Radioactive Waste Is Leaking From Washington's Hanford Nuclear Reservation

Tyler Durden's picture

And now for a quick lesson in government spending: in the 1940s the federal government created the now mostly decommissioned Washington's Hanford Nuclear Reservation as part of the Manhattan Project to build the atomic bomb. During the Cold War, the project was expanded to include nine nuclear reactors and five large plutonium processing complexes, which produced plutonium for most of the 60,000 weapons in the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Sadly, many of the early safety procedures and waste disposal practices were inadequate, and government documents have since confirmed that Hanford's operations released significant amounts of radioactive materials into the air and the Columbia River.

The weapons production reactors were decommissioned at the end of the Cold War, but the decades of manufacturing left behind 53 million US gallons of high-level radioactive waste, an additional 25 million cubic feet of solid radioactive waste, 200 square miles of contaminated groundwater beneath the site and occasional discoveries of undocumented contaminations that slow the pace and raise the cost of cleanup. The Hanford site represents two-thirds of the nation's high-level radioactive waste by volume. Today, Hanford is the most contaminated nuclear site in the United States and is the focus of the nation's largest environmental cleanup. The government spends $2 billion each year on Hanford cleanup — one-third of its entire budget for nuclear cleanup nationally. The cleanup is expected to last decades. It turns out that as Krugman would say, the government was not spending nearly enough, and moments ago Governor Jay Inslee said that six underground radioactive waste tanks at the nation's most contaminated nuclear site are leaking.

From AP:

Inslee made the announcement after meeting with federal officials in Washington, D.C. Last week it was revealed that one of the 177 tanks at south-central Washington's Hanford Nuclear Reservation was leaking liquids. Inslee called the latest news "disturbing."


The tanks, which already are long past their intended 20-year life span, hold millions of gallons of a highly radioactive stew left from decades of plutonium production for nuclear weapons.


The U.S. Department of Energy said earlier that liquid levels were decreasing in one of the tanks at the site. Monitoring wells near the tank have not detected higher radiation levels.

And some more lessons on government spending:

Central to cleanup is the construction of a plant to convert millions of gallons of waste into glasslike logs for safe, secure storage. The $12.3 billion plant is billions of dollars over budget and behind schedule.

See: if only the plant was hundreds of billions, or better yet, trillions of dollars over budget, funded entirely by the Fed's monetization of debt issuance of course, all would be well. Sure enough:

Inslee and Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber have championed building additional tanks to ensure safe storage of the waste until the plant is completed. Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon said earlier this week that he shares their concerns about the integrity of the tanks, but that he wants more scientific information to determine it's the correct way to spend scarce money.

What is this "scarce money" he is talking about? Does he not know that today total US debt just hit a ridiculous all time high $16,608,318,357,376.54, which is $20 billion more than yesterday, and at this point is an absolutely meaningless number? It's not like anyone holds any hope that the US will repay this debt ever.

Then again, if the Columbia river ends up spawning some cool-looking mutants, and if the Canadians start turning violent over concerns that the US is exporting them a little more radiation than they bargained for, then the resulting civil/Canadian war once the US can no longer funds its trillion+ deficits will be all the more colorful and vibrant.

So let radiation leak: in fact print more money to buy more Made in Fukushima plutonium and bury it under the complex. After all - as with every thought experiment, such as that of the US solvency when debt is now 104% of GDP, it must be taken to its absurd limit to be fully appreciated by all those who fought tooth and nail against our original proposal from a year ago to build a death star. Because the only thing better than a nearly $1 quintillion death star is two nearly $1 quintillion death stars.

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CH1's picture

would be smooth running lean mean model of efficiency if it were not for those damn unions.

No, it wouldn't - the unions are not the only problem.

That said, unions are both abusive and hateful, and yes, I know from experience.

Salah's picture

Oh, you worked there? and you know all about it?  and before it was the big, bad, Bechtel's fault, it was the naughty Fluor-Daniel's fault, and before that, the wicked Westinghouse's fault, ad nausea.  Gimme a fuckin break, idiot.

