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Hanford, WA: Monunental Cleanup at Hanford Nuclear Waste Site

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posted on Feb, 5 2012 @ 01:28 AM
reply to post by NuminousCosmos

Its vitrification, I know because I have buddies that work at the site.

They get to make about twice what I make, but at least I don't have to worry as much about radiation.

I really do like it here, just wish they would take care of the problem. It definitely needs federal funds, as it was part of the defense of the nation.

posted on Feb, 5 2012 @ 01:35 AM
reply to post by calnorak

Thanks for the name.

posted on Feb, 5 2012 @ 09:13 AM
reply to post by jadedANDcynical

Your picture is incorrect because it shows Columbia Generating Station and two uncompleted power reactors. Power reactors during normal operation do not cause the same type of contamination as the weapons production reactors, which are actually located north west of Columbia Generating Station, right beside the river.
edit on 5/2/12 by C0bzz because: (no reason given)

posted on Feb, 5 2012 @ 09:40 AM
reply to post by C0bzz

Thank you for he correction, would that place the storage site up or down river from the crops?

Also, do you happen to know what design this reactor is, and/or how long it has been in operation?

Zooming in on the reactor, one can see several large domed structures (much bigger than the reactor. Holding itself, which is pretty clearly evident) that have what appear to be a ring of fans in the tops of them. I am guessing these would be Spent Fuel Pools nd those games are heat exhangers bleeding off the decay heat from the used fuel.
edit on 5-2-2012 by jadedANDcynical because: Duh, read the links dummy (meaning me)

posted on Feb, 5 2012 @ 10:13 AM
reply to post by jadedANDcynical

Don't know where exactly on the site the really contaminated parts are.

They are cooling "towers". Remember most power stations are heat engines, they work on temperature differential. Cooling towers are used so the amount of water withdrawn from the river is reduced and so hot water does not thermally pollute the river, which can hurt fish. These ones are low-profile, probably to lower the visual impact. I don't think they are required to cool the spent fuel or the reactor when shutdown, I'm pretty sure another system does that.

The spent fuel pool is located in one of the reactor buildings, and the dry casks are here.
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posted on Feb, 5 2012 @ 10:31 AM
Here's a map of the Hanford site, with the areas of importance labelled:

A description of the areas labelled (and more) can be found here.

(also it appears I was wrong in part, one of the "most challenging remediation projects" of hanford is right next to the energy northwest facility, the "618-10 and 618-11 Burial Grounds".
edit on 5/2/12 by C0bzz because: (no reason given)

posted on Feb, 5 2012 @ 10:40 AM
reply to post by DontTreadOnMe

Everyone thinks they're the "good guys", but when you kill many civilians in the course of the "good fight", sh!+ happens.

The product of the Hanford site was Plutonium, bred by the breeder reactors. It was the fuel for the 1st plutonium bomb.:

The original target for the bomb was the city of Kokura, but obscuring clouds necessitated changing course to the alternative target, Nagasaki. "Fat Man" was dropped from the B-29 bomber Bockscar, piloted by Major Charles Sweeney of the 393d Bombardment Squadron, Heavy, and exploded at 11:02 AM (JST), at an altitude of about 1,650 feet (500 m), with a yield of about 21 kilotons of TNT or 88 terajoules.[3] Because of poor visibility due to cloud cover, the bomb missed its intended detonation point, and damage was somewhat less extensive than that in Hiroshima. An estimated 39,000 people were killed outright by the bombing at Nagasaki, and a further 25,000 were injured.[4] Thousands more died later from related blast and burn injuries, and hundreds more from radiation illnesses from exposure to the bomb's initial radiation. The bombing raid on Nagasaki had the third highest fatality rate in World War II[5] after the nuclear strike on Hiroshima[6][7][8][9] and the March 9/10 1945 fire bombing raid on Tokyo.

Wikipedia link

Now for the Karma: the Fat Man bomb produced tens of thousands of civilian deaths in Japan, many through burns and slow painful cancers after the initial 39,000 civilian deaths.

