Businessweek: U.S. plutonium facility “might blow up, or, as they like to call it, experience a ‘criticality event’” — “450 billion gallons of industrial and radiological contaminants dumped directly into soil” — Threatens water supplies for millions across Pacific Northwest #Hanford
August 2nd, 2013
Title: The Plutonium Gang: CH2M Hill Dismantles the Hanford Nuclear Site
Author: Steve Featherstone
Date: August 1, 2013
Before entering the shuttered Plutonium Finishing Plant at the Hanford Site, Jerry Long hangs his identification badge on a board outside the entrance, so rescue crews can easily figure out who’s inside, should it come to that. “This is a no-kidding hazardous category 2 nuclear facility,” says Long [...] The U.S. Department of Energy reserves that category for sites that might blow up, or, as they like to call it, experience a “criticality event.” [...]
[There's] enough residual plutonium to build 10 bombs the size of the one that destroyed Nagasaki.
[...] the plant is highly contaminated with not only plutonium but also byproducts such as hexavalent chromium, made infamous by Erin Brockovich. The Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that over the years some 450 billion gallons of industrial and radiological contaminants were dumped directly into the soil. Some of it was stored, and Hanford’s aging complex of 177 underground tanks contain 53 million gallons of chemicals and radioactive liquids; 67 of the tanks have together leaked more than a million gallons. The DOE recently identified six more tanks that have sprung leaks, further threatening water supplies for millions across the Northwest. [...]