Historic Hanford Contamination Is Worse Than Expected: Oregon Experts Weigh In

By Oregon Department of Energy

In late June, the U.S. Department of Energy reported that radioactive contamination beneath a building at the Hanford Nuclear Site is worse than originally thought.

The Hanford 324 Building is located on the south end of Hanford – in what’s known as the 300 Area – just 1,000 feet from the Columbia River. The US DOE has known about one spill under the building for over a decade, and has been working on a plan for cleanup of the area while also making progress in other areas of Hanford since production turned to cleanup at the site in the 1980s.

The agency knew the contamination in the soil was serious, but sampling this spring found unexpected contamination deeper in the soil and outside the previously known spill area. So what does that mean? Oregon Department of Energy Assistant Director for Nuclear Safety and Emergency Preparedness Maxwell Woods and Hanford Hydrogeologist Tom Sicilia weigh in.

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