You'd don't know jack-shit.  Those fucks at Hanford got 1 thing cleaned up in a hurry, big-time, record-time matter of fact. 25000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel, with 30% rubblized in 2 gigantic 1940's era pools, an eighth of a mile from the Columbia River, leaking like a sieve, and with a gigantic seismic risk as well.  They got that done using existing French cold-vacuum drying & storage tech, under direct threat of arrest and imprisionment from the Clinton Admn, because everytime there was a quake, the massive pumps came on to refill the pools. 

Your union butt-fuck buddies and their willing sycophant enviro-pansies howled & howled over how "unsafe" it was, and need more "studies"....what a fucking corrupt, socialist joke.




SilverSavant's picture

Anyone who confuses spending money, like a cow pissing on a flat rock, with actually accomplishing, has never been to Hanford.   They spend at least $100 dollars studying and engineering, for every dollar that ever gets anywhere near a union employee.   

Lore's picture

Amen. The relationship between unions and greenshirts in the Environmental Review Industrial Complex is practically symbiotic. If they can't identify data and processes to keep the money flowing, a cynic might suggest that they would be highly motivated to invent them.

Regardless, if there is real leakage, it should be a national scandal.  AIR YOUR DIRTY LAUNDRY. CLEAN IT UP. MAKE AN EXAMPLE. SEND PEOPLE TO JAIL. ASK THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY FOR HELP.

The Second Rule's picture

That's my experience as well (not at Hanford but on other projects). See my response below.

The Second Rule's picture

I worked on a large project at LLL. Union labor wasn't the  problem at all. In fact we were on track and on budget for the first 2 phases of the project. But then there were a couple of accidents and the gubmint decided they needed to get involved to "assure safety." They got rid of the prime contractor and replaced them with another willing to do things the govt way (read  bureaucratic way). Well, let me say this: safety protocols tripled, the bureacracy tripled. To fucking change a light bulb you needed to run a change order up the command chain, where it was reviewed, reviewed again, stamped in triplicate, buried, unearthed, reviewed and stamped one last time and suffice it to say took weeks to get even the smallest fucking thing done. Obviously budget was blown along with the schedule.

Unions were NOT the cause of this. We were used to dealing with unions. We knew the hourly and overtime rates, administrative policies, etc. (that was the easy part of submitting the bid and running the job). It was multiple layers of unnecessary oversight and administrative bottlenecks. I'm not disputing your Hanford story. I wasn't there. But I know the union labor on this project was not the result of the cost and schedule overruns. It was the government insisting on being involved in every decision.

jballz's picture


"Hi I made a bbundle sucking off the government-mic tit and now that I stole my fair share I am going to btich about the rest of the thieves."

Hope you caught cancer while you were there.

jballz's picture


true story- about 10 years ago I meet this guy for a business deal, he wants investors for a midget porn project (ok that I am making up, maybe). Anyway the conversation turns and he mentions he grew up at Hanford. Literally on the grounds there, his dad was some egghead and ran part of the plant. So this guy was there from birth til he left for college. I am a tactful guy so I make a tumor joke. I don't recall the joke, because he didn't get it.

He just says, "oh yeah I have a lot of them". Like I just asked him if he had freckles or moles. And I ask him if he's serious, and he rolls up his shirt sleeve and there are these white fucking lumps under his skin all up and down his arm. And he tells me that they are just "fatty tissue tumors" or some shit, and they are benign and, with a straight face, tells me they had nothing at all to do with his growing up on the hanford rez.

His doctors told him so...

Blew my fucking mind.

Anyway I am just saying that here because I wanted to share, and also to say when I hope you got cancer too I meant it, and I bet there is a great chance you did.

Try not to sue the taxpayers when you get diagnosed, you have sucked enough off my tit for one lifetime.

Government workers right here, bitchez.


(hypocrite green arrowing motherfuckers).

S5936's picture

J you are one banged up dude, get some help !!

Demologos's picture

i worked there in the 80s on a project to see if they could bury nuclear waste a mile deep.  The underlying basalt rock was too fractured and water took about a day to travel 100 feet at that depth.

