Tuesday, May 11, 2021
May 11, 2021

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Nuclear waste structures in Washington state are stabilized

The Columbian

RICHLAND (AP) — The U.S. Department of Energy has confirmed that two underground structures at the decommissioned Hanford nuclear reservation in Washington have been stabilized after they were deemed at risk of collapsing and spreading radioactive contamination into the air.

“With this work completed, Hanford has ensured the stability of these structures and reduced risks to workers and the environment,” department spokesperson Geoff Tyree said.

The partial collapse of a tunnel storing nuclear waste the nuclear reservation in 2017 prompted a federal study which concluded last year that a large settling tank and two trenches where plutonium-contaminated liquids were poured into the ground for disposal posed a high risk of collapse and contamination, Tri-City Herald reported Tuesday.

The Hanford reservation produced plutonium for nuclear weapons during the Cold War and World War II, leaving 56 million gallons of radioactive waste in underground tanks.

Scott Sax, president of Hanford contractor Central Plateau Cleanup Co., told employees that the three underground structures identified in the study were filled with grout to prevent collapse.