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A proposed natural gas pipeline under the Columbia River to central Hanford could save taxpayer money and reduce greenhouse gases.
But there also were concerns about safety, spreading Hanford contamination and affects on wildlife raised at a Department of Energy meeting Thursday night in Pasco to take comments on what should be considered in a proposed environmental study.
However, Daniel Serres of Columbia Riverkeeper said a planned pipeline of up to 20 inches is unreasonably large and increases the chances of problems when it is installed under the river.
Drilling also is more likely to fail the deeper the pipeline is installed, he said.
If drilling fails, mud can clog the river and damage salmon habitat, he said.
In addition, Franklin County property owners who might be affected, including at the staging area required for the drilling under the river, should have been personally invited to the meeting, Serres said.
reply to post by jadedANDcynical
This brings to mind the potential seismic activity in the area, especially the discussions in TrueAmerican's thread, "West Coast USA: Pay Attention, Cascadia May Be Ready to Rupture"
ANNA KING, BYLINE: Builders didn't have the final blueprints when they broke ground on Hanford's treatment plant about 10 years ago. They still don't. It's a sprawling complex of high-rise buildings growing out of the desert sagebrush and sand.
The $12 billion facility is a little more than half-built, but it's still being designed. Scott Samuelson oversees the project for the Department of Energy.
SCOTT SAMUELSON: Design build is the course that was selected a long time ago with how to do this.
KING: Now, it's not clear if design build was the best plan. The hope was the design-as-you-build would help clean up the 56 million gallons of radioactive sludge faster, but now, federal watchdog agencies are calling into question the way the project's been handled. They're worried about key components of the plant, like its pipes and mixing tanks.
RICHLAND, Wash. – Hanford Nuclear Reservation managers say they have contained a few drips of radioactive condensation found near a waste container.
Last week, someone doing routine monitoring recorded some gamma radiation from the area. The Department of Energy has applied a fixative to drips to prevent any of the radioactive particles from moving or becoming airborne.
"Our job is to make sure that the waste is stored safely and to test it all the time to make sure we are not seeing anything out the ordinary," says Cameron Hardy, a spokesman for the Department of Energy. "So this is a very routine thing for us to do and everything got taken care of."
The Department of Energy is asking that a Hanford whistle-blower lawsuit filed against it be dismissed.
Walter Tamosaitis, the former manager of research and technology at the Hanford vitrification plant, filed a lawsuit in Eastern Washington District U.S. Court in November.
He has alleged since summer 2010 that he was removed from the project for raising technical concerns that could affect the safe operation of the plant, which will process high-level radioactive waste for disposal. His employer, URS, says that is not why he was reassigned and that the change had been planned for some time because Tamosaitis' assigned work was coming to an end.
"DOE is dedicated to continual efforts at improving nuclear safety and nuclear safety culture at (the vit plant) and all its facilities," the Department of Justice said in a legal document. "But DOE's sincere commitment does not render it subject to suit by individuals it does not employ; nor does its commitment make it subject to remedies not available under law."
Among other relief sought, Tamosaitis wants a federal judge to order DOE to develop a plan that ensures DOE managers balance the need to meet deadlines with sound science, and to develop procedures to include in contracts to prevent employees from being pressured to take positions not based on scientific principles.
January 27, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Recently, a bipartisan subcommittee of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee heard compelling testimony from an employee of a government contractor who was removed from a government project for voicing concerns over safety. The hearing was held in conjunction with debate over a new bill that would solidify and even expand whistleblower protections for employees of government contractors.
RICHLAND, Wash. – Over the last two years we've brought you numerous stories about high-level whistleblowers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation's nuclear waste treatment plant. It's one of the largest environmental cleanup projects on Earth. Now, yet another top expert there is risking his career to speak openly. He says the plant's vessels and pipes — as they're designed now — will leak radioactive waste within their planned lifespan.
"I want to see us be successful," Alexander says. "And remove this problem that was created out here by people in my grandfather's generation."
"On a scale of 1 to 10, with the hardest metal being a 10, the one that can resist erosion the best being a 10, the metals that were selected for the plant are about a 2," he explains.
Here's why that's a problem: The sludge has a lot of heavy metals, abrasive particles and it's corrosive. It could eat holes in the metal. And Alexander says it could happen in the section of the plant that's sealed off from humans because it will be so radioactively hot.
These concerns are not Alexander's alone. Experiments run for plant contractor Bechtel showed much more erosion in far less time than predicted by other scientists.
What's more, the federal Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board recently issued a report outlining similar concerns with the pipes and vessels.
And the Department of Energy said in a statement, that it's aware of the concerns about pipe strength and continues to test the durability of the plant's materials.
But Alexander says he raised these issues years ago. Since then a lot of the pipes and vessels have been installed. Alexander says the longer project managers wait the more costly it will get to fix these issues.
"Everybody is saying everything is fine, everything is fine," he says. "Everything will be fine until we operate right?"
Two more purchasers for former Hanford contractor Fluor Hanford have reached settlement agreements for allegedly accepting kickbacks.
Both accepted gifts from Fast Pipe and Supply Inc. owned by Shane Fast, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Washington. Fast, who has been indicted, called the investigation of the gifts he gave "a witch hunt."
He did not believe there was a problem with the practice, he said.
Fast has been indicted in Eastern Washington District U.S. Court for allegedly paying $40,000 in kickbacks to Hanford employees purchasing goods for use on the federal project.
Fluor is a FORTUNE 500 company that delivers engineering, procurement, construction, maintenance (EPCM), and project management services to governments and clients in diverse industries around the world. Clients value Fluor's dependability, expertise, and safety to execute complex projects around the world.
So many technical issues now plague a $12.2 billion plant that's supposed to rid the Hanford nuclear reservation of millions of gallons of radioactive waste that contractors told a federal panel Thursday they can't say how much waste it ultimately will treat.
Even though the project is half-built, engineers acknowledged they still hadn't figured out how, once it is operational, they will keep waste stirred up so it doesn't spark a nuclear chain reaction.
But their answers still angered whistle-blowers who have complained that lead contractor Bechtel National and its subcontractors are way behind because their instinct has been to bury safety concerns — and punish those who raise them.
Without oversight by the safety board, Tamosaitis said, Bechtel "would have proceeded to build a plant that would not work."
Asked by the chairman of the safety board how much waste will fall into that category, Dale Knutson, the Department of Energy's project director, said it was still too soon to say.
"As a personal opinion, I'm still convinced a vast majority of the waste will be treatable," he said.
Before entering the shuttered Plutonium Finishing Plant at the Hanford Site, Jerry Long hangs his identification badge on a board outside the entrance, so rescue crews can easily figure out who’s inside, should it come to that. “This is a no-kidding hazardous category 2 nuclear facility,” says Long as he enters a brightly lit room furnished with rows of metal chairs and benches. The U.S. Department of Energy reserves that category for sites that might blow up, or, as they like to call it, experience a “criticality event.”