committee about where there are differences of opinions in our data," said Erik Olds with DOE's Office of River Protection.  

While the reports say there's more contamination than thought, they don't identify any clear numbers.

"The past tank leaks, the estimates, I don't think they have valid estimates," said Stan Sobczyk, author of the second report. 

And with no clear numbers, the Department of Ecology is slow to jump to conclusions.

"Leak volumes should always be presented with uncertainty ranges connected with them, and, documentation of the means used to estimate those volumes," said Cheryl Whalen, an Ecology spokesperson.

Whatever the eventual result, all parties agreed that more needs to be known before new action is taken.

The Department of Energy said they are still reviewing the report, and notes that there is no new data, just a new interpretation of previous findings.