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Radioactivity Cleanup At Hanford Nuclear Reservation, 25 Years On 123

Posted by samzenpus
from the get-scrubbing dept.
Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes "The cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington was supposed to be entering its final stages by now. The reality is far from that. The cleanup was to be managed under the 'Tri-Party Agreement', signed on May 15, 1989, which was supposed to facilitate cooperation between the agencies involved. Today, underfunded and overwhelmed by technical problems, the effort is decades behind schedule. Adding to the frustrations for stakeholders and watchdogs is a bureaucratic slipperiness on the part of the Federal Department of Energy. As one watchdog put it, 'We are constantly frustrated by how easily the Department of Energy slips out of agreements in the Tri-Party Agreement.'"
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Radioactivity Cleanup At Hanford Nuclear Reservation, 25 Years On

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 18, 2014 @05:41PM (#47034295)

    Prediction: The rest of the discussion will be nuke fans lamenting the lack of proper storage facilities and breeder reactors, without proposing any practical solutions. In other words, more blame, mostly aimed at environmentalists even though this is primarily a financial and regulatory problem.

    Disclaimer: Pro-nuke. But no, not from me.

    The problem is precisely what you said - financial and regulatory, and it's not nuclear-specific. From TFA: "The Department of Energy has too long and deep a track record of failure," he said. The work could be turned over to the Environmental Protection Agency, or the government could create a new agency to do the job, Carpenter suggested."

    At which point I fucking lost my sanity.

    Nobody is interested in fixing it, not even the environmental guy. The longer it goes unfixed, the more the DoE contractors can extract from DoE through the revolving door. If it gets turned over to EPA, look for three years and at least one election season before the budget to hire the contractors to do the studies for EPA can even be drafted, let alone completed, and if we take Carpenter's "solution" at face value - the creation of Yet Another Government Agency to do what the first two haven't been able to do for decades - we're talking about doubling that time (and political risk because the momentum for the agency is going to be a function of how many elections there are between now and the agency's creation) again.

    tl;dr: Bureaucracy multiplies itself, and once it's hit critical mass, nothing will ever get done about anything, because there are more dollars released in bouncing contracts and contractors through the revolving door, than there are dollars released by actually completing the cleanup and shutting down the site in an environmentally sound fashion. We're well past critical mass on this project, which means it'll never get fixed no matter whose side of the aisle you're on in terms of R-vs-D-vs-EPA-vs-DOE-vs-private-vs-public-vs-nuke-vs-solar-vs-fossil.

  • by michael_cain (66650) on Sunday May 18, 2014 @10:05PM (#47035513) Journal
    ...point out that 4th gen nuclear reactors will consume the waste of previous gen reactors as fuel...

    Unfortunately, much of the waste at Hanford is not in a form that can be easily converted to usable fuel for anything. Think millions of gallons of seriously nasty chemical toxins, that just happen to also have a batch radioactive isotopes dissolved in it. The clean-up plan calls for a one-of-a-kind chemical plant to handle separation and break-down of the stuff. Much of the delay can be attributed to problems with the design of said plant; a lot of experts assert that it simply won't work.
  • by Eunuchswear (210685) on Monday May 19, 2014 @07:17AM (#47037163) Journal

    Does this include all sort of waste, or only some of it

    Only some of it. Just spent fuel, not miscelaneous radioactive shit (which, luckily, is moslly "low level").

    Also not the crap that's at Hanford - that shit is seriously fucked up.

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