Radioactive Plutonium Detected In Air Near Hanford Nuclear Facility

Tyler Durden's picture

Just ten days after the emergency at Washington's Hanford nuclear facility in early May, when a tunnel collapse prompted concerns about radioactive waste fallout as we described then in "'Serious Situation' After Tunnel Collapse At WA Nuclear Facility; Evacuation Ordered, No-Fly Zone In Place", we reported that the U.S. Department of Energy was scrambling to deal with a second emergency, when signs emerged that a massive underground double shell nuclear waste holding tank may also be leaking. As reported then, the tank in question - AZ 101 - was put into service in 1976, with a life expectancy of 20 years. Through 2017, it has been holding hot, boiling radioactive and chemically contaminated waste for 41 years.

As a reminder, prior to this second leak, on May 9 workers found a 20 by 20 foot cave in of a tunnel used to store highly radioactive and chemically contaminated equipment from the Cold War-era. Worse still, as The Wall Street Journal reported at the time, a worker’s clothing was exposed to radioactive contamination at the site, in what Gov. Jay Inslee called an “alarming incident” that should prompt federal officials to expedite their cleanup of the decommissioned facility. Detection equipment was then used to check for contamination that might have become airborne and adhered to the workers.

The radioactive material was found in three spots: on a worker's shoe, his shirt, and his pants in the knee area. According to workers in the field, the contaminated items were removed, bagged and appropriately disposed of.

Following these incidents, all newsflow involving Hanford and its erratic leaks of radioactive material faded away, even as concerns grew that leaks at the radioactive facility were not being addressed.

In retrospect, the concerns were justified because according to KATU2, on Tuesday health officials confirmed low plutonium levels in the air near the Hanford nuclear reservation.

State of Washington's Department of Health's (DOH) workers analyzed samples taken June 8, 2017 and detected levels of contamination near the Rattlesnake Barricade, according to Hanford officials.

Health officials collected the samples following an airborne release of radioactive particles during demolition of the highly contaminated facility. As reported at the time, on June 8, in yet another incident at Hanford, employees in the Plutonium Finishing Plant (PFP) were told to take cover inside the facility as a precaution after an air monitor alarmed. The monitor went off in a demolition area as crews were demolishing part of the PFP. About 350 Hanford workers took cover according to Hanford news.

While the DOH has reported that "contamination levels were very low and do not pose a health risk", the general public - still on edge from the May and June incidents - has little if any confidence left in the official narrative involving the threats posed by Hanford.

The Department of Energy and the DOH are investigating these findings. So far, they have not determined the cause.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
apoplectic query's picture

Now how would that happen!!???

rubiconsolutions's picture

Who needs North Korea when we have .gov to lay waste to the American landscape?

Mustafa Kemal's picture

"Now how would that happen!!???"

Yeah, 20 year design, after 41 years of use. Filled with hottttttt

Whod a thunk it?

veritas semper vinces's picture

Infrastructure collapse,pension funds collapse,retail net collapse,student debt about to blow,mortgages ready to burst,economy busted,I won't even touch the debt,budget,sanctions all around...

What to do,what to do?

I know.We need a new war,a beautiful,biggg one.Any candidate to save Jewmerica?

auricle's picture

The disturbing thing is the storage tanks are in as bad of shape as the sign posting in this article.

peddling-fiction's picture

You would think they have a budget for WD-40

Forest for the Trees's picture

Rule #1 to working maintenance: if it moves and it ain't suppossed to, use duct tape.  If it ain't movin' and it's suppossed to, use WD-40.

Mustafa Kemal's picture

"The disturbing thing is the storage tanks are in as bad of shape as the sign posting in this article."

The sign says it right there, neglect

Sky flyer's picture

Just like fuckushima, nothing to see here folks. Just move along.

Son of Captain Nemo's picture

When you finally realize that the deranged lunatics running "you" after 9/11 ( 3/11 ( and now this ( ( Don't give a fuck about you or themselves!



Ignatius's picture

It's their psycho policy goal of "Full Spectrum Dominance," and they mean it.

goldoverbtc's picture

Kim Jong Un used an underground mini nuke there, bomb his ass!


