News Apr 19, 2012 at 4:00 am

Occupy Portland Takes on Hanford's Nuclear Waste


I do not recall calling the Portland people "crazy." However, the rest of the article is very good. I would point out that yes, we do know -- exactly what is "out there." We have been dealing with it for a long time. The Tri Cities has the greatest concentration of Masters' and Doctoral level people west of the Rockies. Of course we know what is "out there." Does anyone seriously believe that I would do ANYTHING that threatens the health of my grandchildren? We all need to think of this as a finite resource allocation problem. With limited money to spend, what makes sense -- spending it on imagined risks totally unsupported by evidence, or real risks which can be empirically proven? This is not the time in our nation's history to be wasting money on nonexistent problems. But then, it never is. BTW, the Columbia River has been proven to be almost totally radioactive contaminant free, by the Washington State Dep't of Health. Anyone can get the report.
Gerald Woodcock, MBA
I was there. The photo and my estimate do not reflect the assertion of 200 present, more like less than a hundred, particularly the out-of-towner come-latelies. I left when one of the speakers claimed that the protest was about the Walla Walla Valley environment as affected by Hanford. My Walla Walla valley youth experience observation was that valley flowed the wrong way and entered the Columbia as a diluter down range from Hanford. The rhetoric simply does not compute. You bet, we know what's out at Hanford. Don't need uninformed externals to say we don't. Tens of thousands of workers have safely been there for decades, including this multi-degree scientist. It is groups like the Occupiers which have stifled progress. Due to the claims of stoppage by Heart of America Northwest a few decades ago, Hanford could not clean up used fuel from N-Reactor for $150 Million. Instead, 20 years later, $2.5 Billion, and previously unnecessary worker exposures, we still have the fuel in dry storage under continued costly protection due to its character and no place to go. Thanks a lot for oversight. To the Occupiers: Why not simply join the Hanford Advisory Board if the Occupiers want a reasonably factual voice in the process? Or, take a couple of courses in nuclear chemistry, physics or health physics, which would mean you would need to pass a lot of pre-requisites like basic math and logic, as we did. Otherwise, don't waste the public's time, ink, and money.
Presumably the multi-degreed Hanford-connected scientist can answer some of these questions, and thus educate the concerned citizens:

