Hanford radiation leak: is San Onofre at risk?

The catastrophic Hanford nuclear radiation leak: Could it happen at San Onofre State Beach?

Radiation alarms began screaming early in the morning on Monday, April 18, at the U.S.A.’s largest military nuclear waste dump.  The admission that there is what some are calling a “catastrophic leak” of radioactive waste came 11 months after the leak was first detected by employees (source).

radioactive nuclkera waste leaking from double-walled casks

The Web site Common Dreams is reporting that a “catastrophic” radiation leak has occurred at the allegedly sturdy double-walled tanks at the Hanford nuclear site in Washington State.  According to NBC/King News (see video), employees at Hanford lowered a remote video camera between the inner and outer layers of the massive one-million gallon capacity double-walled tanks and discovered that 8.5″ of deadly radioactive sludge had formed in the annulus – a two and one-half foot space — between the inner and outer walls.  Unlike the planned casks at San Onofre, which will be made of 5/8″ thick steel, with no outer wall, the Hanford AY-102 casks have a two-and-one-half foot concrete barrier between the carbon steel interior lining (the primary tank wall) and the outer wall.

Massive leaking nuclear waste storage canisters
Curiiously, this sanitized illustration refers to the “annulus” — the area
the toxic nuke waste is leaking as a “secondary tank.” To give
an idea of scale,  the outer concrete wall is 30″ thick.

Could it happen at San Onofre?

Apparently the tanks have been leaking for years, according to this forensic report, but with eight-and-one-half inches of deadly radioactive waste sloshing around outside of the first carbon steel wall in the leaking tanks, it doesn’t bode well for local residents. What’s more, th walls at Hanford are incredibly thick, while the stainless steel walls at Southern California Edison’s SONGS facility are only 5/8″ thick.

The Hanford tanks are massive

To give you an idea of how big Hanford’s underground tanks are, the outer gray wall in the schematic shown below is 30 inches of concrete.

Take a video inspection of the Hanford disaster 


Click on the image to the right for an NBC  report on what happened at Hanford. It is noteworthy that at Southern California Edison’s failed nuclear reactors at San Onofre State Park, the proposed thin-walled Hi-Storm storage casks are only 5/8 of an inch thick.  The manufacturer, Holtec, has guaranteed the casks will work for 20-years. The wast will remain at San Onofre until at least the year 2059, and will probably remain buried on the beach for at last 300 hundred years.

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