Wyden Requests GAO Investigation of Hanford Leaks, Monitoring

February 26, 2013

Washington, D.C. – Today Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., asked the Government Accountability Office to investigate maintenance and monitoring procedures at the Department of Energy’s Hanford Site, where it was recently revealed that six tanks of hazardous nuclear waste are now believed to be leaking.

“These new leak announcements raise a lot of questions about the monitoring and management of the Hanford tank farms,” Wyden said. “After visiting Hanford for myself last week, I’m now asking GAO to get to the bottom of how and when DOE found out about these leaks, and what can be done to reduce the risk of radioactive waste contaminating the environment.”

The DOE announced on February 15 that one single-shell storage tank was leaking radioactive waste. On February 22, three days after Chairman Wyden toured Hanford on February 19, Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced that five additional tanks were also leaking.

In a letter to GAO, Wyden asked GAO to investigate whether these new leak discoveries should prompt changes in DOE’s monitoring program, what steps DOE should take to reduce risks of leaks, and when DOE and its contractors discovered these most recent leaks.

The full letter is below.