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Hanford, WA Nuclear Site on Brink of Disaster

The more things change, the more they stay the same. My first "political activism" as an adult was to try to get Hanford shut down. Here I am decades later, back where I started. This plant was a bad design 30 years ago, and guess what? It is STILL a bad design. And, it is still utterly immoral to dump radioactive waste on our descendants.

3 days ago: King 5 News: Nuclear board warns of Hanford tank explosion risk

"State and federal officials have long known that hydrogen gas could build up inside the tanks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, leading to an explosion that would release radioactive material. The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board recommended additional monitoring and ventilation of the tanks last fall, and federal officials were working to develop a plan to implement the recommendation."

Got that? LAST FALL the Fed starting "working on a plan."

Yesterday: "Unexpected gas releases"

KING 5 News has learned there’s been a series of unexpected hydrogen gas releases from a tank holding radioactive waste at Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

Confidential sources say it began on March 16 and lasted for several days, much longer than usual, and they worry a single spark could have set off an explosive release of radioactivity.

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I worked at this site, which is the site the H-Bomb came from, for many years. And guess what? I am still here. OMG there is gas escaping into the air! Well isn't that what you are asking for? If that place was going to blow it would have blown a long time ago. FYI - King News would not lower them selves by being seen in Eastern Washington.

Joined the Liberty Movement in Anchorage, Alaska, 1977. Ron Paul supporter since 1983.
In Liberty from the Pacific Northwest.

ecorob's picture

You are over-simplifying the event.

What we want is ventilation, yes. What we do NOT want is ventilation with radioactive gas.

You may be there for now but if another "event" occurs you won't be there for long. Better you than me.

I, actually, question the validity of your statements as you make no RELEVANT positional remarks, just conjecture. You also refer to it as "that place". If you were actually there I submit you would not refer to in third person, so to speak. Tell me what you, "we", as in you are there, doing to mitigate this event?

its 'cos I owe ya, my young friend...
Rockin' the FREE world in Tennessee since 1957!
9/11 Truth.

Excuse Me

I will remove "That" and change to "This". As far as "being here" as I am still alive. I was there from the early 80's until the DOE shut it down because of missed informed people like you. As a matter of fact I grew up within 50 miles of there. As far as "no RELEVANT"? HA! The "event" has never happen there. The "event" was in the USSR.
You can talk it but you have never walked it.

Joined the Liberty Movement in Anchorage, Alaska, 1977. Ron Paul supporter since 1983.
In Liberty from the Pacific Northwest.

Answer to your questions.

The OP sounds a little fishy to me too. I'll answer your ventilation question though.

I can tell you that the gases let off through passive ventilation (i.e. hydrogen, nitrogen and I'm sure some others) are not isotopes. If radioactive particulates are present in the vapor space during ventilation these HEPA filters capture them and are then dealt with through routine replacement. HEPA filters are amazing because they filter down to such tiny particle levels.


Hydrogen gas is a bi-product in the break down of a lot of the chemicals within these tanks. It actually is generated in the breakdown of numerous compounds and organics in nature. One thing that I had not said earlier is that most of the waste mass is not radioactive but either highly acidic or highly basic chemicals that were used to process enriched uranium and plutonium.

This sounds scary and all but if you know a chemical or environmental engineer they will tell you that "dilution is the solution". It's that way for everything. Have you ever wondered why industrial plants put their ventilation stacks so high into the air? It's to meet the EPA requirements for particulates/volume in the atmosphere.

Within "tank farms" as it is called out at Hanford, these passive ventilation filters stand about 3' off of the ground. So to give you some perspective on the amount of output gas we're talking about, compare this little 3' high stack with a filter to a 100' or 200' stack at somewhere like a paper mill for instance.

These tanks are not pressure vessels. These filters only cause about .5 inches of water gauge back pressure. If one of these were to blow it would not be due to over pressurization but ignition. That is why when something is inserted into a tank we use stainless steels. Not to mention their ability to withstand the chemicals a lot better, stainless does not cause sparking.

Hydrogen in these tanks has been present since the waste was put in there. Back in the 80's the more solid waste tanks were experiencing burps of hydrogen bubbles and it got brought up in the papers back then. It's like three mile island. Not a significant event but when you stick a guy on TV claiming he can taste the radioactivity in the air it causes a panic.

If you want to know where most of the unnecessary exposure to radioactive isotopes occurred in the US, take a look at the surveys they have from all of the fallout during nuke testing in the cold war era.


I know the source is not the original creator of the map but it is an accurate map for the information.

The Columbia river AKA radiation river.

The Columbia river AKA radiation river.

Unless you think government is the site's rightful owner

...you are engaged in economic activism, not political activism.

If you are protesting that government must "do something" about the site, then you do think that government is the rightful owner and you are indeed engaged in political activism.