My job was to drive a 50 mile loop and make sure data acquisition equipment was online 24/7.  I saw some interesting things.  At one well site, was the old Hanford schoolhouse from the 40's when there was a town full of workers for the Manhattan Project.  Every loop I would pass a small pretty blue lake.  In the desert landscape it was very inviting, but I was told it was full of tritium.  One of my first days on the job I saw one of our drilling contractors cooling off in water from one of the many standpipes that constantly spewed.  It was a hot day and the water looked refreshing.  The boss I was with told him he needed to be checked for contamination because there was tritium in the water.  They knew those tanks were leaking back then.

On the other hand, I would be driving and see eight and ten point bucks standing near the road.  There was no hunting so they lived until they died from old age.  The radiation didn't seem to affect them much.  Once I was with a couple of old codgers in a survey truck who were there to inject radioactive iodine into a well to see how long it took to migrate to a nearby well.  They complained because the area's radiation monitor crew ripped the stool out of their truck because it was too "hot."  They were more pissed about that than the fact that their sperm count was probably negative.

This was during the height of the No Nukes movement and my personal experiences there left me less afraid of radiation than when I started.  It is like working around heavy machinery.  You learn to respect the danger and use caution, or you wind up dead or worse.  I don't know about cleaning it up.  The upthread suggestion of burning the waste might get rid of some of it.  Otherwise, we should probably make some new and better tanks to hold it until we have better technology to neutralize it.

jballz's picture

"On the other hand, I would be driving and see eight and ten point bucks standing near the road...  The radiation didn't seem to affect them much."


Yes, except that they were actually 9-month old does.


S5936's picture

Lay off Shlitz for a day or two and read a book numb nuts , any book dopey bastid !

CH1's picture

Thanks, Salah. Always best to hear from someone with direct knowledge.

McMolotov's picture

Nothing inspires you to "look for the union label" quite like a work slowdown at a nuclear clean-up site. May they all grow mutated porcupine quills out their urethras and saggy boobs from their foreheads.

secret_sam's picture

Perfect solution: give the Chinese the entire facility as collateral for all the debt we're never going to pay off.  No union problems in China, nosiree.

Chief_Illiniwek's picture

People who live near any government facility that have razor-wire fences need to move.  NOW.

(See the book "Full Body Burden" - a first person history of the Rocky Flats Nuclear Faciltiy.)

The Hanford story is not going to end well for anyone living near the Columbia river.

A Nanny Moose's picture

these people have raised 'safety' to really mean "lifetime job security".

This is the logical conclusion to the union story. Their primary function is create artificial scarcity of labor for typically low skill functions (i.e. changing bed pans of ornery, senile residents of staph delivery institution, dumping of small containers of garbage in to larger containers of garbage, for the purpose of carting it off out of sight and out of mind.)

Silver Garbage Man's picture

Imagine how many nuke site problems we will have in 20 years. This aint going to be fun. We are fucked.

H E D G E H O G's picture

:"Houston, we have a problem", over..............

:(expletive!), garbled.........

:"Houston dammit, we have a MAJOR problem here!", over..............

:okay! okay! (expletive), garbled..............."We have the rescue shuttle ready for launch, right after lunch. It'll be piloted by Benny the Chimp, loaded to the gills with FRNS and a few bananas."

:Thanks Houston, thought we were 'gonners there for awhile. over.....................

AldoHux_IV's picture

As Krugman would say: "the gdp accretion should leak into 3Q data, nothing to worry about."

McMolotov's picture

What do lady parts have to do with it?

A Nanny Moose's picture

Sadly that's only the beginning. It is followed by afterbirth, and roughly 18 years of indentured servitude.

francis_sawyer's picture

 ". Ron Wyden of Oregon said earlier this week
that he shares their concerns about the integrity of the tanks, but that
he wants more scientific information to determine it's the correct way
to spend scarce money."


Sure Wyden ~ Hire a team of Rosenburgs, Schwartzes, & Katzenbergs & pay them a couple of million each to produce a report, then get Bernanke & Greenspan to print the money for it... Let Blankfein handle the IPO for the Weintraub company who eventually gets the contract... When it all goes tits up in the end, the Blumenburg Law firm can help [themselves to 33% of] the poor victims & their settlements... Dr. Feinstein will take of their medical needs at his Beth Sinai medical practice...

