It’s hard to imagine, but the most contaminated site in North America just got worse. We knew that the 70-year-old storage tanks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation were leaking radioactive sludge.
But now, The Associated Press is reporting that at least one of the newer, double-walled tanks is leaking, six have serious construction flaws and 13 others have been compromised.
In other words, the Hanford boondoggle continues, and the potential danger to people and the environment along the Columbia River intensifies.
The federal Department of Energy has proven itself absolutely incompetent to clean up Hanford.
The state of Washington sued the federal agency in 2010 over previously missed deadlines for emptying the 177 underground tanks stewing with radioactive sludge. The lawsuit was resolved by a legally binding consent decree that set deadlines for DOE to clean up 19 tanks, most of which the DOE has missed.
Since then, the problems have continued. Leaking tanks, missed deadlines and shoddy design and construction have cost taxpayers about $2 billion per year.
Of course, at the heart of the matter is political foot-dragging — by Congress and President Barack Obama — on finding a permanent home for the nation’s 70,000 metric tons of toxic ooze that has accumulated at 121 sites in 39 states.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson should consider a new lawsuit related to the latest revelation. Maybe that will get the federal government’s attention.