Australian news, and some related international items

$640 Billion and 56 years to clean up Hanford’s underground tanks of plutonium and other nuclear wastes.

Hanford begins 1st large-scale treatment of nuke tank wastes
, Feb. 2, 2022  By NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS, Seattle TimesThe Associated Press  SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Workers on a former nuclear weapons production site have started the first large-scale treatment of radioactive and chemical wastes from large underground storage tanks, a key milestone in cleaning up the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, the U.S. Department of Energy said Wednesday.Hanford for decades made plutonium for the nation’s nuclear arsenal and is the most radioactively contaminated site in the nation’s nuclear weapons complex. It was created by the Manhattan Project and made the plutonium for the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, at the end of the World War II……..

The newly operational system removes radioactive cesium and solids from waste stored in huge underground tanks at Hanford. The treated waste will be stored until it is sent to the nearby Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant, where it will be converted into a glass-like substance for long-term storage. That plant, under construction since 2002, comes online next year, the agency said……

Hanford contains approximately 56 million gallons of radioactive waste stored in 177 underground tanks, representing one of DOE’s largest environmental risks and most complex challenges. The tank waste is a result of nearly five decades of plutonium production that supported national security missions and helped end World War II, the DOE said.

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., called the news “a monumental step” in the cleanup of Hanford.

But it is one step.

Finishing the cleanup of Hanford, located near Richland in southcentral Washington, will cost an estimated $300 billion to $640 billion, and take until about 2078, according to a Department of Energy report published at the end of January.

The 580-square-mile (1,502-square-kilometer) Hanford site, located along the Columbia River, produced almost two-thirds of the plutonium for the nation’s nuclear weapons program from World War II through the Cold War.

DOE is spending about $2.5 billion annually on environmental cleanup of the wastes, plus contaminated buildings, soil and groundwater. But the estimated costs to finish most cleanup by 2078 would require much larger annual budgets.

This story has been corrected to show that treated waste will be stored in an underground tank, not special capsules.

February 3, 2022 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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