nuclear waste

Hanford Nuclear Reservation: Big problems at nation's #1 dump, but stimulus funds speed cleanup

Maybe it was the post-Earth Day glow, or perhaps the prospect of a long-delayed vacation. But today when I and colleagues from the Society of Environmental Journalists visited the most contaminated site in North America, Hanford Nuclear Reservation, I was surprised by the amount of progress that has been made on cleanup.

Now, there's no doubt that Hanford is still a mess. The project is starting to look like it will cost roughly twice as much and take roughly twice as long as originally estimated, as Karen Dorn Steele established on our tour. There's been no shortage of screwups and missteps in the cleanup process. Radioactive waste is leaking into the only part of the Columbia River that still flows naturally, onto the spawning grounds for that so-very-rare commodity on the Columbia, a healthy salmon run.

And, of course, there’s the seemingly never-ending quest to build what has begun to sound like a figment of someone’s imagination: A plant that encases the worst of the wastes in a glass-like substance for longterm storage. Now it’s supposed to be done in 2019. I’ll believe it when I see it.

Carol Smith's picture

Nuclear waste for dollars deal blasted

The battle over where to put foreign radioactive waste is getting hotter in Utah, where Rep. Jim Matheson has sent a letter to Gov. Gary Herbert calling  Energy Solutions Inc.'s offer to share its profits with the state nothing short of "influence peddling," according to a report by Matt Canham and Thomas Burr of the Salt Lake Tribune.

The  Salt Lake City-based nuclear services company has proposed a deal that could net the state $3 billion over a decade, and Senate Majority Leader Sheldon Killpack, mindful the state's budget is $700 million short, said the offer should be reconsidered.

"It's a horrible idea to consider opening up Utah to the entire world's radioactive garbage in exchange for a share of what the company says are the profits," Matheson said in the Tribune story. "No other country on Earth takes another country's nuclear waste and I am determined that the U.S. won't be the exception."

The latest salvo against the proposal follows a federal court ruling earlier this month that limits states' rights to restrict radioactive waste going to their disposal facilities.