nuclear waste | KUOW News and Information

nuclear waste

This spring, an underground train tunnel full of radioactive waste was discovered partially collapsed at the Hanford Site in southeast Washington state. Now, federal contractors are prepping the site to fill the unstable tunnel with grout. They’re planning to start Tuesday night.

Highway sign on a road entering the Hanford Site
Wikipedia Photo/Ellery (CC BY SA 3.0)/http://bit.ly/1LnhFqH

Jeannie Yandel speaks with Northwest News Network reporter Anna King about the continued problem of cleaning up the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Eastern Washington. The topic was in the news because John Oliver talked about the contaminated site on his satirical HBO show. 

Bill Radke talks to Anna King, a journalist with the Northwest News Network, about her reporting on the Hanford tunnel collapse, including why it happened and what it means for other nuclear waste storage sites at Hanford. 

About 90 minutes north of Stockholm lies an ancient defensive hillfort called Broborg. Northwest scientists are digging up and studying pieces of the ancient Swedish fort and trying to figure out how the structure has lasted around 2,000 years.

Updated at 5:45 p.m. ET

The Department of Energy has declared an emergency at a nuclear-contaminated site in Washington state, after soil caved in over a portion of a tunnel containing rail cars contaminated with nuclear waste.

"All personnel in the immediate area have been accounted for — they are safe — and there is no evidence of a radiological release," Destry Henderson, spokesperson for the Hanford site's emergency operations center, said in a brief statement on Facebook.

The U.S. Department of Energy issued an emergency alert Tuesday morning at the Hanford site north of Richland, Washington, after a tunnel at a radioactive cleanup site caved in. Workers at a former chemical processing plant were evacuated and thousands more across Hanford were directed to take shelter indoors.

State and federal officials said all workers were accounted for, there were no injuries and no indication of “release” of radioactivity into the environment. By early afternoon, the employees taking shelter were given permission to go home except those needed for emergency response.

Tuesday the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission scolded the Northwest’s only nuclear power plant. The NRC said the Columbia Generating Station in southeast Washington improperly packaged, mis-labeled and shipped too-hot radioactive waste.

The federal government Monday started up a special inspection at the Northwest’s only nuclear power plant. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, or NRC, is looking into why a shipment of low-level nuclear waste was mislabeled and too radioactive.

The Waste That Remains From Arming Nuclear Weapons

Dec 10, 2016

Hanford is the nation’s largest nuclear cleanup site, with 56 million gallons of radioactive waste sitting in old, leaky underground tanks just a few hours upriver from Portland. After more than 20 years and $19 billion dollars, not a drop of waste has been treated.

WATCH: Battle Ready - The Digital Documentary

There’s a huge building with a massive pool of water at the Hanford nuclear site in southeast Washington state. The water glows an eerie neon blue from an effect known as the Cherenkov Glow. The light comes from the decay of the nearly 2,000 highly-radioactive cesium and strontium capsules held in the pool.

Five years after an earthquake and tsunami damaged the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, Japanese authorities say a long-planned "ice wall" around the leaking facility can be turned on.

The underground refrigeration system that should create the frozen barrier was completed last month — more than a year behind schedule, The Associated Press reports.

About 10,000 people visit southeast Washington state’s Hanford Nuclear Reservation every year. And after a few hours on the bus, some are dazed like tourists who’ve seen one Italian cathedral too many.

On those tours, they have guides. But even folks who don’t come to Hanford’s physical site have a "tour guide" -- someone who can translate the language of Hanford and its nuclear legacy: Liz Mattson.

Federal officials are conducting an investigation after plutonium escaped off the Hanford nuclear site in Washington state. The plutonium is left over from a Cold War era factory at Hanford where plutonium was processed from a liquid into a solid form for bombs.

Wherever she was, she stood out for being half white, or half Japanese. Shirley Olinger will only whisper the racist names she was called as a girl.

In 1987, late in the Cold War, in a government reading room in Richland, Washington, a historian was studying newly released documents about the Hanford nuclear reservation. Then, a strange man approached her.

Imagine you are a parent, and that out of the blue, you get a letter from your child's school telling you not to worry — that they're ready to evacuate or shelter in place if an underground fire at a nearby landfill reaches radioactive waste on the same property.

That's pretty much what happened recently in suburban St. Louis.

Landfill fires are pretty common, but this one is different. It's only about a thousand feet away from nearly 9,000 tons of nuclear waste — and there's no barrier in between.

When you think of a nuclear meltdown, a lifeless wasteland likely comes to mind — a barren environment of strewn ashes and desolation. Yet nearly 30 years after the disaster at the nuclear reactor in Chernobyl, in the former Soviet Union, a very different reality has long since taken root.

In and around Chernobyl, wildlife now teems in a landscape long abandoned by humans. The area has been largely vacant of human life since 31 people died in the catastrophe and cleanup.

Part of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in eastern Washington.
Flickr photo/ Philo Nordlund

Kim Malcolm speaks with Anna King of Northwest News Network about the most recent lawsuit involving the Hanford nuclear site in eastern Washington.

A Hanford nuclear site whistleblower says he’s ready to get back to work. He settled his legal battle Wednesday for $4.1million.

The B reactor at Hanford.
Flickr Photo/Gary Paulson (CC BY ND 2.0)

Todd Mundt speaks with Northwest News Network correspondent Anna King about the past and present of the Hanford nuclear site in eastern Washington. 

In the West, there aren’t a lot of black woman geologists who specialize in uranium deposits and groundwater. Zelma Maine Jackson landed far from her home state of South Carolina, but drilled into life in the West.

An environmental cleanup company with engineering headquarters in Richland, Washington, has just flown its second water treatment system to Japan with a massive plane.

The Environmental Protection Agency intends to fine the U.S. Department of Energy up to $10,000 per week if radioactive waste just a stone's throw from the Columbia River isn’t cleaned up.

The state of Washington has ordered the federal government to start pumping out a leaking double-shell tank of waste at Hanford by September 1.

In Washington, D.C. Tuesday, Hanford whistleblowers Donna Busche and Walt Tamosaitis weren’t allowed to speak before a Senate hearing.