A new report about the radioactive tank waste at Hanford says the cleanup could take decades longer and cost billions more than estimated. The document, called “System Plan 8,” proposes 11 complex scenarios for how the 56 million gallons of radioactive tank waste could be moved out of those tanks and treated.
One scenario suggests bypassing a huge part of the under-construction Waste Treatment Plant. Another scenario includes building new underground tanks to hold the toxic waste.
But what stands out is that the baseline case — basically, what the federal government is doing now — could cost $62 billion more and take about two decades longer than estimated three years ago.
It’s not for sure that the baseline case will go forward as the final plan, but every scenario appears to cost more and take longer than expected.
All of the plan’s scenarios assume that Hanford cleanup would get more federal money for many years into the future than it gets now. And it assumes that no major catastrophes or problems will occur — like that train tunnel of radioactive waste that partially collapsed this spring and had to be dealt with or an earthquake.
This plan will help inform negotiations between the federal government and the state for tank waste treatment deadlines starting just after the new year.