There does not appear to be an easy route through the mountain of paperwork standing between Hanford nuclear waste and a storage site in New Mexico.
Officials in that state quickly responded to Wednesday’s announcement by the Department of Energy that it wants to send up to three million gallons of waste inside leaking underground storage tanks at Hanford to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in Carlsbad.
New Mexico U.S. Senator Tom Udall said the WIPP facility is forbidden to accept Hanford waste.
Nuclear watchdog groups have also said they will challenge the plan which was highlighted in a post tour speech by Washington Governor Jay Inslee.
Managers of the Hanford tank farms also pointed out that permits would be needed from New Mexico and for any of the engineering plans they choose for the technical job of draining and treating nuclear waste from storage tanks.
They said the preferred transportation method of other forms of waste from Hanford to WIPP has been by truck, but they did not know if that is how this waste which would be transferred into as many as 40,000 barrels would be moved.
Whatever method they do choose to drain the tanks would take an estimated two to three years and that’s only after all of the approvals.
In the meantime, they admit there is no way to repair the leaking tanks, which they believe are releasing an estimated 600 gallons per year into the soil.