Letter - Clean up Hanford’s nuclear waste, toxins


Hanford is the most contaminated nuclear site in the Western Hemisphere. It has released more radiation into the air, soil and water than escaped at Chernobyl, according to Heart of America Northwest.

As much as 450 billion gallons of contaminated waste have been dumped into the soil at Hanford. Over a third of the 177 underground storage tanks have leaked radioactive and chemically toxic solutions into the ground. Waste liquids contaminate the groundwater and thence to the Columbia River, threatening the entire area drained by the Columbia.

The threat of possible explosions looms. Radioactive contamination lasts thousands of years.

As reported by KNDU News, the leaking of radioactive and toxic fumes over the last several months has sickened at least 26 cleanup workers who suffered from intense headaches, sore throats and coughing. Washington River Protection Solutions, subcontractor of the U.S. Department of Energy, initially denied any fume leakage and sent those affected back to work. But when workers went to private doctors, their complaints were verified. They have demanded that sensors to detect toxic fumes be placed in the tank area, but WRPS has refused. The DOE has declined to intervene, assigning all responsibility to WRPS.

The latest federal budget has slashed funding for Hanford cleanup! Ask Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers to demand full funding.

Washington state and the federal government have been in legal battles since the 1980s about Hanford cleanup. The federal government has not fulfilled its 1989 agreement to clean up wastes within 30 years. Washington state sued in 2010, resulting in a consent decree that set deadlines for full cleanup by 2047, including pumping out all tanks, many of which are single shelled and leaking. Now the DOE is dragging its feet about meeting the 2010 agreement.

Gov. Jay Inslee and state Attorney General Bob Ferguson demand that DOE begin pumping out the liquid leaked between the walls of double-shelled tank AY-102 by September. The DOE states it will not begin for another two years! If the DOE will not sign a cleanup agreement with specificity and enforceability, Washington state will sue.

The state Department of Ecology, DOE and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency held a public meeting last month about the “State of the Hanford Site” in Richland.

Send a comment to the DOE. You don’t have to be an expert to state that nuclear and toxic wastes at Hanford threaten our safety and DOE must clean them up.

Beth Call

Walla Walla


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