Governor Inslee has promised a zero-tolerance approach moving forward.
Department of Energy officials stress there is zero public risk at this time, but do admit,.at some time in the future this nuclear sludge will seep into our groundwater.
The leaking tank was built in the 1940's, and even though it was stablized in '95, there are 148 more single shell tanks just as old and just as outdate on the reservation.
In a press conference Friday afternoon Governor Jay Inslee said, "Washington State has a zero tolerance policy on
radioactive leakage. We will not tolerate any leaks of this material to the environment."
However, that's kind of like closing the barn door after the cows have already escaped. Although officials don't know how much waste has leaked out, it's estimated to be in the range of 150 to 300 gallons a year.
The Department of Energy says the monitoring wells near the tank have not yet detected higher radiation levels.
The governor said the state was assured years ago that such problems had been dealt with and he warned that spending cuts would create further risks at Hanford. Inslee said the cleanup must be a priority for the federal government and added, "This is both a moral and a legal obligation of the federal government to the citizens of the state of Washington and we'll do everything in our power to make sure that it is fulfilled".
The VIT plant under construction to treat the waste is billions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule.
Federal Investigators are on the scene right now, and Governor Inslee says he will have a face-to-face with Energy Secretary Steven Chu next week.