Sunday’s article about Hanford is alarming, not so much because of safety (though that’s serious), but over taxpayer expense.
Bechtel is receiving $12.3 billion to create nonleaking tanks for long-term storage of 56 million gallons of radioactive waste. The U.S. government authorized Bechtel to commence work on what amounts to sealing up pumps and mixing equipment inside tanks with the expectation that the moving parts will last 30 years. Tests prove it lasts months.
Yet Bechtel is welding tanks shut with the mixing equipment inside.
I wouldn’t expect Bechtel to put the kibosh on anything once construction starts; if you can bill out a worker who costs $85 per hour for $200 per hour, it makes sense to keep billing the U.S. taxpayer. If there is a stop order, Bechtel can charge for that. If a safety review shows rework must be performed, the invoice to the taxpayer will be billions of overruns.
For those who think safety isn’t an issue, read Wikipedia’s article on the “Tokaimura nuclear accident.” Three workers died from radiation. Dozens of emergency workers and nearby residents were hospitalized. Hundreds of thousands of nearby residents stayed indoors for 24 hours. All that was from just 11 gallons that achieved critical mass.