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Wash. State Orders Hanford Managers To Empty Leaking Tank

The state of Washington has ordered the federal government to pump out a leaking double-shell tank of waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

The state says pumping must begin by Sept. 1.

Friday’s announcement followed months of polite talks and planning. But the Department of Ecology says it has waited long enough.

The federal government planned to start pumping out the leaking tank, called AY-102, about 18 months from now. The state said no way, and is pushing the fall deadline.

Tank AY-102 is one of Hanford’s 28 double-shell tanks that contain hundreds of thousands of gallons of highly-radioactive liquid and peanut butter-like sludge.

Right now, federal officials say the tank is only leaking in between its double hull walls, but they worry it could leak out into the environment. 

The old tanks at Hanford hold the leftovers from plutonium production during World War II and the Cold War.

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.