Study: Imported radioactive waste would further harm Hanford ground water

A new draft study shows importing radioactive waste for disposal at Hanford would significantly increase pollution in ground water beneath the nuclear reservation, according to the Washington State Department of Ecology.

The state long has opposed the Department of Energy sending radioactive waste to Hanford for disposal. The draft Hanford Tank Closure and Waste Management Environmental Impact Statement puts some numbers to that assertion.

"We're cleaning up Hanford of some of the constituents we care most about and then recontaminating it with off-site waste to above the acceptable level from a cancer risk standpoint or a safe drinking water standpoint," said Suzanne Dahl, tank waste treatment section manager for the Department of Ecology.

Under some scenarios that appear likely, the amount of certain long-lived radioactive isotopes that would be imported and buried at Hanford would account for as much as 90 percent of the releases of that isotope to the environment, according to the state. Some of the worst contamination could occur 1,000 or more years from now.

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