•What will the final cost of the WTP system be at startup?
•How much more will expanded low level vit, canister storage, and other changes cost?
•Why has the startup gone from 2008 to 2022?
•How can the WTP be built if the feed material has not been defined? How do you build a chemical plant without knowing what it will handle?
•Where did the missing $15M of missing taxpayer money go for the poor quality tank fabrication? Why has Bechtel not returned it?
• Why was the mixing issue declared closed if $200M will now be spent just for more testing?
•What does Bechtel plan to do to prevent trapping explosive hydrogen gas and prevent explosions? (like at Fukushima)
•What does Bechtel plan to do to prevent criticalities from happening? (like in a bomb)
•Why is Bechtel proceeding with the design if the testing showed major pipe erosion?
•Why does DOE let Bechtel proceed with an incomplete design?
•Why is there no single list of WTP problems and issues?
•What is DOE doing with the results of the recent Health/Safety/Security culture survey?
•What will DOE do differently the next time a whistleblower raises an issue?
•How can the problems in blackcells be readily repaired at startup as Russo proposes?
•Why does DOE assume responsibility for problems that are Bechtel’s fault? Is this so that Bechtel can adjust their baseline and continue to be rewarded for good cost and schedule performance?
•What is Patty Murray. Maria Cantwell, and Doc Hastings doing to have the WTP cultural and technical problems corrected?
•Why have Bechtel and URS reduced the WTP startup performance criteria? How much more will these key requirements be reduced?
•Why did Patty Murray’s office supported Bechtel with no information in hand?
•How can DOE allow Bechtel to claim technical issues are closed when there is so much work yet to do on them? How will Bechtel and URS obtain representative process samples?
•Why has DOE not called for a stand-down on the WTP pretreatment until an acceptable path forward can be defined? (Continue work on the other parts but fix PT issues).
•Why does Secretary Chu delegate all actions to Dan Poneman (a lawyer) when the DNFSB several times recommended Dr. Chu’s direct involvement?
•Why does the DNFSB not have enforcement authority?
•DOE is not capable of being both the owner and the regulator. Who will be designated to provide the oversight of DOE?
•The amount of hazardous nuclear waste in the tankfarm was once cited to be about 53 million gallons. Now a number of 56 million gallons is cited. Why is it increasing and how much of this has leaked into the environment? How much will have leaked by 2022?
•Why is DOE considering putting a pretreatment facility in the tankfarm, i.e., a pretreatment facility for the WTP pretreatment facility? If pretreatment will not work in the WTP, why will it work better in the tankfarm? If one does not work, will two work better??
•What did DOE do with the tankfarm WTP oversight group recommendations? This was the Contract Line Item Number (CLIN 3.2) Group. Why were their reports never made public? Why did DOE now do away with the CLIN 3.2 oversight group?
•Why is Bechtel both the Design Authority and the Design Agency and then paid for cost and schedule performance with no responsibility for long-term operations?
•Why are there 5 active Level 1 Technical Findings that DOE has taken no action upon? Why hasn’t Knutson acted promptly to address these?
•Why is Bechtel and URS reimbursed with taxpayer money for all the costs associated with their legal defense if they created the problems?
•How much total money has been spent on Bechtel’s and URS legal defense efforts?
•Why is a $20 Billion plant being built with the chance that hydrogen explosions, criticalities, irreversible line pluggages, and major erosion can occur?
•In October 2010 at the DNFSB public meeting, Russo said Bechtel would issue a definitive plan by August 2011 (Public Testimony pg. 221). Where is it? Russo also said key design testing would be done in 2012 (pgs. 142, 143, 165). When will the testing start? When will the large scale mixing tests really be done?
•All waste must have cesium removed and therefore be filtered. All solids then become non-Newtonian. How can Knutson say that “80%” of the waste can easily be treated? (pg. 225).
•When will Congressional members investigate what is going on and correct it?
Dear incredibly smart scientist...if it's so safe why is the US gov't spending upwards of 120 BILLION dollars cleaning it up?
Contaminants are in the ground water directly connected to the Columbia River. Mr Woodcock, you let your grand kids swim in this?
Yes of course we trust what the US government tells us...
...especially the stuff that comes from the mouths of paid staff whose jobs depend on us being told what they want us to hear.
Hmmm - whom to believe, Scientists - or a bunch of 'occupy' protesters.
Gee, this is a hard one.
Bypassing the fact radiation causes cancer, do the PHd's of Hanford feel the money has been well spent, or will be?
The fact that Vitrification has been used before in at least four instances has me wondering just what is being sold (again?) to Hanford.
Where is the Program Office for the project, is that the DNFSB? Bechtel lamented that fact at the defense board hearings in Kennewick, there is no program office.
The national labs were privatized, why have some of their rates gone up 600%.
The whole mess needs to be taken out of the hands of for profit corporations, the industry has proven again and again they are willing to risk our lives and money on this, but not their own corporate dollars?
With all the brain power in the Tri-Cities it is interesting whom is speaking out, but more telling is how quiet the rest of your peers are. The only safety culture in Hanford is to protect your corporate owners cash cow.
The risk assessments and oversites have driven the costs beyond comprehension. Due to chemistry, Grand Coulee dam is expected to crumble in 10,000 years. Will society be smart enough in that unforeseen time to handle it? Will society be able to handle the risks in 50 years, 100 yrs, 1000 yrs? What was the forward vision of the Romans, the Renaisance, the civil war era for now? So, scientists picked a number like 10,000 and have found that risks at that horizon are negligible, regardless of what we do at Hanford, whether sequester with tens of billions of dollars or stabilize, cap, and fence with a fraction. Controlling the cost is counter to cleaning to original environment, ie., digging up 200+ feet of overburden to collect smallish contaminants and putting them in a clean spot. Stabilization and avoidance of artificial incursion of water into the soil column is now allowing the short lived contaminants to die away naturally. The long lived ones such has 99Tc have low risk factors from risk assessment in a semi-protected environment. $15 Million? Really? A pittance compared to the noted 10s of billions of cost required by oversite solutions. We'd likely save more lives by eliminating prep school contact sports or building softer bridge abutments.
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