Ms No's picture

Government officials are never held accountable for anything.  Whoever signed off or allowed that temporary tank to store radioactive waste for this long should be put in handcuffs immediately.  Every single scientist and government employee involved in the intentional disbursement experiments at Hanford back in the day should be arrested, if any of them are still alive.  There should be constant hearings and investigations and until every last on of those pricks is found. 

The taxpayer gets radiated and then has to pay for cleanup.  This is why our founders didn't allow for secret government agencies.  We have psychopathic madmen at the helm of everything with no oversight and complete immunity.  It might also be a good idea to take away the pardon because the one time you get to nail of these banking oligarch agents they get off, like with Scooter Libby.


Doom Porn Star's picture

I agree with removing the pardon.

They all expect each other to cover their asses and so commit all manner of crimes that they would never commit if they really had any fear of man or God.

Thrash's picture

Amen to that. If we paid for it, you can't restrict our access to it. I'm pretty sure that's what that rotting old sign says.

Dan'l's picture

"So far, they have not determined the cause." And being the government they never will discover the cause

Utopia Planitia's picture

Hanford could have been cleaned up decades ago had it not become an eternal rallying point for demoncrats, environmentalists, and labor unions.  None of those groups want it to end because then they would have to find another "thing" to be against. (in the case of labor unions a way to milk $$Billions$$ out of the taxpayer)  We had technology and processes to finish that project well developed in the early 80's but oh no, we can't have that! (I worked extensively on that project until I got fed up with the political hot-potato dance that made it clear things would never progress.)

Cluster_Frak's picture

do i hear: graaaaaaaveeeeeee train? more money for the corrupt dems, unions and the scum of the earth

Mikeyyy's picture

That is complete and utter bullshit. The amount of money necessary to "clean up" Hanford has never been allocated. Even today, the annual budget of the DOE is $30 billion. The whole DOE. Hanford gets a tenth of that.

It would take untold billions more to actually clean it up. There are 56 millions gallons of high-level waste. 56 million. And what you might ask is "high-level waste"? Stuff that if you're exposed to for even a few seconds is a fatal dose.

So think about it ZH'ers. How much money do you think it would take to clean up that much waste? Think $3 billion a year is enough? And think about this, do you want Rick Perry in charge of this department?

BrownCoat's picture

@ Mikeyyy,

You are saying it will take $30 billion times 10 to "clean up" nuclear waste. Define clean up. How are you going to fix nuclear waste with a half-life of say 24,000 years?!!

Fuking govt wants more money for a disaster it created and has no intention of fixing. With any luck, these govt fuks can spend their entire career doing "clean up."

Bobbyrib's picture

"Fuking govt wants more money for a disaster it created and has no intention of fixing. With any luck, these govt fuks can spend their entire career doing "clean up."


I would like to welcome you to the 21st century.

YourAverageJoe's picture

You have a hard on for Rick Perry.

Did he fuck your wife or sumptin?


Cluster_Frak's picture

you heard it, looooooow plutonium levels (enough to give you cancer). now on your bikes and off you go nothing to see here.

Handful of Dust's picture

Just drink more Round Up and they wont have to worry about the radiation risks anymore.

konadog's picture

Brawndo with electrolytes. It's got what plants crave.

Ricki13th's picture

Quick start a war with NK so people won't look over here. 

sinbad2's picture

Sad that such a beautiful river as the Columbia river, will be toxic for a hundred thousand years.

Mikeyyy's picture

Sorry pal, you're too optimistic by millions of years. The half-life of plutonium is 4 1/2 million years. So you were off by 4.4 million years.

Here's the real reality. "They simply dumped 120 million gallons of high-level waste, and another 444 billion gallons of contaminated liquid, into the ground. They piled uranium (half-life: 4.5 billion years) into unlined pits near the Columbia River. They dug 42 miles of trenches to dispose of solid radioactive waste—and left no good records of what’s in the trenches."

And ladies and gentlemen, Donald fucking Trump put Rick Perry in charge of the cleanup. Thanks, you assholes. You proud of yourselves?

dlweld's picture

The condition of the Hanford warning sign certainly inspires confidence that things are being well taken care of here.

Megaton Jim's picture

Move it to Detroit, Ferguson, Baltimore..........

