The U.S. Department of Energy announced Friday that a tank holding radioactive waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation is leaking liquids at the rate of 150 to 300 gallons per year.
The single-shell tank holds about 447,000 gallons of sludge and is one of 149 single-shell tanks at the Hanford site near Richland.
“I am alarmed and deeply concerned by this news,” Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement released early Friday afternoon. “This was a problem we thought was under control, years ago, when liquids were pumped from the tanks and the sludge was stabilized.”
Inslee said there is no immediate public health risk. He said the leak may not hit groundwater for many years, and there is a groundwater-treatment system in place.
The Energy Department, in its statement, said the tank was classified as an assumed leaker in 1979, and in 1995 went through an “interim stabilization” that removed liquids that could be pumped.
Inslee said this is the first tank confirmed to be leaking radioactive wastes since an effort to stabilize the tanks was completed in 2005.