6 Nuke Waste Tanks Leaking in Wash. State

Gov. Jay Inslee: 'I am alarmed about this'

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 23, 2013 1:53 PM CST

(Newser) – Scary news in Washington state: Radioactive waste is leaking from at least six tanks at a nuclear site 185 miles southeast of Seattle, AFP reports. Gov. Jay Inslee met with US Energy Secretary Steven Chu about it in Washington, DC, when the Department of Energy announced the leaks on Friday. "I am alarmed about this on many levels," said Inslee, reports RT.com. "This raises concerns, not only about the existing leak … but also concerning the integrity of the other single shell tanks of this age."

But Inslee said "there is no immediate or near-term health risk" from the Hanford site. Scientists produced plutonium there for the Nagasaki bomb during World War II, and increased output during the Cold War arms race. In 1987 it was shut it down, leaving 177 tanks containing millions of gallons of nuclear waste. Now the feds are trying to transfer waste to safer tanks and build a $12 billion plant that turns nuclear waste into glass logs. But Inslee's rep struck an ominous chord, saying that "we're not clear yet on exactly what has been leaking for how long."

Gov. Jay Inslee talks to the media on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013, in Olympia, Wash.
Gov. Jay Inslee talks to the media on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013, in Olympia, Wash.   (AP Photo/Rachel La Corte)
In this July 14, 2010 photo, workers at the Hanford nuclear reservation work around a tank farm where highly radioactive waste is stored underground near Richland, Wash.
In this July 14, 2010 photo, workers at the Hanford nuclear reservation work around a tank farm where highly radioactive waste is stored underground near Richland, Wash.   (AP Photo/Shannon Dininny, File)
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