Golden Showers's picture

I rode my bike past a really nice nuclear power plant around Rainier, Oregon called the Trojan NPP back in '05. Nice little place out there. An awesome place to have a picnic. Little water reactor over here, yummy blackberries over there. Lots of green. Actually, riding up on that scared the shit out of me. Off a little two lane back road and all of a sudden there's this huge fucking hyperbolide tower.

Here's one thing I come to figure on: if you can't read the sign to the Nuclear Reactor Entrance, best to move on.

Herdee's picture

The sign says it all about federal U.S. government incompetence. The level of stupidity is that of a retard.

Idaho potato head's picture

I guess the sphere at the top of the sign is meant to represent the earth.

Catahoula's picture

May be the source of recent heat wave and DNA mutated militant queers in the area. 

aloha_snakbar's picture

Awww... nothing to worry about, at least not until the Cascadia fault zone gets hit with a big earthquake in the next month or so. Then that would be a good time to worry...

Haitian Snackout's picture

I hope my Avatar is ok.  Damn.

I Write Code's picture

That radioactive plutonium is the worst kind.

divingengineer's picture

Somebody call Spinal Tap to do a Hanford Tour.

Rebelrebel7's picture

It's called a nuclear chain reaction. Once the process of nuclear fission starts, the only way to stop it, is nuclear fusion, which is explosive.

Rebelrebel7's picture

I can hear congress now, it was the Russians, it was the North Koreans, it was Yellowstone,  it was a meteor.

unsafe-space-time's picture

Govtard-speak: Low plutonium levels. Reality: planet killer levels 

LindseyNarratesWordress's picture

Ladies and Gentlemen, I PRAY-TO-CHRIST that I do not have to be the one to tell you, all, the fact-as-it-is, AND THAT YOU ALREADY KNOW THIS, but all that it takes is ONE MICROSCOPIC "HOT" PARTICLE OF PLUTONIUM TO GIVE A HUMAN-BEING A 100% CHANCE FOR LETHAL LUNG-CANCER.


This is a never-ending nightmare...




NB:  The size of that "hot" particle, for-the-record?  1/billionth-of-one-gram.



kudocast's picture

Spent Nuclear Fuel: A Trash Heap Deadly for 250,000 Years.  

Homo sapiens have been around about 250,000 years. The Ice Age was about 10,000 years ago.

Do the unelected bureaucrats that are running the nuclear industry, military, and agencies around the world really think they will be able to store radioactive waste safely for as long as homo sapiens have been on the planet earth?  They can't even safely store it for a few decades.  Fukushima dumps tons of radioactive material into the ocean all day every day.

Looks like everyone is fucked.

YourAverageJoe's picture

Don't worry, the plutonium decays at a regular rate....

In 240,000 years, it will be only half as deadly as today.


divingengineer's picture

The voice of reason.
Thank you.

JailBanksters's picture

Even with plain old Uranium

The US is using more Nuclear Fuel and storing Nuclear Waste faster than the Nuclear Waste can be rendered harmless.

And it growing at an exponetial rate, much like the US Debt.

In a thousand years, the US is going to swimming in Nuclear Waste.



SamEyeAm's picture

Welp, I guess now we know what it was.

This Mysterious Military Spy Plane Has Been Flying Circles Over Seattle For Days



Some of the comments in the other thread really show just how looney the consiparcy theorists are.

squid's picture

So let's see......

So it's "radioactive Plutonium" eh?


Is there any other kind of plutonium?


Just askin......


And while we're at it, another thought.

They guys at Los Almos put together the fat man, an implosion plutonium device, using nothing but garden tongs and none of them got cancer or radiation poisoning. They all lived to their seventies and eighties. So why was plutonium not lethally poisonous in 1945 but in 2017 it's lethally poisonous?


Just askin.



Moving and Grooving's picture

I've never been to Hanford, but I worked for a DOE contractor for a while, and one of the engineers told me this story.


Would have been in the 80's. He went to Hanford for a conference on storage safety. While the lecture was going on, a man in a lab coat could be seen through the windows emerging from a rooftop door, walking to a 'sealed / locked' storage tank, and dumping a beaker of liquid down the tank's vent mast. 


Some things never change.