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This is just the tip of the iceberg.
GARY CHITTIM / KING 5 News August 31, 2012
A second leak of suspected radioactive material at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation was recently detected, the U.S. Department of Energy confirmed Friday.
As with the first leak revealed last month, the new material was found in a gap between the walls of a double-walled storage tank (see photos in gallery).
The leak was found during a routine inspection and was described as a three-foot mass that tested positive for high-level radioactivity.
Seattle Times l June 19, 2011
The federal agency created to oversee safety at U.S. nuclear complexes says the Hanford nuclear reservation fails to promote a safe work environment.
THE Department of Energy and a primary contractor at the Hanford nuclear reservation are not protecting worker health. The failure threatens to compromise the cleanup mission and, ultimately, protection of the public.
Such a blunt assessment did not come from a disgruntled employee or a union rep, but the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, created in the wake of past abuses.
Worker health and safety issues have been as persistent a problem at Hanford as technical delays and shredded budgets. The safety board was invented in the absence of state and federal oversight of worker safety.
Hanford failed to protect the people around it by releasing radiation accidentally and deliberately into the air, reaching as far as Idaho and Oregon; and into water- the Columbia River. The U.S. judicial system has failed to give the plaintiffs a fair day in court in a trouble filled, bitter, law suit that has lasted decades. The Price Anderson Act has worked well to protect the industry from liability, but it's corollary promise- to provide "full and prompt compensation" to victims with valid claims has failed miserably. Going up against a client, the U.S. government, with endless pockets and much to lose if they allow the true risk of radiation exposure to be validated in court, the victims are growing old and getting sicker. Many of them have died. All remaining are stuck in the limbo of an endless trial, that no longer really seems to be about them at all.
"It's been such a burden for my family and friends. I've been so ill," says Sharon Benz, a downwinder with "a carcinoid tumor in her appendix, a heart attack, diabetes, glaucoma, a hysterectomy, hives covering her body — and thyroid disease... I know the attorneys are doing their jobs." But after so many years of waiting, she added, "I just get frustrated."
The National Law Journal l Jenna Greene 20 June, 2011
In some ways, Carole Means' teenage years on a farm in southeastern Wash ing ton state in the 1950s sound so wholesome, almost idyllic. She ate homegrown fruit and vegetables, fish from the nearby Columbia River, and drank milk from the family cows that grazed along its banks.
The farm commanded a view across the river of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, the world's first full-scale plutonium reactor. Hanford produced most of the material for the U.S. arsenal of nuclear bombs, including the one dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, in 1945. For local residents, the plant was a source of pride — their unique contribution to winning World War II — and of jobs, employing 50,000 people at its peak.
It was also catastrophically toxic. Starting in 1944, the plant silently released huge amounts of radiation into the air, water and soil — sometimes intentionally, the government now admits.
New seismological evidence suggests that Hanford may be on even shakier ground than already feared. While the DOE struggles with massive clean up problems at what has been called the "most contaminated place in the western hemishpere", a paleoseismologist from the US Geological Survey finds evidence suggesting the area around Hanford may be at risk of major earthquake activity:
"A new paper by Sherrod and Richard Blakely accepted for publication May 2 highlights compelling new evidence that the Yakima Fold and Thrust belt may be much more seismically active than ling thought. If true, these findings could reshape assumptions used in assessments of nuclear safety...the Cascadia Subduction Zone has in the past and could again produce quakes similar to what struck Japan."
The idea of an earthquake like the one which helped cripple Japan's Fukushima reactors occurring near Hanford boggles the mind. Hanford already exists on the brink of disaster, with waste leaking out of every orifice. And unlike most nuclear reactor sites, an enormous part of Hanford's waste is plutonium.
Research Shakes Up Seismic Knowledge Near Northwest Nuclear Plant
Brian Sherrod's a professional fault finder.
The United States Geological Survey paleoseismologist scrambles up a shrub-covered hillside outside Yakima, WA, points a few hundred yards away and describes how a long stretch of slightly off-colored soil could change perceptions of an entire region's earthquake readiness.
Three years from now, when the latest iterations of the USGS's national hazard maps appear, they'll likely include new information about the Yakima Fold and Thrust Belt. That's a crinkled landscape of anticlines and synclines – hill-like folds of the earth's crust – spread across Central and Eastern Washington, including the spot where Sherrod now stands and, further east, the home of the Northwest's only commercial nuclear reactor.
A new paper by Sherrod and Richard Blakely accepted for publication May 2 highlights compelling new evidence that the Yakima Fold and Thrust belt may be much more seismically active than ling thought. If true, these findings could reshape assumptions used in assessments of nuclear safety, just as regulators try to reassess the controversial energy source in the wake of the March 11 Tohoku earthquake in Japan.