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Washington State Orders Hanford Managers To Empty Leaking Tank

View inside the space between the two walls of Tank AY-102 at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.
U.S. Department of Energy
View inside the space between the two walls of Tank AY-102 at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

The state of Washington has ordered the federal government to start pumping out a leaking double-shell tank of waste at Hanford by September 1.

This move comes after months of polite talks and planning. But now, the Washington State Department of Ecology says it’s fed up with waiting.

The federal government was going to start pumping out the leaking tank called AY-102 about 18 months from now. The state declared that to be unacceptable and is pushing the fall deadline.

Tank AY-102 is one of 28 double-shell tanks at Hanford. They contain hundreds of thousands of gallons of highly-radioactive liquid and sludge.

Right now, federal officials say the tank is only leaking in between its double hull walls. But the concern is it could leak out into the environment.

The old tanks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation hold the leftovers from plutonium production during WWII and the Cold War.

Copyright 2014 Northwest News Network

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.