Hanford Quick Facts
Overall site information
- 560 square miles located in south central Washington state, near the
Tri-Cities (Richland, Pasco and Kennewick)
- The Columbia River flows through Hanford for 51 miles
- One million people live in 42 cities and towns on the Columbia River,
down stream from the Hanford site
- Approximately 8,000 farms are located in the counties downstream from
Hanford The estimated value of these farms is $6.4 billion
- The region below Hanford contributes to 10 percent of Washington's
overall economy, and 30 percent of Oregon's economy.
Hanford work force facts
- There are about 8,800 private-sector employees at work on the Hanford
- They are employed by 13 private contractors
- To manage the contractors, the Department of Energy employs
approximately 340 people.
- There are 3,339 private-sector employees working on the Waste Treatment
Plant (WTP) or associated facilities, or managing the high-level nuclear
wastes in those tanks. This is down significantly over the past year, as
budget cuts and management delays have occurred.
- There are 50 federal Department of Energy employees overseeing the work
on the WTP
- Overall payroll for Hanford for the quarter ending June 2005 was $302
Basic Tank Waste Information
- The site contains 177 single and double-shelled tanks with 53 million
gallons of high level radioactive hazardous waste, equivalent to 2,650 rail
cars full of waste
- 149 single shell tanks contain 30 million gallons of waste, mostly salt
cake and sludge with some liquid waste (2,846,000 gallons). Salt cake and
sludge is waste that remains at the bottom of the tank after the liquid
waste has been removed.
- The pumpable liquids have been removed from most of the single shell
tanks per the Interim Stabilization Consent Decree.
- 7 tanks still have pumpable liquid levels, but at levels just above the
agreed to interim stabilization criteria (less than 5000 gallons). One of
these tanks is currently being pumped.
- 28 double shell tanks contain 23 million gallons, most of which is
sludge and liquid. The double shelled tanks are believed to be safer than
the single shelled tanks.
- 67 of the single shell tanks have leaked about 1 million gallons of
highly radioactive waste into the ground. This waste is traveling through
groundwater toward the Columbia River.
- The leaks have resulted in extensive contamination of the soil under the
tanks down to the groundwater 200 feet below.
- All of the 12 Single Shell Tank Farms have contaminated the soil to some
extent and most have contaminated groundwater to some extent.
- Groundwater under two of the tank farms is contaminated with
Technetium-99 at amounts many hundreds of times greater than the federal
drinking water standard. Groundwater under a third tank farm contains
uranium concentrations at amounts 20 times higher than the federal drinking
- With the exception of the above tank farms, most of the contamination is
currently still in the soil above the groundwater, but is moving downward
toward the groundwater. There are some areas where Cobalt can be measured
and the data show the contamination moving downward. The resulting
groundwater plumes are currently small but with high concentrations of
contaminants. These plumes are being fed by the past leaks into the soil
- If cleanup does not proceed on schedule, the plume will reach the
Columbia River in 12 to 50 years depending on location and type of
Tank waste removal - critical to success, plagued by delays
- The first critical step is to finish removing the waste in the single
shelled tanks to the double shelled tanks, where the risk of leaks is less.
This step must occur before cleanup can proceed.
- The Tri-Party Agreement requires all the waste be out of 149 Single
Shell Tanks by 2018 and there is a series of supporting milestones and
schedules to direct that work. This work is behind schedule.
- C-Farm (16 tanks) is supposed to be emptied by September 2006. The
current projection is that it will not be done until at least 2011.
- Currently two S-farm tanks are being retrieved and both are behind
- To date, three tanks have been retrieved right down to the steel. The
retrieval technology has worked very well. Four tanks are currently being
- When the two S-farm tanks are retrieved and all of C farm is done Ð
there will be no space left in the Double Shell Tanks. This is supposed to
happen by 2008, but the work is behind schedule. Once the double shell tanks
are full, no more retrieval will be possible until the Waste Treatment Plant
is operating and starts emptying Double Shell Tanks.
Factors contributing to delays in cleanup:
- Since 1989 when the Tri-Party agreement was signed, 11 Secretaries or
Acting Secretaries have led the U.S. Department of Energy.
- Since 1989, the government has had a revolving door of different
contractors and a parade of different contracting approaches. The U.S.
Department of Energy has tried:
1) Cost-plus contracts
3) Performance-based contracts
- Since 1989, five prime contractors have worked on the Waste Treatment
1) Westinghouse Hanford
2) Lockheed Hanford
3) British Nuclear Fuels Ltd
5) Bechtel National, Inc.
Copyright © Washington State Department of Ecology. See http://www.ecy.wa.gov/copyright.html.