Now, the Columbia river system, one of the major U.S. river systems and it's surrounding regions, is probably one of the most radioactively contaminated areas in the U.S., if not the world:

A huge volume of water from the Columbia River was required to dissipate the heat produced by Hanford's nuclear reactors. From 1944 to 1971, pump systems drew cooling water from the river and, after treating this water for use by the reactors, returned it to the river. Before being released back into the river, the used water was held in large tanks known as retention basins for up to six hours. Longer-lived isotopes were not affected by this retention, and several terabecquerels entered the river every day. These releases were kept secret by the federal government.[4] Radiation was later measured downstream as far west as the Washington and Oregon coasts.[45]
Wikipedia Hanford Site

What we won't be able to quantify is how many U.S. deaths and destuction of wildlife and habitat, should be attributed to the deliberate and "accidental" release of radionuclides into the water and air around the Hanford plant.

ETA: there are more sites around the U.S. I used to work at one, a Uranium mining operation that contaminated ground water over a large area.
edit on 5-2-2012 by 1SawSomeThings because: more info.

posted on Feb, 5 2012 @ 11:19 AM
reply to post by calnorak

Im sorry, but with the fact that shooting a rocket into space has a greater the 0% chance of something going wrong, I wouldn't want to deal with that kind of mess.

That's why this mass of leaking poison is still there.

There is absolutely nothing in this world that has a 0% chance of failure... nothing. As long as we wait for such a solution, the area will become more and more contaminated... there is greater than a 99% chance of that. The chances of something going wrong on a rocket shot toward the sun is probably less than 5%, and the probability of it happening within a close enough range of the Earth to be a problem for us is minuscule from that.

Estimated chance of failure of 1% versus an estimated chance of continued deterioration of over 99%. I'll take those odds.


posted on Feb, 5 2012 @ 11:25 AM
The bottom line is, Hanford is a fail...big time. Maybe occupy can get something done. The US gov will ALWAYS be in denial. Who is monitoring the data? There ya go.

posted on Feb, 5 2012 @ 12:05 PM
reply to post by Gridrebel

I'm sorry, but there won't be any "occupy" here.... Hanford is big money to a lot of people here, and you couldn't get close enough to make a difference.

There have been people for years trying to get the truth about the "contamination" levels, but of course that is "classified" information, and they only will tell us what they think we should hear.

Here is a link to the local newspaper regarding links to Hanford.... some of them have a gallery so you can see exactly what it looks like, and some show what they are doing at the Vit Plant.

I do know for fact that there have been mutated animals all over the place here... frogs with extra legs, deer with extra heads and limbs etc.... and no, sorry, don't have pics, but it still happens

edit on 5-2-2012 by freespirit1 because: (no reason given)

edit on 5-2-2012 by freespirit1 because: (no reason given)

posted on Feb, 5 2012 @ 12:25 PM
The problem with Hanford is that it was build during the start of the nuclear age - during the second world war and during the cold war. It was built largely in secret, designed to produce material for nuclear weapons as efficiently as possible - with little to no regard to the environment. The world is a different place now, such a facility is no longer needed, but obviously now we are left with the environmental mess that it has left over.

It's not just a question of what the final method of disposal is, but how the area itself is decontaminated. For example:

Cleaning up the River Corridor is a huge task. In fact, the River Corridor Closure Project is the nation’s largest environmental cleanup closure project. There are more than 760 solid and liquid waste sites associated with the project. The soil underneath many of the waste sites also may be contaminated and must be cleaned up along with the material which caused the contamination in the first place. Above ground, there are more than 1,000 structures which must be removed. Some of the facilities are contaminated themselves, which means that before any demolition is done, steps have to be taken to ensure that neither the crews, nor the environment will be harmed during the work.

Crews continue to search for new technologies which can facilitate the removal of the semi-solids and solids out of these storage tanks. This is required since the original pumps inside the tanks were designed to remove only liquid waste. What’s left inside the tanks today are saltcakes, a material with the consistency of wet beach sand, and sludges. Also inside are wastes which resemble peanut butter, small broken icebergs, foam, or whitish crystals. None of these wastes are easily removed.

It's challenging. And expensive. Point is, merely having a plan to fire it into space or bury it in the ground won't remove radioactive material from those tanks nor will it fix the groundwater or any of the other problems at Hanford.

