July 13th, 2010
Dealing with nuclear waste may be even more of a challenge than previously believed. According to a former Energy Department official, the amount of plutonium buried at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington State is nearly three times what the federal government previously acknowledged.
Robert Alvarez reanalyzed studies conducted by the Energy Department over the last 15 years for Hanford, the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory, and the Savannah River Site near Aiken, S.C., among others. Plutonium waste is much more prevalent around nuclear weapons sites nationwide than the Energy Department’s official accounting indicates, he concludes, but the problem is most severe at Hanford, a 560-square-mile tract in south-central Washington that was taken over by the federal government as part of the Manhattan Project.