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Hanford Watchdogs: Sending Tank Waste To NM Won't Work

Anna King, Northwest News Network


RICHLAND, Wash. – A plan to ship some radioactive waste from the Hanford Nuclear Reservation to New Mexico for storage won’t work. That was message Tuesday from three environmental watchdog groups. They’re asking the Obama Administration’s nominee for Secretary of Energy to drop the idea. Richland correspondent Anna King reports. 

Earlier this month, Governor Jay Inslee announced the federal government’s preferred storage site for about 3 million gallons of tank waste is salt caves in New Mexico. That’s out of 56 million gallons total stored at Hanford. Now, environmental watchdog groups call this a waste of time. In a letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, they argue the waste would have to be legally redefined and a new plant would be required to dry-down or bind-up the waste in grout. Tom Carpenter heads the group Hanford Challenge and calls the New Mexico option a “bar napkin plan.” 

“It’s years and years away. And it’s a distraction. So I think that its something that the government ought to drop, New Mexico doesn’t want it. And instead focus our efforts on building those new tanks,” Carpenter says. 

The Department of Energy did not respond for comment. Meanwhile, up to three gallons of radioactive waste a day seeps into the ground from underground tanks at Hanford.

The Natural Resources Defense Council based in Washington, D.C., the Southwest Research and Information Center out of Albuquerque, New Mexico and the Seattle-based group Hanford Challenge penned the letter to Secretary Chu.


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