RICHLAND, Wash. – Inspectors at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation have found seven leaks in the site’s oldest double-walled radioactive waste storage tank.
Tank AY-102 was known since 2012 to have a slow leak from its inner shell into the space between its inner and outer walls.
The Tri-City Herald reports that the tank, which once held 744,000 gallons of waste, had been emptied of all but 19,000 gallons by February.
Then an inspection was done with video cameras.
A manager for the U.S. Department of Energy told the Hanford Advisory Board on Wednesday that a total of seven leaks were found.
The Energy Department says no waste is believed to have breached the outer shell to contaminate the environment.
Hanford for decades made plutonium for nuclear weapons and the wastes are left over.
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Tank AY-102 was the first double-shell radioactive waste storage tank constructed at Hanford. The tank was completed in 1970, and entered service in 1971.
Tank AY-102 construction records detail a tank plagued by first-of-a-kind construction difficulties and trial-and-error repairs. The result was a tank whose as-constructed robustness was much lower than intended by the double-shell tank designers
In 2012 inspection it was found, the Tank AY-102 leak volume was estimated to be between 190 to 520 gal. A significant portion of the liquid has evaporated, leaving about 20 to 50 gal of drying waste.
Of the 28 newer double-shelled tanks, AY-102 was already known to be leaking toxic sludge into the soil.
Mary Greeley News