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Oldest Hanford Double-Shell Tank Has 7 Leaks, Not 1 As Thought

Inside tank AY-102 (DOE-KNDU-TV)
Inside tank AY-102 (DOE-KNDU-TV)

According to information released by Hanford and by way of the Associated Press and KOMO-TV in Seattle, the oldest double-shell tank at Hanford actually has 7 leaks, not 1.

Since 2012, when a leak was discovered in Tank AY-102, officials have been monitoring it closely. The leak was between the inner wall into what’s called the Annulus, or space between the two walls of the double-shell tank.

There are 28 of these double-shell tanks, which began to be built in the late 1960’s to replace the older single-shell tanks holding all kinds of hazardous waste, and some which were leaking.

AY-102 actually has five other leaks beside the two that were initially found. According to KOMO, some leaky welds were discovered. Then they noticed pits or dents in the floor of the inner wall, five in total. Some liquids were pumped into the area, and it was seen on video camera the test liquids drained out. AY102, which once held over 744,000 gallons of waste, had been pumped down to about 19,000 which compared to the size of these mammoth tanks, is barely enough to cover the entire floor of the vessel.

Officials are now trying to determine if AY-102 can be repaired and put back into use. According to a report several years ago published in Forbes Magazine, AY-102 contains the following wastes, among many compounds:

  • Uranium 235 and 238
  • Plutonium 238, 239, 240 and 241
  • Strontium 90
  • Cesium 137
  • Thorium

These are all considered hazardous health risks if exposed to in various levels.

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