Hanford Nuclear Reservation

Tobin Fricke / Flickr

The clock is ticking on the 40-day, 40-night compromise deadline between Washington state and the federal government for cleaning up Hanford’s leaking radioactive waste tanks.

But at Hanford’s annual update for the public in Richland this week, it was clear that any agreement between the state and the federal government is still a ways off.

AP Photo

Gov. Jay Inslee and state Attorney General Bob Ferguson complained Monday that the federal government will likely miss major deadlines for cleanup at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

They want the feds to stick to agreed upon deadlines and are demanding new tanks to replace the leaking old ones. But the feds say they, too, have a plan.

U.S. Department of Energy

The state of Washington has ordered the federal government to pump out a leaking double-shell tank of waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

The state says pumping must begin by Sept. 1.

AP Photo

Gov. Jay Inslee says the U.S. Department of Energy is failing to provide him a “comprehensive” Hanford cleanup plan.

The Democrats’ comments follow a face-to-face meeting Monday with the secretary of energy who made a special trip to meet with the governor.

U.S. Senate

In Washington, D.C. Tuesday, Hanford whistleblowers Donna Busche and Walt Tamosaitis weren’t allowed to speak before a Senate hearing.

The former nuclear site workers had been informally invited to testify before the Homeland Security subcommittee, but that invitation was later blocked by the ranking minority Republican on the committee.

When it comes to the many underground tanks at Hanford filled with radioactive sludge, just how much do we know? U.S. Senator Ron Wyden says not enough.

AP Photo

There are "significant construction flaws" in some newer, double-walled storage tanks at Washington state's Hanford nuclear waste complex, which could lead to additional leaks, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

Those tanks hold some of the worst radioactive waste at the nation's most contaminated nuclear site.

Anna King

A prominent whistleblower who raised safety concerns at the nation's most polluted nuclear weapons production site has been fired from her job at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

Safety manager Donna Busche says employer URS Corp. told her she was being fired for “unprofessional conduct,” then escorted her out of the building early Tuesday.

AP Photo

  

Over the last several years, Hanford Nuclear Reservation managers have mishandled barrels and boxes of hazardous and radioactive waste in the central part of the southeast Washington site.

The state of Washington last Friday slapped the U.S. Department of Energy with a $15,000 fine.

AP Photo

About 300 workers who were told they'd be laid off can now keep their jobs at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. 

Because Congress approved the 2014 federal budget for 2014 last week, layoffs announced last year can be avoided.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

A federal contractor at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation failed to check some single-shell radioactive waste tanks for the buildup of hydrogen gas. It was an eight-month lapse that could have been dangerous for workers and the public.

Federal contractor Washington River Protection Solutions says some of the radioactive waste tanks should have been checked as far back as last March, and weren’t. The overdue tanks were checked in late December, and no gas buildups were found.

AP Photo

A plan to turn part of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation into a national park has been dropped from a compromise defense authorization bill moving through the U.S. Congress.

The idea is to designate Hanford’s B Reactor as part of the Manhattan Project National Park, along with sites at Los Alamos, New Mexico and Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Associated Press

There is a new whistleblower at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington, but it doesn’t have to do with technical concerns.

It’s the latest twist in an ongoing timecard fraud case.

Associated Press

Three federal contractors at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation say they’ll lay off 450 workers over the next year. The companies say Thursday’s announcement is largely due to federal budget uncertainty.

The three companies work on Hanford’s tank farms cleaning up contaminated groundwater and providing support services at the nuclear site. Many of the 450 workers will be let go in the next few months, and the others will be laid off by next fall.

Associated Press

Managers and scientists are working against the clock to solve a new possible problem at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

How much sludge can be dumped into a double-shelled radioactive waste tank before flammable gas might build up in a big bubble?

At a group of waste tanks called the C-Farm, workers are pumping the radioactive sludge out these old single-shelled tanks into the more stable double-hulled ones This radioactive witch’s brew constantly generates hydrogen and other flammable gases.

Associated Press

The U.S. Department of Energy faces a $115,000 fine for the way a contractor handled asbestos at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington.

The alleged violations occurred during building demolitions in 2009 and 2010 when federal stimulus money sped up deconstruction projects.