In the end vitrification then geological disposal seems like the best idea - which was why it was chosen. Also firing it into space would be too risky and expensive: a 1% chance of failure per launch is too high because the consequences would be large, since there is so much waste the number of launches required would also be large, therefore the risk increases and the cost goes up.
edit on 5/2/12 by C0bzz because: (no reason given)

posted on Feb, 5 2012 @ 12:35 PM
reply to post by TheRedneck

Assuming we could engineer a launch vehicle to within acceptable risk levels, there is still this tiny issue:

Originally posted by Wertwog


Do you have any idea how much nuke fuel weighs? 1(ONE) typical spent fuel cask weighs 151tonnes. Do you know what kinda ummmmmph (thrust) you need to send 151 tons into space? The more weight you are sending up the more fuel you need to send it up, the more fuel you are carrying the more weight you have. At a certain point, you reach negative returns... you can't carry enough fuel to reach escape velocity. For comparison, the usual max payload for the space shuttle including crew and toothpaste was about 23 tonnes. Now look at this little fact:

With 134 missions, and the total cost of US$192 billion (in 2010 dollars), this gives approximately $1.5 billion per launch over the life of the program.

Now that includes Nasa's buildings, paperclips and janitors, but most of the cost of a launch is the fuel. FUEL. Now, given your payload, assuming you could even reach escape velocity, which you couldn't, you would need approx 8x the thrust/cost etc. Now, that's just for ONE CASK. 12 billion $$ for one cask. Annnd.... what if the space vehicle does a Columbia on it's way up?....Hmmm. Wa Wa Wa... flush.

We need to get beyond dumping our problems on future generations and think of energy sources that are sustainable.


[edit] On second thought, you guys probably weren't serious, all good, I'm probably just coming down from a sugar rush... carry on!

edit on 31-10-2011 by Wertwog because: mini coffee crisp and gummy bears.... ohhh sore belly!

[edit] Maybe the Atlantians will take it. Or send it to Antarctica, nobody lives there anyways...
edit on 31-10-2011 by Wertwog because: anybody got a antacid?

Wert's post on page 1108 of Fukushima mega-thread

Now, I know you probably know all of this so I'm sure you probably have given the problem some thought and I'm curious as to your thinking on this. Were you seriously considering the idea (space disposal) or were you metely making the point that we need to do something and that soon?

posted on Feb, 5 2012 @ 01:01 PM
reply to post by jadedANDcynical

A little of both, actually.

The cost to treat this much waste is going to be astronomical no matter what we do. As far as I know, we have only three potential alternatives:
  • Neutron bombardment to artificially shorten the effective lifetime of the elements under controlled conditions,

  • Removal of the offensive material from the planet, or

  • Continual maintenance of the material for an effective eternity.

Of the three, only the last one is not still in the theoretical stage. Of course, it is this last option that is also the problem. So it appears we have very few reliable options left.


posted on Feb, 5 2012 @ 01:13 PM
My oldest brother was an Engineer at Hanford. He said there would be radiation leaking into the Columbia River for thousands of years.

Unfortunately, he is no longer with us. He died from cancer. His family was awarded a small settlement, due to findings his cancer could be linked to his work.

May he rest in peace. May we find a way to contain the radiation.

posted on Feb, 5 2012 @ 01:21 PM
reply to post by zeta55

I am so sorry for your loss.... words can't describe what it is like to lose a sibling.

You are absolutely correct, we do need to find a way to contain and maintain.

posted on Feb, 5 2012 @ 01:24 PM
The primary concern at the moment is removing the radioactive waste from the environment so that it is not contaminating more land or exposing the public to radiation. This could be done by cleaning up the site then simply storing the vitrified waste on the surface in steel and concrete containers (similar to dry casks for spend nuclear fuel) until it can be disposed of in a geological repository or be transmuted.

The US already has a geological repository that has accepted some waste from Hanford (for defense waste only, iirc):

Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
The community is supportive: Nuke Us: The Town That Wants America's Worst Atomic Waste.

I am also completely convinced storing nuclear waste in a geological repository can be done safely: Perspectives on the Back-end of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle: Present and Future.
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posted on Feb, 7 2012 @ 08:42 AM
Here is an article I found in the Herald this morning:

Plan developed to clean up highly radioactive Hanford spill By Annette Cary, Tri-City Herald Hanford officials have settled on a plan to clean up what may be the most highly radioactive spill at the nuclear reservation. It depends on calling back into service the 47-year-old, oversized hot cell where the spill occurred to protect workers from the radioactive cesium and strontium that leaked through the hot cell to the soil below. Radioactivity in the contaminated soil, which is about 1,000 feet from the Columbia River, has been measured at 8,900 rad per hour. Direct exposure for a few minutes would be fatal, according to Washington Closure. Washington Closure Hanford has issued a notice telling companies that it plans to request bids in April for a major project that will call for an intensive design effort. While many of Washington Closure's bid awards go to small companies, this bid request will have no restrictions as the Hanford contractor looks for a company with the experience to handle a complex assignment. The winning subcontractor will be required to design remotely operated equipment to be installed inside the hot cell. Using the equipment, it must take out the hot cell's floor, dig up the contaminated soil beneath it and transfer the contaminated soil to nearby hot cells to be grouted in place. Read more here:

posted on Feb, 7 2012 @ 10:14 AM
reply to post by C0bzz

That Forbes article is interesting and highlights many of the problems being faced and different wash of addressing them.

