YAKIMA — The new chairman of a key Senate committee asked Tuesday for a federal investigation into leaking underground tanks at the nation’s most contaminated nuclear site.
State and federal officials announced last week that six tanks at Hanford Nuclear Reservation are leaking. The tanks hold a toxic and radioactive stew of waste left from decades of plutonium production for U.S. nuclear weapons.
The nuclear site borders the Columbia River, which flows between Washington and Oregon, home state to Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden, the new chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Wyden toured the Hanford site Feb. 19.
Wyden asked the Government Accountability Office by letter Tuesday to investigate when the Energy Department knew about the leaks and whether the agency and its cleanup contractors reported them appropriately. The letter also seeks a review of tank monitoring.
“These new leak announcements raise a lot of questions about the monitoring and management of the Hanford tank farms,” Wyden said. “After visiting Hanford for myself last week, I’m now asking GAO to get to the bottom of how and when DOE found out about these leaks, and what can be done to reduce the risk of radioactive waste contaminating the environment.”