Rajah Bose

In early November, a federal appeals court will consider the case of a well-known Hanford whistleblower. Walter Tamosaitis argues his career was essentially killed after he voiced safety concerns at the nuclear cleanup site.

Earlier this month, the high-level manager was laid off for good. It wasn’t retaliation according to the federal contractor that employed him. But U.S. senators and watchdog groups fear this turn will make other workers with safety concerns clam up.

Tamosaitis has had, as he puts it, a lot of stomach acid these past couple of weeks.

Associated Press

Workers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation could start receiving furlough notices on Wednesday because of the partial shutdown of the federal government.

The Tri-City Development Council estimates that about 9,000 Hanford and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory workers could eventually be put on temporary leave or laid off.

AP Photo

State officials say they’re disappointed but not surprised by news that the federal government will likely miss several more cleanup deadlines at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

At Hanford, radioactive sludge stews in aging underground tanks not far from the Columbia River. A 1989 agreement created the timeline for treating that caustic gunk. But the task has proven extremely difficult. A Waste Treatment Plant has been plagued by whistleblowers, critical federal investigations, cost overruns, and delays. 

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

A new proposal to phase-in portions of cleanup at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation is an intriguing idea, but it doesn’t solve immediate problems of leaking waste tanks, said Gov. Jay Inslee during a visit Thursday.

The Democrat was responding to a new plan this week from U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. 

Courtesy of the U.S. Department of Energy.

Fifty years ago today, President John F. Kennedy stepped off a Marine helicopter into the dry heat of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington.

He was there to see the massive new N Reactor. The reactor was the first to produce both plutonium and power in the U.S. The visit was also part of Kennedy’s efforts to de-escalate the Cold War.

Ted S. Warrena / Associated Press

There’s a new plan for cleanup at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. The federal government is looking for ways to process certain types of radioactive waste more quickly, while managers there figure out how to solve major technical challenges at its massive Waste Treatment Plant.

U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz released the new framework Tuesday after a year of study.

The tank farms at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington are cleared to resume work after a high-radiation incident briefly shut down much of the site last month.

The Hanford Nuclear Reservation has inspired documentaries, museum exhibits, art shows, and even a book of poetry.

Now, a Seattle band call Tangerine is about to release a new song that tackles the leaking tanks of radioactive waste at the federal site.

“I guess it’s a slightly unusual topic for a pop song, especially one that has a romantic angle,” said Marika Justad, who sings, plays the guitar and the piano for the alternative-pop band.

Crews at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation are investigating increased radiological readings at a tank farm there.

Part of the massive site was shut down following the reading Wednesday night.

U.S. Department of Energy

Washington’s state attorney is praising an appeals court decision on a nuclear waste repository in Nevada. The ruling requires the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to get the licensing process back on track for Yucca Mountain.

The state of Washington wants Yucca Mountain to be the permanent waste repository for radioactive waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. But President Barack Obama buried the project because of opposition from Nevada’s political leaders. Now, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has ruled that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has to continue forward with the licensing of the facility. 

Crews at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation say have cleaned up 15 million tons of radioactive soil and debris from near the Columbia River, managers announced on Tuesday.  

The debris has gone to a massive dump at the center of the site. The Environmental Restoration Disposal Facility, called ERDF for short, is the size of 52 football fields.

Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

The U.S. Department of Energy has agreed to pay $136,000 in fines allegedly mishandling certain lab waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. The penalty comes from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Energy contractors allegedly stored some radioactive waste without permits, and placed some of it in a landfill before treating it. We’re talking about contaminated science glove boxes, lab equipment and concrete. Environmental regulators studied records from the late 1980s through 2011 in this investigation.

Rachel La Corte / Associated Press

Gov. Jay Inslee says it will likely take a few days to confirm whether radioactive waste has leaked through the outer shell of a double-hulled underground tank at Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

Earlier Friday, the U.S. Department of Energy disclosed it detected heightened radioactivity levels beneath a tank that holds some of the nation's worst nuclear waste. Inslee said he spoke directly to the new secretary of energy to say how unhappy he is with agency's pace of stabilizing half a dozen different leaking tanks.

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