A third of leaking Hanford tank’s sludge pumped out

Courtesy Associated Press

Hanford workers continued to make good progress through the weekend on emptying sludge from the nuclear reservation’s double-shell waste storage tank with a leak between its shells.

Between Thursday night and Sunday night, about 52,000 gallons of radioactive sludge had been pumped out of the tank. It leaves about 105,000 gallons of sludge the Department of Energy is required to remove by a March 4, 2017, deadline.

In early March, Washington River Protection Solutions removed most of the liquid waste that sat above the sludge in the tank, meeting a deadline set in a settlement agreement with the state of Washington to start retrieving waste.

Work to retrieve sludge started on the weekend because of the increased risk for chemical vapors. The DOE contractor will evaluate monitoring data for chemical vapors collected over the weekend before resuming sludge retrieval.