Energy Secretary Nominee No Stranger To Hanford Tank Leaks

By Anna King

RICHLAND, Wash. – President Obama’s nominee for the next federal Energy Secretary is no stranger to the cleanup work at the Northwest’s Hanford Nuclear Reservation. Ernest Moniz was Energy undersecretary during the Clinton Administration.

Back in the late 90s Ernest Moniz faced scrutiny about tank leaks at Hanford here in southeast Washington.

The problem -- and question then -- was whether about a million gallons of leaked radioactive tank waste had reached the groundwater and was headed toward the Columbia River. Or if it was staying put in a dry layer of soil, above the groundwater. During Moinz said that yes, radioactive waste was leaking into the groundwater, and no – the Department of Energy hadn’t been looking very hard to see if that was happening.

A government report found that Energy officials had known about the possible problem for nearly 10 years. Moinz would face similar questions now as Energy Secretary. Recently, it was announced that six single-hulled tanks may be leaking a couple of gallons of waste a day at the site.

Copyright 2013 Northwest Public Radio

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