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Washington State lawsuit hits Feds after Hanford tunnel collapse

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Washington state is taking legal action against the “other Washington” after a tunnel full of mixed radioactive and chemical waste collapsed on May 9 at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

“This alarming emergency compels us to take immediate action – to hold the federal government accountable to its obligation to clean up the largest nuclear waste site in the country,” said Washington Department of Ecology Director Maia Bellon.

Ecology is requiring the federal Department of Energy, through an enforcement order, to immediately assess the integrity of the tunnels and take swift corrective action.

“Our top priority is to ensure the safety of Hanford workers and the community. The collapse of this tunnel raises serious questions about how it happened and what can be done to make sure it doesn’t happen again. This enforcement order is necessary to make sure we get greater assurance about the condition of these tunnels and the Department of Energy’s plan to contain any further risks,” said Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.

“The infrastructure built to temporarily store radioactive waste is now more than a half-century old. The tunnel collapse is direct evidence that it’s failing. It’s the latest in a series of alarms that the safety and health of Hanford workers and our citizens are at risk,” said Bellon.

The enforcement order requires the U.S. Department of Energy to determine the cause of the tunnel collapse; assess the risk of further collapses; ensure the radioactive and chemical waste in the tunnels is stored safely; and submit a plan for permanently cleaning up waste in the tunnels.

Image: B Reactor Process Tube Nozzles by Shane Lin via Flickr CC

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Written by William DiBenedetto

15 May, 2017 at 7:26 am

Save big bucks: close Hanford Nuclear Plant

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CGS_NRCGovRatepayers in Washington State could save $1.7 billion over 17 years if the Columbia Generating Station (CGS) nuclear power plant at Hanford is closed.

A recent 212-page economic analysis from McCullough Research of Portland, OR notes that the CGS on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation is the only nuclear facility that was actually completed out of the five plants begun there during the long and tangled history of Hanford. In addition, it contains a General Electric boiling water reactor that’s similar to those that were destroyed during the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

17 January, 2014 at 4:00 am

No Doublespeak in Nukespeak

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In The Stand, one of Stephen King’s early (and imo best) novels a nuclear power plant becomes a central part of the action, and indeed is instrumental in keeping the world from descending into barbarism.

It sort of makes the point that, as The Police say, “When the world is running down/You make the best of what’s still around.” There is something to be said for the role of nuclear power as part of the modern-day, post-carbon-based fuel energy mix.

But a revised and updated version of the Sierra’s Club‘s classic Nukespeak throws some needed clear thinking about the inherent dangers of nuclear energy and concludes, as the first edition did, that it’s not really worth the risk.

Nearly 30 years ago, in the wake of the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, the first edition of Nukespeak from Sierra Club Books was published and immediately framed public debate on the immense risks of nuclear technology.

The extensively revised and updated edition promises to continue that debate, especially in the aftermath of the March earthquake and tsunami that struck the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan.

According to the Club, the original 1982 edition broke through the “linguistic filter of the nuclear mindset,” by documenting how nuclear developers confused their hopes—remember the dream of energy too cheap to meter?—with reality, covered up damaging information, harassed and dismissed scientists who disagreed with official policy, and generated false or misleading statistics to bolster their assertions about the benefits and safety of nuclear power. Read the rest of this entry »

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