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The Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington is the most contaminated nuclear site in the US. First developed in the 1940’s as part of the Manhattan Project that saw the construction of the first atomic bomb, the site has cost the government billions in dollars in clean-up efforts over the years (approximately $2 billion a year at the moment), and now the nuclear safety board has warned that the waste tanks actually pose a risk of explosion.
Federal officials who monitor the site have said that for a while six of the tanks have been leaking their radioactive waste into the soil, and contaminating the ground water in the area. Then on top of that the nuclear safety board, which is focussing on nuclear contamination at sites around the country in the build-up to the confirmation of a new Energy Secretary, has warned that a dangerous buildup of hydrogen gas within the tanks creates a serious possibility of explosion. Work is being carried out to add monitoring systems and ventilation to the tanks, which will hopefully reduce the risk.
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The board stated that “all the double-shell tanks contain waste that continuously generates some flammable gas. This gas will eventually reach flammable conditions if adequate ventilation is not provided.”
Once the work on the tanks has been completed the next step is to encase them in a more permanent manner for long-term disposal. Only then can the rest of the plant be completed; yes after 60 years it is still in the construction phase, having cost over $12.3 billion it is still only half built.
By. Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com
Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com