Political activism is inherently immoral.

I am engagedin education and farming.

Slow day today, more "education" than farming.
I tried political activism, found the participants generally utterly immoral, so you may have a point. It is all an attempt for one person or group to gain control over another.

Love or fear? Choose again with every breath.

Political vs. Economic Activisim

This is a very good point to make. I don't think the site ownership should necessarily be the government but the responsibility for the clean-up I do. I am interested in what other libertarians think about this. I can't figure out the alternative without government funding so it kills me as a libertarian. There is no economic benefits from waste cleanup so to believe that free markets would take care of this is a hard pill for me to swallow.

I honestly don't care who is the owner of the site, I care about the future of the environment around my local area.

Firstly, this is something that was created by our US government and should have been taken care of during the generations that it was created.

But, much in the way our national debt works, even though we may be paying the debt generated well before our own generation we are all still concerned with paying it off now. Likewise, I think regardless of what generations are responsible for the waste out at Hanford many people want to see it cleaned up. Especially people like me who are living here now.

Trolls working over time on this post

So much propaganda and lies. Guess what, radiation from a nuclear plant is BAD. I mean do we have to give this the "would it get past a 5 grader" BS test? Nuclear power, biotech, banks... all too-big-to-fail.

Trolls are here....and they don't even know who they are.

I am a professional in this field and I have given you sources for what I am saying. It is sad, I really liked this site. It's too bad that you are all supporting what you say you are not.

Hopping on the band wagon and thinking that way is why nothing ever gets done out at Hanford. It's not that dangerous. But whining pussies who don't realize that their own habits in their daily lives result in more radiological doses have bitched their way to the top making it impossible to do anything without miles of bureaucratic paperwork that means nothing to the overall safety of the workers. Then the unions and the government workers come in and soak up half the funding that actually gets shit done.

How dare you guys discredit the efforts to cleanup the Hanford site. It's just like the war in Iraq. I never agreed with it but I never took it out on the soldiers who went there. If private industry were to take over cleanup I would still be working it. I want to make a difference for my local area the Columbia River corridor.


(or Girl),
Don't leave the site... the trolls are harmless. We need more smart people here. It's been a little foggy since the election.

Thanks for your contribution.

Read up on your nuclear sciences......

I am not trying to call any of you liars but it sounds like a few of you have been tricked into believing that anything with the word "nuclear" or "isotope" is dangerous.


Take a look for yourselves. The tables show you the relative dose rates and you'll be surprised at what you see.

Another thing that might surprise you all is that these tanks that I spoke about previously will reach government defined non-hazardous radiation levels in about a hundred years thank to a little physical breakdown called a half-life.

And you will guard it the whole hundred years?

Your lack of any sense of responsibility for the horror you are leaving for your children is pretty sickening.
Those of us who love people who lived near Hanford their entire lives know better.
I am not trying to call anyone a brainwashed dupe for the nuclear industry, but.... well, yes I am.

Love or fear? Choose again with every breath.

NO I won't be around that long silly.

Your article is about a woman who was exposed to iodine-131 during the weapons development era of Hanford. FFTF, PFP, T-plant all have not been running for decades. While she may have died due to these complications the courts did not think so.

Again, I'm employed (right now) to clean-up the waste that was created. I'm not producing Plutonium, I'm trying to get it out of leaking tanks and treated so that nobody had to go through such an agonizing disability that may or may not have been caused because of the weapons production.

I personally would never have worked as a weapons fuel producer by the way.

The high school I went to

The high school I went to near Seattle was made of brick from sand taken near the Hanford site. My environmental science teacher use to put a geiger counter up against the brick and said one person every year he taught there would likely have complications from being around the brick.

A JURY found Hanford agrees with your teacher.


Not an industry spokesman, or an industry bought and paid for judge. A jury, who got to listen to prosecution and defense, and they concluded Hanford was making people sick. All along, it has been leaking and malfunctioning since the day it was built.

Love or fear? Choose again with every breath.

Tokyo's Daily Radiation Readings Underscore the Fallacy of the

Fukushima Radiation Hysteria: http://educate-yourself.org/cn/tokyodailyradiationmonitor03d...
hydrocarbon markets have antinuclear motive: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5d3thaYkc5A&feature=player_em...!
According to former Mi6 agent Dr Jhon Coleman you naturally have more radiation in your body then you get from a nuclear leak or accident.
The myth of nuclear waste by Marjorie Mazel Hecht: http://larouchepac.com/node/14724


Not as bad as you think..........

Where do I begin.....

I am a sub-contractor to the Hanford site. Specifically, for the last 5 years I have been working with a team developing waste retrieval systems for potential leaking single shell tanks. One of these systems has already been deployed with great success. The waste is being removed from these SST's and is then transferred to more robust double shell tanks until Bechtel can finish their VIT plant.

