Richland nuclear plant OK’d to ship radioactive waste via Tri-City Herald

Energy Northwest has had its privileges to ship radioactive waste to a commercial disposal site on the Hanford nuclear reservation reinstated.

Twice over the past 12 months, it sent waste from the nuclear power plant near Richland to US Ecology with manifests that didn’t match the shipments.

Most recently, the wrong manifest accompanied a July 20 shipment.

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However, the NRC issued a “white” violation finding against the plant for a more serious shipping incident in November 2016 that involved improperly packaged waste. A “white” designation in the NRC’s color-coded system indicates low to moderate safety significance.

A 7-foot-tall, 45,000-pound cask of waste was trucked to the US Ecology site. It was approved for transporting waste with about half of the radioactivity the cask actually contained.

US Ecology surveyed the cask for radiation and rejected it after determining radiation was seven times greater than the shipping manifest for the package declared, according to Energy Northwest.

Improvements made then included additional training and new procedures on how material is handled and inventoried. Two departments involved in the shipment were combined under one manager.

In addition, a supervisor from an Arizona nuclear plant was brought in to assess Columbia Generating Station’s shipping program.

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