Nuclear, Plant Optimization, Waste Management & Decommissioning

Media flops on reporting of Hanford nuclear waste leak

Hanford nuclear site Washington Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage issue Nevada

The discovery over the weekend that six underground storage tanks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation near the Columbia River in Washington State were leaking radioactive waste was followed by grossly inaccurate reports about the incident in the media, as Forbes contributor James Conca notes in a scathing column.

Conca points out that the news was widely reported accompanied by photographs of the Columbia Generating Station, a nuclear power plant located far away and unrelated to the storage tanks leaking transuranic nuclear waste produced in the production of atomic weapons from 1943 to the end of the cold war. Numerous outlets were guilty of the failure in reportage, from the New York Daily News to TV stations in Portland, Ore.

Cleanup of the Hanford site, which began in 1987, has been called “the most complex and largest nuclear project in history,” by Steven Chu, the outgoing U.S. energy secretary. Cleanup at the site led by the contractor Bechtel has already gone far over budget and been harshly criticized by the Government Accountability Office.

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