Hanford Leak Probably Caused by Unexpected Pressure in Hose - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Hanford Leak Probably Caused by Unexpected Pressure in Hose

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RICHLAND, Wash.- Department of Energy workers are still trying to figure out what caused a hose to leak a large amount of highly-radioactive waste Friday.

The only thing that points to that leak right now is that workers were running the pump in reverse at the time and think that may have inadvertently pressurized the hose, and caused the leak.

It's the black hose you see coming out of the system that's thought to have leaked about 50 to 100 gallons of waste.

The leak was contained to an area about 15 feet in diameter and they've sprayed it with a fixative to keep it from spreading and reduce the airborne danger.

That area has been fenced off and DOE has opened the rest of the farm for normal operations.

"No airborne or elevated levels of contamination or chemical vapors have been detected outside that area," said Delmar Noyse, DOE's Assistant Manager of Tank Farms. 

Noyse says radiation in the immediate area of the leak was equivalent to getting about one-thousand x-rays in one hour; that is if you spent an hour in the contaminated area.

Because of the troubles, DOE has stopped work on the only other tank they were doing a retrieval on right now.

That system has a similar pump so they want to figure out what happened in this instance to prevent the same thing from happening again on that project.