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Nuclear Waste Seeping From 6 Containers In Washington

Posted: February 22, 2013

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The state's governor called the news "disturbing" but said there is no health threat at the moment. Hanford has been in existence since the 1940s, when the site was used to prepare plutonium for bombs.

Workers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation near Richland, Wash., in 2010.

Workers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation near Richland, Wash., in 2010. Shannon Dininny

The number of underground containers seeping nuclear waste has increased to six from one at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation near Richland, Wash.

On his twitter account, Gov. Jay Inslee said he received the news during a meeting with Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu. Inslee called the news "disturbing."

"News of six leaking tanks at Hanford raises serious questions about [the] integrity of all single tanks," Inslee said on Twitter. "But there are no immediate health risks."

As Korva reported last week, the Department of Energy said one single-shell tank was losing between 150 to 300 gallons of radioactive waste each year.

Korva added:

"Hanford has been in existence since the 1940s, when the site was used to prepare plutonium for bombs. As NPR's Martin Kaste tells our Newscast Desk, federal officials have spent many years and billions of dollars cleaning up the reservation, including efforts to protect the nearby Columbia River. There are 177 tanks holding nuclear waste at the Hanford site; Gov. Inslee says 149 are single shelled, like the leaking one. Worse, they've outlived their 20-year life expectancy."

Earlier today, the Northwest News Network reported that Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said new litigation concerning the reservation is more likely now.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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