Senate committee holds hearing on leaking tanks at Hanford

State lawmakers in Olympia get some answers today from the Department of Ecology and others about the six leaking single shell tanks at the Hanford site.

This morning, several lawmakers held a Senate committee hearing to understand the problem.

People who spoke at the hearing say the long term solution to the leaking tank problem is building the Waste Treatment Plant, and getting it back on track.

Representatives from the Department of Ecology, Bechtel National and the Attorney General's office spoke at the hearing.

Russell Daniel, a manager at Bechtel, says crews are 80% done designing the plant, and construction is 50% complete.

Department of Ecology officials insist there is no immediate risk to the public while the tanks are leaking.

They say four of the six tanks are eight miles away from the Columbia River.

The other two are five miles away.

They say it would take decades to create any type of public hazard.

"There's no risk to our agriculture community, no risk to irrigated farm land, no risk to the river, the people in Richland that get their drinking water, and the people in the Tri-Cities, from the Columbia River. It is tested frequently, and meets all state and federal standards" said Jane Hedges, Washington state Department of Ecology.

Department of Ecology officials say four of the tanks that are leaking have 55,000 gallons of hazardous waste in them, and the other two have even more.

Governor Jay Inslee has called for new tanks to be built.

But new double shell tanks can cost up to $500 million, and take five to seven years to construct.

To give you some perspective on their size, they're about the size of a basketball court and nearly 50 feet tall.

The Waste Treatment Plant is expected to be operational in 2019.

The plan is to take waste from the tanks and turn them into glass like logs for long-term storage.

Crews expect to complete the tank waste treatment by 2047.

There are 177 underground tanks at Hanford.

149 are single shell tanks.

28 are double shell tanks.