Hanford nuclear-waste site is a big ol’ mess
The cleanup effort at the nuke-waste-riddled Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state is looking like one big fustercluck. The finish date has been delayed from 2011 to 2017 or later, extending the time that 53 million gallons of radioactive and toxic waste will sit in leak-prone tanks near the Columbia River. Sixty-seven of the 177 tanks have leaked already, seeping at least a million gallons of waste underground. This week, a watchdog group identified what it said were two more leaks the Department of Energy hadn’t yet publicly acknowledged. Taxpayers are currently forking over $1.4 million a day to build a facility to clean up the site and deal with the waste; the estimated final cost of the project has nearly tripled in the last six years to $11.3 billion. And as the price tag and problems grow, so does the likelihood that Congress or the DOE will seek cheaper or less safe solutions.