New Plans Announced for Dealing With Hanford Leaks, PUREX Tunnels
This week Department of Energy officials and others at Hanford announced some new plans for how they will deal with reported leaks in waste tanks, PUREX tunnels, and the waste as well.
In 2012 officials released video evidence that tank AY-102, one of the double-shelled waste storage tanks at Hanford, had leaked some small amounts of hazardous waste into what's called the 'annulus', or space between the two walls. Officials also have been dealing with the recent collapse of the highly toxic railroad tunnel at the defunct PUREX plant.
Now, according to KEPR-TV, officials from the Office of River Protection said this week a number of new cameras will be installed inside AY-102, with the hopes of detecting where the waste was coming from. It is also hoped the video and images will shed light on why the leak occurred. According to officials, these tanks were never supposed to leak.
But critics say the tanks have, in many cases, far outlived their expected lifespan-especially the single-walled tanks. Waste is being transferred from these to the double shell models. There are some 167 such storage tanks at Hanford.
Officials also said they are on schedule for an August 1 deadline to present a definite plan for shoring up and securing the two railroad tunnels at the PUREX plant. The tunnels contain highly radioactive and toxic waste that was stored there, some in railroad cars, in the 1990's after the nuclear fuel processing plant closed. They have been buried, but one of the tunnels suffered a substantial partial collapse. It's feared future incidents would expose the toxic materials to the atmosphere, releasing radiation and other elements.
The tunnels have been deemed too dangerous to cleanup in the near future, posting a hazard to works and equipment.