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Department of Ecology Statement - April 18, 2016
RICHLAND – An alarm was activated on Sunday, April 17, at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation while crews working for the U.S. Department of Energy were pumping waste out of the double-shell tank AY-102.
There is no indication of waste leaking into the environment or risk to the public at this time.
The Department of Energy notified the Washington Department of Ecology that the leak detector alarm went off.
The alarm indicates an increase in waste seeping from the primary tank into the space between the primary and secondary tank, known as the annulus.
Crews have been actively removing waste from AY-102 since March because mixed radioactive and chemical waste had previously leaked into the secondary containment area. Approximately 20,000 gallons of waste remains from the original 800,000 gallons in the tank.
According to the Department of Energy, the removal work is currently on hold while engineers evaluate the situation and prepare a plan to recover the material that leaked between the two walls of the tank.
This morning, an Ecology Nuclear Waste Program engineer assessed the situation with the Department of Energy waste retrieval engineers to assure that contingency response plans are being followed.
Additional leaking into the annulus was a known possibility during pumping and is addressed in the Department of Energy’s contingency plan that was submitted to Ecology as part of a Settlement Agreement. That plan delineates actions for Energy to take.
Ecology continues to monitor the situation as spelled out in the settlement agreement that directs waste retrieval.
There are 28 double-shell tanks at the Hanford site.
Joye Redfield-Wilder, communications, 509-575-2610; @ecyCentral
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