Seasmoke's picture

+1......Do NOT ever settle down Francis !!!!

francis_sawyer's picture

There are more than one form of 'confetti' paper...


& there are experts who know how to create useless forms of one paper, then push it around the table to make other forms of paper...

Many have probably recently heard the story about the Johns Hopkins gynecologist who was caught videotaping his patients... The greedy Baltimore lawyers are going to have a field day with law suits... Guess who's going to end up paying?... You & your health insurance premiums...

shovelhead's picture

Wanna buy a never used foreskin?

WillyGroper's picture

While a heeb is not necessarily a Zionist, ur funny!

francis_sawyer's picture

It's why I get pissed that every time a criticizm is laid out, someone immediately tries to divert the attention by hyperspacing over to 'Zionism'...


Sure, there are evil planners out there, but this ain't no evil plan... It's pure, bread & butter, everyday nepotism, which targets 'power nodes' in a patient & systematic way to achieve wealth & power [FOR DOING NOTHING]...

It's fucking death by a thousand paper cuts & it whizzes straight past most people's stream of consciouness... Why?... Easy... Because people have been trained to worship money... You don't even necessarily have to be a jew to participate [just as long as you demonstrate the same requisite characteristic of MONEY WORSHIP & operate within that system]... 

S5936's picture

Frances i call BINGO ! , on that analysis.

A Nanny Moose's picture

All to clean up a mess created by Einsteins, Oppenheimers, Wigners, and Szilards, in order to check the power of the Bolsheviks, and Mensheviks. FFS, even Stalin was just a Jew for Jebus.

Midas's picture


maxw3st's picture

Just 2 quintillion dollar death stars would only lead to destructive competition between the 2 crews. We need at least 6 death stars, so there's room for an amicable, community-like atmosphere between all involved.

akak's picture

Environmental radioactive contamination is merely transitory (on a timeline of tens of thousands of years).

tom a taxpayer's picture

And those glass logs can keep me warm and light my cabin for tens of thousands of years. Yeeah! I will be living large off the grid.

Come on baby light my fire! The Doors

edb5s's picture

Haha "off the grid."  Nice, +1.

Jendrzejczyk's picture

Pleasant to see you Ak.



(choking back tears)

akak's picture

And you as well Jendrzejczek!

(A name that only a Pole could love --- or pronounce!)

McMolotov's picture

Does this nuclear reservation have radioactive indians and glowing casino chips?

Monedas's picture

Monday night quarterbacking .... it wasn't easy winning the cold war .... to make the world safe for Obama .... was it worth it ?    We won the war .... only to lose the peace .... we need to turn history around .... and rediscover the infinite wisdom of Capitalism .... it makes things work .... and gives you an honest feedback .... of reality .... not opium dreams .... we have nothing to fear except mind rot Socialism .... of cowardly, cynical, evil politcal pandering .... death to the Socialist scum .... enemies of humanity ! 

hugovanderbubble's picture

Time for Lightbridge LTBR- THORIUM

A Nanny Moose's picture

That which does not produce weapons grade material, is not in the best interest of those in government, who must use fear to control their subjects, since they otherwise serve no productive function in society.

Bunga Bunga's picture

Guys, in 50,000 years we will laugh about this.

akak's picture


Hey E_, sorry I wasn't around three weeks ago to celebrate the shitcanning of our beloved Kitco bankster apologist and anti-gold propagandist extraordinaire, Jon "gold is in a bubble, but not a bull market" Nadler.  Too bad that Kitco's repudiation of that smug, condescending, arrogant liar and asshole was six years overdue.

e_goldstein's picture

Hey Akak,

Agree with you on Nadler, although looks like Kitco is still performing dirty tricks despite Jonny's departure.

scroll down to where it says "Peter Hug."

Gotta run, take it easy.

akak's picture

I tend to agree with you, E_.

After reading several of his articles, both past and recent, I have to conclude that Peter Hug may very well be Jon Nadler lite.

e_goldstein's picture

(they would have different writers if they had any product to sell)