What is the status of development for making nuclear waste safer to handle? I heard about "expensive glass log" processing years ago but I haven't heard anything since. Did the Bush administration and Congress cut Hanford clean-up funding?
If Congress is considering bailing out auto makers with $25 billion or more, isn't there $5 or $10 billion to finish cleaning up Hanford? What are the correct priorities?
Come to think of it, why isn't there a list of priority projects, their costs, and their estimated time-to-completion on a government web site?
I praise Gregoire and McKenna for again taking action to attempt to motivate the federal government to do its job. A lawsuit might motivate Obama's administration to set Hanford cleanup at the highest priority. Squeaky chew-toy politicians might get some needed grease. This suit will hopefully be settled out of court quickly, and the clean up will continue.
I would like nuclear energy and weapons banned from this planet. I say this from the perspective of one who briefly studied nuclear engineering in college and who has operated a small nuclear research reactor.
Nuclear energy is a neat way to boil water but its risks far outweigh its short-term benefits. There are no long-term benefits. Nuclear plants sit as targets for extremists and militarists. It's really neat when nuclear plants are built over geologic faults which make them susceptible to being damaged by earthquakes. Aren't we expecting a "big one" earthquake in the future?
Over time the probability of nuclear accidents increase. Human error is a factor that can never be fully eliminated. Once a nuclear accident spreads beyond the confines of a facility the damage is near impossible to repair. Chernobyl comes to mind.
There should not be a class of people called "down winders" living near Hanford. Human-made radioactivity should not be present in the Columbia River. Our government is failing in its obligation to protect people.
As long as nuclear weapons exist the probability that they will be used again increases. We simply must find a safer way to provide ourselves energy and we must change our way of being to eliminate war. Humans will not survive if they do not address these issues immediately.
Having lived and windsurfed in Hood River the health of the Columbia River and all that it affects will remain active in my conscience.
Unfortunately Hanford can not be held responsible for all the pollutants in a River that drains an area the size of France, as the Columbia River does.
Their are specific Hanford Issues: Cesium, Strontium (on going) and Iridium (minor issue): Iodine - in the past years a big issue and possible harm -Thyroid Cancer. Chemical pollution (on going) -Sodium Hydroxide.
Innocent of Hanford: Mercury ( natural and from farm practices fungiside treatment on wheat and other farm crops) Also used for Gold refining (canada) and their is lead and silver refining (super fund) (Kellogg Idaho) chemicals.
Then there are feedlots run off, and the sewers of Boise, Spokane, Pocotello, Tri-Cities, Yakama, Ellensberg to name but a few.
Windsurfing in Hood River is mile post 120 miles from the end of a 2700 mile sewer.
Hanford clean up: Yes, the project "swings" from "boom budgets" to starvation, on the wims of Congress. People are hired, for programs that get cut. People go to school for 2 years for specialized jobs (me and others), only to have these employment terminated before the first day of paid work. Hanford has a reputation for a "Career Breaker" a poor investment of school, time and money.
These decisions are made by Congrees, and the budget.
Yes cleanup work is behind, they cut and froze and laid-off. The Dept of Energy has NEVER met a agreed deadline- never even close.
Hanford has few friends in Congress. After the "benge days" of budgets guarded by the US Speaker of the House -Tom Foley (3rd most powerful man in nation) D- Washington, his defeat abrupty ended the cost plus contracts and big stable budgets. Now the NW has no senority, and Hanford clean up few champions.
I was born in Yakima Washington in 1959. From what I understand, that makes me a downwinder. If you look at my family, you can easily see that it's true.
Four of the five women in my immediate family have had thyroid issues. My mother had her thyroid removed after a benign tumor began to restrict her airway and her ability to swallow. It was caught soon enough, but the doctors said it had the potential to become cancerous if it had been left alone.
I had my thyroid removed because of multiple "hot" nodules that were causing hyperthyroid disease. Incidentally, I find it amusing that now that my thyroid has been surgically removed, I have what is called "aquired hypo-thyroidism". Like I caught it as a virus on the playground.
