At Hanford, Radioactive Waste Just Keeps On Spreadin’

In this file photo taken June 13, 2017, the Plutonium Uranium Extraction Plant, right, stands adjacent to a dirt-covered rail tunnel, left, containing radioactive waste, amidst desert plants on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation near Richland, Wash. The U.S. Department of Energy said Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017, that workers have finished stabilizing the partially-collapsed tunnel containing radioactive wastes left over from the production of plutonium for nuclear weapons. CREDIT: AP PHOTO/NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS
The Plutonium Uranium Extraction Plant, right, stands adjacent to a dirt-covered rail tunnel, left, containing radioactive waste, amidst desert plants on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation near Richland, Wash. CREDIT: NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS

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Radioactive waste keeps spreading at a demolition site at Hanford. This week officials have found more contamination on a worker’s boot, on a work trailer and a personal vehicle. Now, a rental car that’s possibly contaminated has ended up in Spokane.

That rental car? It’s on a trailer headed back to the Tri-Cities for testing. 
Also this week, there’s been a reshuffling of managers at the Plutonium Finishing Plant. 
U.S. Department of Energy officials said they hope the change will better protect employees and the public from contamination.

Stephanie Schleif watches over the plant’s demolition for Washington State Department of Ecology. She’s concerned that DOE can’t keep contamination from popping up in unexpected places.

“We’re hoping sooner rather than later (the Department of Energy managers) have some answers for us” Schleif said.

The DOE convened an expert panel to suss out what’s gone wrong. They’ll also study how the demo project can start up safely again. Cleanup work on the old factory, and about 200 workers, have been idled since December.

Copyright 2018 Northwest News Network

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A new sign graces the entrance onto the Hanford site near Richland, Washington. CREDIT: ANNA KING

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