Statement from Gov. Inslee on news of possible leak of Hanford double-shell tank AY-102

June 21, 2013

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“Last night I received a call from United States Energy Secretary Moniz informing me that the US Department of Energy discovered what appears to be an elevated contamination level reading in the leak detection pit outside and adjacent to  the Hanford double-shell tank AY-102. This is most disturbing news for Washington. It is not clear yet whether that contamination is coming directly from the outer shell of the AY-102 but it must be treated with the utmost seriousness.  The discovery was made during a routine pumping outside the tank when pumps are also surveyed for radioactivity.

“The Secretary informed me that USDOE has convened an engineering analysis team to verify the source of the contamination through additional sampling and video inspection. It’s our understanding that this process could take several days.

“Our state experts confirm that there is no immediate public health threat. Given the relatively early detection of this potential leak, the river is not at immediate risk of contamination should it be determined that a leak has occurred outside the tank. The Secretary assured me that USDOE will respond swiftly and with all actions necessary to determine the condition of the AY-102.

"Prior to receiving this news from Secretary last night, he and I had held a productive meeting yesterday in OIympia, following his first tour of the Hanford site the previous day. Even before learning of this new development, I told the Secretary I continue to have serious concerns regarding the pace of addressing the leaking tanks. We will be insisting on an acceleration of remediation of all the tanks, not just AY-102. USDOE has a legal obligation to clean up Hanford and remove or treat that waste, and we ensure that legal obligation is fulfilled.”

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Editor’s Note:

For project-specific questions, please contact the state Department of Ecology: Erica Holmes, Department of Ecology, (509) 372-7880

Media Contact 

Jaime Smith
Governor Inslee’s Communications Office
360.902.4136