Emergency Declared At Vast Nuclear Dump 25 Miles From Seattle | William Thomas Online | William Thomas

Emergency Declared At Vast Nuclear Dump 25 Miles From Seattle





by William Thomas

The US Department of Energy has declared an emergency at the Hanford, Washington nuclear waste storage site, after a 400 square-foot cave-in early Tuesday morning (May 9) at the junction of two tunnels used to store highly radioactive materials and equipment.


The USA’s most contaminated nuclear site threatens Washington's Tri-Cities of Richland, Kennewick and Pasco several miles downriver – as well as “downwinders” in Canada and the USA.


Some 9,000 workers employed elsewhere on the nuclear reservation half the size of Rhode Island continue at their jobs.


"There is no initial indication of any worker exposure or an airborne radiological release," the Dept. of Energy insists. But a robot is being used to sample the air for radioactive contamination.

Wax models in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum p

 Wax models depict atomic attack -Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum 

Hanford’s atomic karma includes hundreds of thousands of horrific deaths after the plutonium produced there that was used to field-test two different atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima after President Truman rebuffed initial efforts by the Japanese government to surrender. With more than 60 cities firebombed into equal devastation, the atomic attacks signaled another two cities gone. It was Stalin – and Russia’s advance on northern Japan – that ended the Pacific War.

 “Normal” Hanford plumes 

That war came home in December 1949, when the U.S. Government deliberately released an immense amount of Iodine-131 from the Hanford Site into widespread populations over a period of 12 hours. Ostensibly to develop better detection equipment, the notorious Green Run experiment targeted “downwinders”, who were later surveyed for health problems.


The actual release of radioactive iodine was double what was anticipated. And while scientists expected to track a coherent death cloud, the invisible plumes dispersed across much of Washington State and into Southern Oregon. Internalizing iodine-131 is a direct cause of thyroid cancer.

Hanford’s ongoing radioactive troubles - March 23, 2004

The salmon-bearing Columbia River flows through Hanford and along the Washington – Oregon border. Private pilots are banned from flying over Hanford during the ongoing emergency.


As in all things nuclear – especially accidents – denial remains the go-to official “solution”. In February 2014, Donna Busche became yet another Hanford whistle-blower fired after raising concerns about the leaking underground tanks.


That same year, the US government rejected an $18 billion request, spread over 14 years, to tackle the nation’s most polluted nuclear weapons production site.


Google Maps

An August 2015 report by the Vanderbilt University civil and environmental engineering department said that the PUREX facility and the two tunnels had “the potential for significant on-site consequences.”


Former Energy Department official Robert Alvarez explains that the partially-exposed tunnels store “contaminated train cars and a considerable amount of highly radioactive, ignitable wastes including possible organic vapors.”


“According to a 1997 DOE report, inspection of the tunnels ‘is not feasible because of radiation levels in excess of five roentgens per hour,’” Alvarez added.


Despite the official happy talk, Edwin Lyman – a senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists – says there is cause for concern. “It appears that this is a potentially serious event,” he told reporters. “Collapse of the earth covering the tunnels could lead to a considerable radiological release.”


The first three nuclear reactors on this planet were built at Hanford, with another six nuclear plants added later. They operated for 10 years before generating electricity. Electricity is a secondary purpose for nuclear power plants. “They were designed and built as plutonium manufacturing plants,” explains Robert Jacobs.


“Hanford is home to 60% (by volume) of all of the high level radioactive waste stored in the United States. Nearly 80% of the Department of Energy’s inventory of spent nuclear fuel rods are stored just 400 yards away from the Columbia River,” Jacobs writes.


At the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, a Steady Drip of Toxic Trouble -dailybeast.com

Hanford radioactive waste “storage"

Hanford’s hazards are regularly in the news – most often concerning 177 old storage tanks holding “53 million gallons of the highest level radioactive waste existing in the United States,” Jacobs echoes other accounts. At least 67 single-wall tanks have leaked over 1 million gallons of highly radioactive liquid waste, “which is migrating through the soil and groundwater into the Columbia River.”


Tom Carpenter of Hanford Challenge, a Hanford watchdog group, says, "None of these tanks would be acceptable for use today. They are all beyond their design life. None of them should be in service. And yet, they're holding two-thirds of the nation's high-level nuclear waste."


There is no effective containment or security at the Tank Farms In 2011 the DOE emptied many leaking single-shelled tanks into flawed double-wall tanks – resulting in further radioactive leaks. And worker casualties.


“Each year numerous workers are exposed to [radioactive] ‘vapors’ and become sick or lose consciousness and require hospitalization. Many suffer ongoing health problems as a result of these exposures. In 2014 over 40 workers suffered from such exposures including a two-week period in late March that saw 26 workers hospitalized,” Jacobs reveals.


The amount of radiation in the Hanford area dwarfs the amounts arriving daily by air and ocean from Fukushima, Jacobs says. “There are many people who say they will not eat fish from the Pacific Ocean, or eat food from Japan. At the same time, there is no discussion about eating Salmon from the Columbia River, drinking wines from the Columbia Valley, or fruit from the orchards that fill the downwind area around Hanford.”


“A legacy of death and illness” – including cancers and other serious diseases – “spans generations” downwind from Hanford, Robert Jacobs adds, across a wide area of Eastern Washington and beyond.


The federal government spends $2 billion every year – not on Hanford cleanup but toward construction of a $12.3 billion vitrification plant to convert massive amounts of extremely dangerous underground waste into glasslike logs for storage lasting nearly as long as the human species has existed.


Plutonium is the most toxic substance on Earth. It remains extremely lethal well beyond its half-life of 24,000 years.


The latest estimate to finish the overall cleanup tops $107 billion. It is unlikely that Trump – whose professed knowledge of nuclear matters is an intellectual ground zero – will act. And this estimate is expected to accelerate in direct proportion to further clean-up delays.


Meanwhile, residents like myself located in the Canadian and U.S. Pacific Northwest continue to keep a close eye on a developing disaster that may not be the one we’ve long expected to happen.

This time.

Hanford perimeter fence mimics Mexico broder “wall"

Official Hanford Emergency Updates 


 发件人     William Thomas 2019