Serious questions raised about how Hanford site stores radioactive nuclear waste via Straight

A Stanford University nuclear-security researcher wonders why officials left radioactive waste in a tunnel at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

Rod Ewing also told the Spokane Spokesman-Review it was “surprising” that mounds of dirt and pressure-treated timber were used to address the problem.

“How can waste be left in a tunnel? Whose idea was that?” Ewing said in an interview with the newspaper. “I’ve been to Hanford many, many times for conferences and things like that, and I don’t recall anyone saying that there was waste in tunnels underground. I can’t imagine why that would be the case.”


On a site the size of the City of Seattle, it has 56 million gallons of untreated nuclear waste left over from the U.S. nuclear-weapons program.

The video below explains the scope of the problem and why it should be of concern.

“The current unfolding crisis at Hanford, the bursting barrel at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant  (WIPP) in New Mexico in 2014, and the exploding radioactive waste dump in Beatty, Nevada in 2015, show that radioactive waste management is out of control,” Kevin Kamps, radioactive waste watchdog at Beyond Nuclear, said in a news release earlier this week.


“It houses 177 storage tanks containing liquid radioactive sludges, some of which have been leaking radioactive effluent that could eventually threaten the Columbia River,” the group states on its website. “Cleanup at the site did not begin until 1989.”

According to Beyond Nuclear, the Hanford tunnel collapse may have been caused by vibrations from nearby road works.

The Centre for Public Integrity pointed out on its website that a 2015 report noted that this tunnel “had been seriously weakened and that a ‘partial or complete failure’ could expose individuals even 380 feet away to dancerous levels of radiation”.

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