My younger sister is on medication permanently, to suppress her production of thyroid hormone. Her thyroid was "storming" and causing symptoms that looked very much like a stroke.
My older sister has thyroid tests which are just barely normal enough that her HMO won't agree to treatment. But her weight is impossible to lower and her exhaustion interferes with her daily life.
The only one of us who does not have noticable problems yet, is our baby siser, who is ten years younger than the rest of us. So I think we will wait and see about her. But her date of birth is such that she may have escaped.
When my thyroid was removed, it was completely covered with growths and it was totally black. Weird at the very least. And there is no history of thyroid disease in our extended family. Just those of us who lived in Yakima and the tri city area in the 50s and early 60s.
I was very glad to read that that stupid study that said there was no effect of I 131 on the thyroid of children born in the tri city area, was discredited. I was outraged when I heard of it.
We just really need to be more cautious as a nation when trying new technology, to be sure that our by products are not harmful, and not to be too glib about the health of innocent populations.
You should follow though with your investigations; Yes you are a "down winder" it is quite possible Iodine 131 ( decayed off now) may be involved.
Yes clean up is far, far behind. This comes from budget cuts, and the fact that the issues are absolutely new,, and a "best guess" at success. Its far better than doing nothing, and letting this "brew" decide its own fate. This comes from a political process which changes its spending priorities, almost over night.
It helps to have an open "lay minded citizenship" that can be communitarian with in everyday language - even at the price of "over symplifaction"
Budget cuts, and being aproto - type; the glass log plant is currently 10 years behind compleation. Law suits (normal) and delays and budget cuts are the cause. This one one of the most expensive projects in Washington State.
Positive developments - some are natural.
Radioactive Iodine ( Thyroid Cancer) has decayed off, and no longer is being produced. This happened when Hanford stoped producing plutonuium
Radioactive Tridium (Mutant Hydrogen) has ceased being produced, some ground contamination exists - it has had about a 80% decay into Helium a benign chemical. Otherwise Tridium behaves chemically like Hydrogen and will bond to form water, or any other compond hydrogen does. Existing amounts are small, and do leach into the Columbua River in the form of water -its amount is so low it is not dectectable by moniters at the City Water intake, Richland Washington.
Caeiusm, Stonisum - bone seeker (body will absorb it like calicum) 30 year 1/2 life. Total Decay in about 300 years. So far its been about 18 years - yes it is something to be concerned about, and will be in the future 286 years. Trackable, detectable, measureable these sites have been suceesfully "concuned" in cement - similar to chynobels. In the future it will be safer to dismatle these buildings and reactors as the amounts present decay with time, and in about 300 years will be normal.
Chemicals: The brew in the holding tanks - it is supposed to be made in to glass logs. Will theses logs last long enough ? Not really known. The brew has "everthing" in it so no "quality of standards of ingreadants exist". AND:
As time goes on a radioactive brew will decay, forming new as yet chemical compounds, be they in liquid form (as now) or in glass. So stability of the glass logs, forever is a"devel in the details" issue.
Will these componds cause a nuclear reaction? a bomb ? Highly unlikely, as yeas they are radioactive, and under going decay and transformation; they do NOT contain the nuclear compounds necessary for an atomic reaction ie a bomb.
Those componds were made and removed. They are the most expensive chemical known to man, they were the object of the process. If it were possible to make gold,, then the recovery of Gold would be a priority. Same is the case here - the Ptutonium and Desired Uranium were recovered for manufactureing into bomds and nuclear fuel for power plants, and the Navy submarines and ships.
However, this brew and Nuclear wastes may be a target to make a "dirty bomb". Where radioactive material is used as shrapnel around a normal exposive and cause hysteria in cities or populations who are uneasy with radio active materials. Materials that are quite common in Medical Devises, Quality Industrial X Rays and many other sources.
