• 3 minutes Could Venezuela become a net oil importer?
  • 7 minutes Reuters: OPEC Ministers Agree In Principle On 1 Million Barrels Per Day Nominal Output Increase
  • 12 minutes Battle for Oil Port: East Libya Forces In Full Control At Ras Lanuf
  • 6 hours Could Venezuela become a net oil importer?
  • 9 mins Reuters: OPEC Ministers Agree In Principle On 1 Million Barrels Per Day Nominal Output Increase
  • 9 hours Tesla Closing a Dozen Solar Facilities in Nine States
  • 15 hours Saudi Arabia plans to physically cut off Qatar by moat, nuclear waste and military base
  • 9 hours Why is permian oil "locked in" when refineries abound?
  • 6 hours Gazprom Exports to EU Hit Record
  • 19 mins Oil prices going down
  • 5 hours Oil Buyers Club
  • 5 hours Could oil demand collapse rapidly? Yup, sure could.
  • 7 hours EU Leaders Set To Prolong Russia Sanctions Again
  • 4 hours Saudi Arabia turns to solar
  • 1 day Teapots Cut U.S. Oil Shipments
  • 9 hours EVs Could Help Coal Demand
  • 23 hours Battle for Oil Port: East Libya Forces In Full Control At Ras Lanuf
  • 1 day Hot line, Macron: Phone Calls With Trump Are Like Sausages Best Not To Know What Is Inside
  • 15 hours China’s Plastic Waste Ban Will Leave 111 Million Tons of Trash With Nowhere To Go
Alt Text

Australia Looks To Tackle Its Looming Gas Shortage

The world’s soon-to-be top liquefied…

Alt Text

Russia Pushes Ahead With Controversial Nord Stream 2

Russia’s controversial Nord Stream 2…

John Daly

John Daly

Dr. John C.K. Daly is the chief analyst for Oilprice.com, Dr. Daly received his Ph.D. in 1986 from the School of Slavonic and East European…

More Info

Trending Discussions

One of America's First Nuclear Plants Leaking Radioactive Waste

One of America's First Nuclear Plants Leaking Radioactive Waste

Hanford, Washington, was, along with Oak Ridge, Tennessee, one of the two Manhattan Project nuclear plants that provided fissile material for the bombs dropped on Japan that ended World War Two.

The past is coming back to haunt the site, as last week Washington governor Jay Inslee characterized news about a major leak of highly toxic sludge from a single-wall storage tank at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation as a “perfect radioactive storm.”

The Hanford Nuclear Reservation currently houses 149 single-wall nuclear waste storage tanks, along with 28 newer tanks with double walls. They contain residue from decades of refining plutonium for nuclear weapons, roughly 56 million gallons of highly radioactive waste in aged and corroded underground storage tanks. Since World War II, Hanford Nuclear Reservation facilities have leached roughly one million gallons of radioactive waste has leached into the surrounding soil and groundwater beside the Columbia River, with specialists estimating that the newly discovered leak may be adding an additional 150-300 gallons a year, though no one knows when it began. In 1989 the Department of Energy assumed responsibility for safely disposing of this waste, which threatens to leak into the bordering Columbia River and affect downstream industry, habitat and human health.

Related article: Who will Pay for Nuclear Power Plant Cleanup?

The news could not come at a worse time, as Washington mandatory budget cuts could impact any response.

Inslee said, “I am alarmed about this on many levels. This raises concerns, not only about the existing leak... but also concerning the integrity of the other single-shell tanks of this age.”

So, how much to tidy the site? According to a new Department of Energy report, cleaning up the Hanford Nuclear Reservation will now set back taxpayers a cool $114.8 billion, an increase from the 2012 estimate of $112 billion.

But wait, there’s more, as the TV pitchmen say.

The DOE "2013 Hanford Lifecycle Scope, Schedule and Cost" report includes annual budgets of more than $3 billion for the site annually up to 2020, but in fact the 586-square-mile Hanford Nuclear Reservation typically receives a little more than $2 billion annually for environmental cleanup, a funding level that the DOE expects to continue for the foreseeable future.

Final decisions for some Hanford Nuclear Reservation projects have yet to be made, for which the lifecycle report is required to make a plausible, upper-range estimate.

So, when does the DOE estimate that the Hanford Nuclear Reservation cleanup will end? At least 2060 and possibly 2070, more than a century after the facility first began contributing to national defense.

Final cost? As The DOE "2013 Hanford Lifecycle Scope, Schedule and Cost" report modestly notes, “These estimates account for cost uncertainty because many of the final cleanup decisions have not been made. Once these decisions are made, estimates will be reflected in future Lifecycle Reports.”

The end result of all this, stripped of its dry bureaucratese is that decommissioning the Hanford Nuclear Reservation will take decades, during which time the price tag will only increase.

So, has the Hanford Nuclear Reservation been well managed during the past seven decades?

Not according to the Government Accountability Office, which notes, “By just about any definition, Hanford has not been a well-planned, well-managed or well-executed major capital construction project.” The GAO recommends a halt to construction on the core facility until the design meets nuclear industry guidelines, a new incentive structure to avoid premature reward payments, and an investigation into potentially erroneous payments.

In the meantime, taxpayers can assume only that the bills will rise.

By. John C.K. Daly of Oilprice.com




Back to homepage

Trending Discussions


Leave a comment
  • David B. Benson on February 25 2013 said:
    For those of us who live uphill and downwind of Hanford this is not news. I suppose the new governor is attempting to see to it that Hanford continues to receive its annual US$2 billion per annum.
  • SA Kiteman on February 25 2013 said:
    Is this type of reporting intentional? The headline blares that a "nuclear plant" (which 90+% of the public will confuse with a nuclear POWER plant) is leaking. Please, be more honest. It is a nuclear WEAPONS facility, not a NPP.

Leave a comment




Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News