Monday, October 25, 2010

Closing Hanford Tanks: What's the big deal?

By Jeff Lyon, Tank Waste Storage Project, Nuclear Waste Program

On October 14, 2010, at the Hanford Advisory Board’s Tank Waste Committee meeting, we began discussing the communication process for closing the first tank farm at Hanford.

This is a really big deal, and here’s why:
  • Weapon production days are gone, and cleanup decisions are being made.

  • Hanford cleanup is expected to be completed in about 40 years at a cost of about $2 billion every year. About $ 300 million (15% of the total) is expected to be spent on the tank farms.

  • About half of the radioactive and hazardous waste at Hanford is stored in tanks that are up to 60 years old. The other half of the waste is in contaminated soil, some of which is in the tank farms.

  • Public input and involvement in the process will help guide our cleanup decisions. This is where you come in.
The first tank farm we hope to close is C-Farm, which has 16 of the 177 tanks. We hope to be finished with this in 2019. We will get as much of the waste out of the tanks as possible, do the necessary soil cleanup, and make sure final closure decisions protect human health and the environment.

Eight years may seem like a long time to get to closure. But to have the steps in place to prepare for that, we must have a closure decision by 2013. That’s just a little more than two years from now!

The Tri-Party Agreement (TPA) milestone for cleanup is there for us to stay on schedule. We don’t want to let it slide past. Other major milestones are shown on the TPA Timeline. That’s why we’re making such a big deal.

As always, I welcome your thoughts.

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