Hydrogen inside of these tanks has been known for a very long time so don't get your panties in a bunch about it. There has never been an explosion and I doubt there ever will be since the tanks are passively vented with HEPA filters.

My point I'd like to make is that this is all a hype brought on partially by our newly elected governor and the Oregon senator to prevent spending cuts for site work. The rest of the pressure is likely from the extremely strong labor unions that control all of the site forces. These guys make everyone pay dues to them and maybe 25% of those folks receive none of the benefits from said unions.

While I am at it, let me tell you something about the spending cuts and how they work out on site. DOE saw its budget for Hanford cut by some 80 million I guess. Not one penny came directly out of their staffs pockets though nor did any DOE staff take furlough. Every dollar of sequester out here was passed down to the site work forces and the subcontractors like me. Like I said, we have successfully deployed a system that removes waste from tanks. No one has ever done that before. We are now finishing our second deploy-able system and I am afraid it will be our last. The contract we had for our third system has been suspended and our staff is down to a quarter of what it should be for completing the one we are currently testing. I am tired and at times incoherent from the work load.

If you want to know why these tanks are still a problem some 80 years after the waste making began this is it. Even if the money comes back or the DOE reallocates resources my company and I will probably never see the money again. The retrieval of tanks will go on hiatus and by the time funding goes back to it again, they'll waste it building an entirely new system rather than using the already proven design. It's alright though. After I lose my job as a mechanical engineer (that I had to pay for on my own) I'll just find a job in the site labor forces and get paid more than I ever would have made with my college education. It will be relaxing, I'll play cribbage for at least 4 hours a day, walk out to tank farms and turn a valve and then go home. My friends do that. They went to college to party and I went for higher education. They got the good job and I'm just subcontractor scum.

Thanks DP for letting me vent............

So you can assure me I will never get fallout from Hanford?

People like you aggravate the heck out of me. You have a paycheck on the line, so you become a PERFECT TOOL for the NWO.
You are over there helping them create nuclear waste that you cannot dispose of safely. Sure, you all have great "plans" but those plans all pretend that mega earthquakes and asteroid strikes are well under your control. You hvae4 NO RIGHT to poison MY air - not today, not next week, and for the love of ALL THAT IS DECENT - NOT FOR HUNDREDS OF YEARS!!!!
Don't tell me how "safe" Hanford is, most of my in-laws have thyroid disease from the LAST round of Hanford lies.

Love or fear? Choose again with every breath.

Calm down.....

Firstly, let's see some proof that your thyroid disease is from Hanford and not something genetic within your family.

NWO?? Really?? I thought this was a site to bring libertarians together not terrorize posters with conspiracy theories (that I agree with to some degree).

We are not create waste. We are removing it. You should calm down and realize that since you have no idea what goes on out at site you are making yourself look foolish. Rather than concluding that thinking about nuclear waste will give you cancer, read up on it instead. Do you smoke? If you do, your daily exposure is probably more than what a typical operator would receive working at an actual nuclear reactor.

Please calm down and re-read what I have posted.

Also, your calling me a conscript for the NWO and then you openly admit you peddle drugs for big pharma.....what a hypocrite!

No, I am an "awake person."

You are the hypocrite, poisoning people and pretending you are not. I do not peddle drugs for Pharma now, I blow the whistle. When you recover from your professional hypnosis, let me know - I have a spare whistle for you.
The DOCTORS in the area blame Hanford, that was not my call. And a jury.

Love or fear? Choose again with every breath.


If this stuff scares you so much you should be on my side. I'm working to get rid of the waste. Not make it.

the myth of nuclear waste by Marjorie Mazel Hecht

There’s no such thing as nuclear waste! This nasty term was invented just to stop the development of civilian nuclear power.

The spent fuel from nuclear power plants is actually a precious resource: About 96% of it can be recycled into new nuclear fuel. No other fuel source can make this claim—wood, coal, oil, or gas. Once these fuels are burned, all that’s left is some ash or airborne pollutant by-products, which nuclear energy does not produce.

Thus, nuclear is a truly renewable resource. Furthermore, unlike wind, solar, and other so-called alternative energy sources, a nuclear fission reactor (the fast reactor or breeder reactor) can actually create more fuel than it uses up.

In the Atoms for Peace days of the 1950s and 1960s, it was assumed that spent reactor fuel would be reprocessed into new reactor fuel. The initial plan was for the United States and other nuclear nations to have closed nuclear fuel cycles, not “once through” cycles. In the closed fuel cycle, uranium is mined, enriched, and processed into fuel rods; then it is burned as fuel and reprocessed, to start the cycle again.