Some alarming but, too small statical records;
Tom Bailey (Mesa Farmer) right across Columbia River from Hanford, has some 22 neighbors, that tragically had birth defects, cancer. This is very alarming, and Tom became a leader in the Hanford Down Winders organization. This finding did spak some investigations by several independant organizations.
Equally important (I have a Math/ Stastical experience and background) is these numbers are very low, to be called a "sample" that can quantitatively lead to conclusions. Jerry Pollet of Heart for America, will give more details and backgrounds on these events and Tom Bailey.
>>Statistically when doing Political or marketing surveys, the larger the sample 600 or above, then some highly accurate conclusions may be drawn. But when compared to a sample size of the rural region, or the county, excessive cancer rates has not been satisfactory proved to be Hanford caused.
Reasons for cancer are many; smoking, nitrates (fertilizer) in the water table; farm chemicals now and in the past - DDT and others.
Cancer rates for among past hanford workers, have been above norm. It is important to note that prior to the 1980's Personal Protective Clothing : BREATHING MASKS was OPTIONAL at the decision of the EMPLOYEE;
In a hot desert, around materials that give no taste nor smell, and working hard - its easy to NOT use a MASK. Besides they get in the way of smoking!
Finally not all the hazards were known; Iodine 131 hazards (cows-milk- radiation) was not identified as a significant radioactive pollutant until about 1957. Thats when a English Nuclear (English Design) Reactor at Southworth England, sprung a leak, leaking radioactive Iodine into a Dairy regon of England.
I am not in favor or shipping and storing nuclear wastes in thie area. I lived in Walla Walla WA '53-'57 and in Idaho. i have had to cases of Kidney cancer. The most recent in my thyroid this summer. There is no know reason for kidney cancer. There have been a lot of cases in this area. I believe i am a "down winder". We don't need any more additions to our air and soil and especially our water.
My grandfather grew up in White Bluffs, WA a town that was evacuated by the federal government to become part of the Hanford Nuclear Site. He later raised a family just across the Columbia River where he still owns an orchard that my uncle tends to in Pasco, WA.
Despite having his family displaced and unfairly compensated for the farmland they owned in White Bluffs and witnessing all the controversy since before Hanford was created he's still a strong proponent of nuclear power. If you watch the movie Silkwood it's clear how human arrogance and profit seeking at Hanford has always been a huge risk to the public safety for everyone in the Northwest. My grandfather would call a lot of the concern around nuclear power and these waste issues fear mongering. I've struggled for years to understand his pro-nuclear perspective, but now I would have to admit that given the global dependence on oil and all the horrible effects we're currently experiencing nuclear power has a comparatively innocuous legacy of environmental damage.
Clearly oil dependency and nuclear waste are not sustainable. The real shame is that there hasn't been another Manhattan Project type initiative towards seeking alternatives to these energy sources that are sustainable, clean, safe, and a net positive on our environment.
I grew up in a small town, Pomeroy, 100 miles "downwind" from Hanford. The population of my town is less than 1500 people. The percentage of people who have developed Lupus and Cancer is overwhelming. Many believe that Hanford is to blame for much of the sickness.
I now live in Portland but grew up near Hanford for 18 years. It still terrifies me.
Unfortunately Ground water in wells less then 70 feet deep have been contaminated by nitrate poisoning (fertilizer) ia is very wide spread though out the farm belt. Farm practices had over use of fertilzer for decades.
Lupus while rates are high in NW, along with MS, exact or even possible causes, remain unknown.
Although not many people know it, there is another high tech facility at Hanford named LIGO which stands for Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory, which is on the cutting edge of Physics. They are attempting to measure gravity and quantify it for the first time. Is this Observatory affected by the radiation from the nuclear waste or are they "up wind" enough?
Just for information about submarines, Sweden has non-nuclear submarines powered by Stirling-cycle engines using liquefied oxygen and they can stay underwater for months.
As a Tri-Cities native (current Portland resident) and daughter of a Hanford (Westinghouse employed) employee; I find it disheartening to have the state of Washington sue the Federal Government over clean up. My father was involved with nuclear power from the age 18 until his retirement (initial crew member of the nucelar powered Nautilus, worked at Hanford, Oak Ridge and a number of other domestic and foreign reactors.)
