Leaks were detected in at least six underground storage tanks of nuclear waste in Hanford, Washington State. Authorities have requested additional federal aid for cleaning the place, according to AFP.
“There is no immediate risk to health concerning the leaks we just found. The tanks are located at a distance of five miles (about eight kilometers) from Columbia River,” said Inslee, after a meeting with U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu on Friday in Washington.
“However, the news is worrying for all state residents,” he added.
Governor pointed out that Steven Chu informed him last week of possible leak on a tank. But Chu admitted that his department had not analyzed properly the information which could have revealed additional leaks.
“This raises serious questions about the 149 tanks containing mud and radioactive liquid in Hanford,” added Jay Inslee.
“I think we need new procedures for emptying old vats and I am pleased that the Department of Energy already examines new ways to accelerate the process,” he added.
Hanford nuclear plant is located about 300 kilometers southeast of Seattle. Originally it was used to produce plutonium for the manufacture of two nuclear bombs dropped on Japan in 1945, which ended the Second World War.
Subsequently, the production of the nuclear facility grew during the Cold War, but the last reactor was closed in 1987. “The production of nuclear weapons left solid and liquid waste that pose a risk to the local environment”, particularly the Columbia River, it reads on Hanford site.
Federal and state authorities have made an agreement in 1989 to clean the facility and the 177 tanks that are part of it.
French group Areva, associated in the facility management since 2008, has revealed a little different statistics talking about 170 cells containing approximately 200,000 cubic meters of chemical and radioactive waste.
Governor Inslee asked federal authorities to act quickly to ensure that some budget cuts do not affect the measures taken to clean the system.
Department of Energy (DoE) confirmed, in turn, leaks to six nuke waste reservoirs.
“There is no immediate health risk. Energy Department cooperates with Washington and other partners to solve issues related to these thanks,” said Lindsey Geisler, a spokeswoman for the department, without specifying the exact nature of the substances leaking from the containers.