RICHLAND – The U.S. Department of Energy announced yesterday (Thursday) that an underground storage tank for radioactive and dangerous chemical waste is leaking at the Hanford Site. Tank B-109 is estimated to be leaking 3.5 gallons a day.
The Hanford Site is monitored by the Washington Department of Ecology Nuclear Waste Program, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to oversee the federal cleanup of Hanford.
“It’s a serious matter whenever a Hanford tank leaks its radioactive and dangerous chemical waste,” Ecology Director Laura Watson said. “Based on the information we have right now, the leak poses no immediate increased risk to workers or the public, but it adds to the ongoing environmental threat at Hanford.”
Tank B-109 is estimated to be at least 75 years old. Ecology has been tracking the tank for more than a year, which is when formal leak assessment first began. It is leaking into an area where other tanks have already leaked 200,000 gallons into the soil. The water table where the leaking tank sets is 210 to 240 feet below the tank. It’s estimated that since March 2019 the tank has leaked 1,700 gallons into the soil.
“This leak is adding to the estimated one million gallons of tank waste already in the soil across the Hanford site,” Watson said. “This highlights the critical need for resources to address Hanford’s aging tanks, which will continue to fail and leak over time.”