YAKIMA, Wash. — Six underground tanks that hold a brew of radioactive and toxic waste at the nation’s most contaminated nuclear site are leaking, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced Friday.
The leaks raise new concerns about delays for emptying the tanks at south-central Washington’s Hanford nuclear reservation, and they strike another blow to federal efforts to clean up the site, where successes often are overshadowed by delays, budget overruns and technological challenges.
State officials just last week announced one of Hanford’s 177 underground tanks was leaking in the range of 150 to 300 gallons a year, posing a risk to groundwater and rivers. So far, nearby wells haven’t detected higher radioactivity levels.
The governor said the leaking material poses no immediate risk to public safety or the environment because it would take a while — perhaps years — to reach groundwater.