The Department of Energy says six tanks containing nuclear waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state are leaking, and a spokeswoman for the governor’s office says the information was delayed because of bad analysis.

Jaime Smith was quoted by Reuters as saying, “One of the frustrating things we have learned is that the Department of Energy had data that the leaks were going on — and had they analyzed it properly it would have told us much sooner that the leaks were occurring.”

One of the six leaks had already been identified and reported.

The site, which was built originally for the Manhattan Project and manufactured nuclear material into the 1980s, is located near the Columbia River.

As The New York Times reported in the excerpt below, officials are worried about the impact of budget cuts on the cleanup effort.

The New York Times:

The Department of Energy, Mr. Inslee said in a statement, “did not adequately analyze data it had that would have shown the other tanks that are leaking.”

Political leaders in Washington State and Oregon were already on high alert about Hanford as new worries about the site’s pollutants combined with concerns about federal budgets, especially if automatic spending cuts — the sequestration threat hanging over Congress — kick in, affecting the cleanup budget.

The Department of Energy, which oversees the site, said last week that one of the 177 tanks at the site was leaking radioactive waste liquids at a rate of 150 to 300 gallons per year. The department said then that the tank, which holds approximately 447,000 gallons of sludge, was the first one documented to be losing liquids since interim stabilization of Hanford’s tanks was completed in 2005.

Read more

— Posted by Peter Z. Scheer.

Wait, before you go…

If you're reading this, you probably already know that non-profit, independent journalism is under threat worldwide. Independent news sites are overshadowed by larger heavily funded mainstream media that inundate us with hype and noise that barely scratch the surface. We believe that our readers deserve to know the full story. Truthdig writers bravely dig beneath the headlines to give you thought-provoking, investigative reporting and analysis that tells you what’s really happening and who’s rolling up their sleeves to do something about it.

Like you, we believe a well-informed public that doesn’t have blind faith in the status quo can help change the world. Your contribution of as little as $5 monthly or $35 annually will make you a groundbreaking member and lays the foundation of our work.

Support Truthdig