How is a lawsuit going to speed the clean up process?? How will it determine what to do with the "sludge"?? It does not seem at all proactive nor in the best interest of the residents of the Tri-Cities (or down-winders) if there IS a sense of urgency... Honestly - what politician is knowledgeable enough to make a decision on nuclear power and nuclear waste?? I know that the state has a huge deficit - is this one way for Gov. G to bail her reputation out of a huge financial hole? Seems like she doesn't care about the east side of the state until there is a benefit to the greater metropolitan areas of Washington (WEST of the Cascades).
I was listening earler and happy to hear Anna King comment on the Reach. It is BEAUTIFUL and one of the most protected areas of our country. As a Natural Resource graduate, I was able to learn firsthand that the wildlife there is healthy and thriving. I grew up swimming in the Columbia River just in Richland and know that the stretch of the river is MORE polluted here in Portland (and along the Willamette) than areas of the Tri-Cities because of agricultural run-off!
I do feel for the down-winders that feel their health has been compromised by the site and facts being facts, if that the case then YES, the DOE should compensate and help them out. The other side of this is there really a greater number of cancer cases because of the site or is it that we are more medically advanced in our diagnosis of cancers and other diseases?
Anna is correct in that you will find it hard to hear anything negative about the site from the locals. That IS their bread and butter - we live(d) there and see how healthy the locals, land and the wildlife is. It is a positive source of clean energy and we should be able (as a country) to build smarter and cleaner nuclear reactors. I think it is insane to open the reactors for tourism - and in all honestly, should NOT open the Reach to tourism either. The site is the heart of a lot of devistation (for Nagasaki) and should be closed in respect for those citizens - so perhaps more a memorial than a tourist site. The reach is pristine because they have kept humans away. PLEASE don't let that change.
Let the folks (DOE ideally!) who know how to fix the problem do their job without the cloud a time consuming lawsuit hovering.
Compared to other programs, I'm disappointed how one-sided and 'advocacy' the tone was. The truth that many people do not want to hear is that Hanford area is in many ways relatively safe. It's a major wildlife refuge, with the best wild salmon success of anywhere on the river. Pollution issues are probably just as significant in other cities, surrounded by freeways car exhaust and industrial plants, and on farms with toxic herbicides.
Hanford has a unique history because much of the pollution comes from a period during a global war where little was known about long term effects, and frankly little emphasis given to them because the alternative was seen as losing that war. Many parts of the world were impacted by that conflict - should we be funding the clean up of Japanese cities? Should they be funding the cleanup of Hanford? I think it's time to feel less guilt around the choices back then.
Bottom line it's hard to trust the advocacy groups here - the State is understandably after a bunch of Federal money, individuals are seeking their own health care in a society without good health options, and the drum of advocacy creates an atmosphere of suspicion and fear which I think is overblown.
I worked in the nuclear industry in Idaho form 1966-1970; then I stated working on my PhD, in applied mathematics in Pullman at Washington State University. In 1973 (or 1974, it was one of those two years) an engineering student came to me with data that he had on radioactive elements in the ground water under Hanford. He wanted me to check his work on fitting a first order differential equation diffusion model to those data. I confirmed that he had done the work accurately and that it did show that there was then evidence of significant radioactivity material leaking into the local aquifer and at that rate it could easily be contaminating the Columbia River. From that information, it appears that the site has been leaking significantly for over 30 years. Comments?
yes it has been leaking radioactive ground water( Tridium mentioned some posts back) for 30 years.
It is identifiable at the intake to the Columbia River. The sheer volume of the Columbia River makes it undectable when mixed with the Columbia River Water.
Tritium is mildly radioactive ( as a bata decay) behaves chemically identical to hydrogen , and will decay ti Helium. Untraceable amounts ingested would be negligible, as water consumption is so large. The body would process it as water, and be done with it.
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