“Burying” spent fuel (as planned for Yucca Mountain) was not in the Atoms for Peace picture. Why bury a fuel source that could provide thousands of metric tons of uranium-238, fissile uranium-235, and plutonium-239 that could be used to make new reactor fuel?

But, as explained below, the U.S. stopped its reprocessing program in the 1970s and instead now stores spent nuclear fuel, waiting for a long-term burial site. Despite the scary headlines, the total amount of spent fuel in storage in the United States is small. The U.S. Department of Energy stated in 2007: “If we were to take all the spent fuel produced to date in the United States and stack it side-by-side, end-to-end, the fuel assemblies would cover an area about the size of a football field to a depth of about five yards.”

The amount of usable fuel in that hypothetical football field, however, is vast. Burying 70,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel would waste 66,000 metric tons of uranium-238, which could be used to make new fuel, and an additional 1,200 metric tons of fissile uranium- 235 and plutonium-239, the energetic part of the fuel mixture. Looking at it another way, the spent fuel produced by a single 1,000-megawatt nuclear plant over its 40-year lifetime is equal to the energy in 5 billion gallons of oil, or 37 million tons of coal. Would you throw that away?

In addition to the multi-trillion-dollar amount of new reactor fuel that could be recycled from 96% of the spent nuclear fuel now in storage, the remaining 4 % of so-called high-level waste—about 2,500 metric tons— is also usable: http://larouchepac.com/node/14724


Correction is right...sort of.

Yes. You're right to some degree.

With regards to the Hanford single shell tanks, we are not dealing with pellets of uranium that were once used in reactors. The "waste" is mainly cesium and strontium inside the tanks that could be classified as "nuclear". (loose terminology I know but that is how we refer to it within projects)

Very informative and well laid out. I have always been a nerd for Thorium reactors. I do believe that a lot of the fuel that is produced for Energy Northwest (last running nuke plant on the Hanford reserve) uses recycled uranium. It still generates waste to reprocess it but much less than when they were just pumping it out in the 40's, 50's and 60's.

Dr. Michael Fox a physical chemist and nuclear engineer, has es

timated that there are about 80 tons each of cesium-137 and strontium-90 that could be separated out for use in medical applications, such as targeted radioisotope therapies, or sterilization of equipment. Using isotope separation techniques, and fast-neutron bombardment for transmutation (technologies that the United States has refused to develop), we could separate out other valuable radioisotopes, like americium, which is widely used in smoke detectors, or plutonium- 238, which is used to power heart pacemakers, as well as small reactors in space. Krypton-85, tritium, and promethium- 147 are used in self-powered lights in remote applications; strontium-90 is used to provide electric power for remote weather stations, and in remote surveillance stations, navigational aids, and defense communications systems. We know how to reprocess used nuclear fuel, and can do it safely, as this country did for years. We also know that there are new technologies to be developed that can eliminate the long-lived radioisotopes in the 4% of used nuclear fuel that cannot be recycled. New technologies could retrieve many of these isotopes for use in medicine and industry.We can develop fusion power, with high enough temperatures (millions of degrees) to reduce nuclear spent fuel and other matter—including garbage or rock—down to its constituent elements. The fusion torch was an idea patented in the 1960s, but its development was stopped by the same anti-nuclear forces noted above. Plasma torches, with lower than fusion temperatures, are used today in industry in several applications— steel making, for example.


If the subsidies were eliminated for all the conventional and a

alternative sources of energy meaning true competition then the form of energy that is the cheapest and most efficient will win which happens to be nuclear energy. Solar and wind recievve trillions of dollars of subsidies evrey year from the goverment but only produce o.75 percent of the electricity of the us because they are not efficient. one nuclear power plant produces 4 billion kilowatts of energy. Conventional energy sources receive billions of dollars of subsidies every year from the goverment.


Tokyo's Daily Radiation Readings Underscore the Fallacy of the

Fukushima Radiation Hysteria: http://educate-yourself.org/cn/tokyodailyradiationmonitor03d...
hydrocarbon markets have antinuclear motive: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5d3thaYkc5A&feature=player_em...!
According to former Mi6 agent Dr Jhon Coleman you naturally have more radiation in your body then you get from a nuclear leak or accident.


thank you for posting this

can you repost with working links?

i just reposted it with working links at the top of the page

for you.


Michael Nystrom's picture

Thank you fishy for the update

As you know, I'm from that neck of the woods. I recall as a child all the problems with Hanford. I don't remember exactly what - just that it was always in the news, and that it was really bad. Being in Seattle, I was thankful it was on the other side of the mountains. But that was the extent of my awareness as a sixth grader.

If anything, this exemplifies the "do it now, worry about it later" culture that is so pervasive in our country. It is the same attitude with the national debt, social security, etc. And it is what caused this current problem at Hanford, thirty years ago.