A couple of things stand out:

One person who has worked on both Yucca and WIPP says the titanium solution would negate a primary objective of a repository: ensuring that people leave it alone. “If it’s 1,000 years from now and the U.S. doesn’t exist, and I don’t know what that titanium is protecting, I’m gonna go get it.” In contrast, even if future generations wanted to dig down a half-mile, there’s nothing at WIPP worth poking around for.

Page 2 of "Nuke Us: The Town That Wants America's Worst Atomic Waste"

Now, 1000 years might seem like a long time but in relation to the halflife of some of these byproducts, it's only a blink. In the time frame we need to consider that not only might the U.S. be gone, but language may have drifted so far from what it is today that any written warnings would be unreadable.

The very fact that these things have to be kept safe and secure for time frames in which civilizations could rise and fall makes how we deal with the waste products one of, if not THE most important issues in the entire discussion around nuclear power.

We've talked about Thorium Liquid Sodium (don't know if they are using Thorium there) reactors a bit in my thread about the Monju reactor in Japan, but it's obvious in that case that it hasn't gone too well. There is ample evidence of corruption and negligence in that project to warrant a serious consideration to scrap the entire thing.

I've been looking at Generation IV nuclear systems and am intrigued by the possibilities they represent, especially on the back end of the fuel cycle. Some of them look to be too dangerous to pursue and/or costly to adequately engineer real safety margins into, but TheRedneck probably has some ideas there.

And then there's this:

Since 2009 Pennsylvania has seen gas-drilling jobs explode from 60,000 to 160,000 and related economic activity jump from $4.7 billion to $13 billion a year. North Dakota has an unemployment rate of just 3.5% (lowest in the U.S.), and in the past year has seen oil and gas employment increase 39% and construction jobs 20%. In contrast, in New York State, where the state budget is an annual apocalypse and the economy is ever more beholden to Wall Street’s boom-and-bust cycles, politicians still can’t muster the will to shoulder the risks and allow gas fracking, though studies show it would create 40,000 jobs in some of the state’s most depressed regions—for 30 years. “California could solve its fiscal problems if it unlocked its oil and gas, but just try to permit anything in Santa Barbara,” says Kotkin.

Page 4 of "Nuke Us"

Drill baby, drill!!!

Let's get Fracking...


reply to post by freespirit1

Thanks for keeping up with the local stories! I have found that this will lead to a muh more in depth understanding of a situation than by only relying in national outlets.

The part about the contaminated soil so close tithe river makes me think of all those crops which are possibly irrigated by that water...

edit on 7-2-2012 by jadedANDcynical because: Quick correction of "Thoriumiquid Sodium..."

posted on Feb, 7 2012 @ 04:10 PM
reply to post by TheRedneck

No solution, as you rightly pointed out, is without risk. But to do nothing poses an even more long term risk.

There is no choice here. To do nothing is to doom thousands to illness' that I wouldn't wish upon my worst enemy. ...and some of the most productive crop land in the NW is in danger, along with wildlife.

How far, once in the aquifer does the contamination flow? Hundreds of miles? Thousands of miles once in the ocean?

I have a personal stake in this, as my mother was a "downwinder". It doesn't matter the why of Hanford. It's there, and no amount of blame placing, or cursing is going to change that. What is needed is doing.

If we get so bogged down with our abiding need to find a scapegoat to place the blame upon, the problem will just continue to grow, possibly beyond our ability to easily fix.

The fix, though expensive and time consuming, is easy. The contaminated soil is scooped up, put into safe storage facilities until such time as a way is found to safely deal with the radioactivity. Redneck pointed out what those are.

I needed this reminder...Hanford had slipped a little out of focus. It's back into focus now. I wrote six letters to various congress critters over the past couple of days. I have a day off tomorrow, and I'm going to make some phone calls. Yes, I'll get brushed off... again... and again... and again. I don't care. As I stake is very personal...

posted on Feb, 8 2012 @ 08:27 AM
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