Engineers Scheduled to Inspect Potential Hanford Nuclear Site Leak

inspection_hartford_nuclear_siteA potential leak is under investigation at Washington State’s Hanford nuclear site after an contamination reading was discovered.

The investigation, announced by Washington Governor, Jay Inslee, followed information confirming an elevated contamination reading in the leak detection pit, according to CNN. Governor Inslee said the elevated reading does not pose an immediate public health threat, but did say in a just-released statement that, “This is most disturbing news for Washington…. The discovery was made during a routine pumping outside the tank when pumps are also surveyed for radioactivity.”

The leak detection pit is located outside and adjacent to a double-shell tank known as the AY-102, according to CNN, citing the governor. “It is not clear yet whether that contamination is coming directly from the outer shell of the AY-102 but it must be treated with the utmost seriousness,” Inslee said.

The U.S. Department of Energy has assigned engineers to review the contamination source by conducting both sampling and video inspection. The process could, according to the governor, take several days, CNN reported. The site once produced plutonium for atomic weapons and also borders Washington’s Columbia River.

“Given the relatively early detection of this potential leak, the river is not at immediate risk of contamination should it be determined that a leak has occurred outside the tank,” Inslee said, according to CNN. Secretary of Energy, Ernest Moniz, visited the site for the first time last week.

Before learning of a possible leak, Inslee told Moniz he has “serious concerns regarding the pace of addressing the leaking tanks,” adding that, “We will be insisting on an acceleration of remediation of all the tanks, not just AY-102. USDOE has a legal obligation to clean up Hanford and remove or treat that waste, and we ensure that legal obligation is fulfilled,” the governor said, wrote CNN.

Lat last year, we wrote that New York’s Indian Point nuclear plant was deemed unsecure, according to a then-new lawsuit. The controversial plant is located in Westchester, New York.

A security lieutenant at the power complex filed the lawsuit that included allegations that Indian Point is unsecure; that staffers routinely watch DVDs, play video games, and sleep at work; and that the facility generally fails anti-terrorism drills, said The Associated Press (AP). Clifton Travis Jr.—who still worked at the plant at the time of the report, says his job has been marginalized over his stand about security there—filed the $1.5 billion lawsuit in state Supreme Court. The lawsuit names Entergy, the plant owner, and three managers as defendants. Indian Point is located 50 miles north of New York City, noted the AP.

We also previously wrote that the Indian Point nuclear plant was deemed the most dangerous in the United States, potentially putting drinking water supplies at risk. In fact, a disaster at Indian Point could put drinking water supplies to over 11 million people at risk, according to a report released by the advocacy group, Environment New York. Even a minor problem could leak radioactive contaminants, impacting 11.3 million people, twice as many as any other nuclear facilities in the country.

“The danger of nuclear power is too close to home. Here in New York State, the drinking water for nearly 10 million people is too close to an active nuclear power plant,” said Eric Whalen (Field Organizer with Environment New York, the group that conducted the study) at the time. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has said Indian Point Energy Center, located along the Hudson River, poses the greatest risk. With core damage possible from an earthquake estimated at 1 in 10,000 yearly, the NRC puts the risk on the verge of requiring “immediate concern regarding adequate protection” of the public.

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