March 26, 2014

Long-Term Storage of Cesium and Strontium at the Hanford Site

One of the many significant cleanup challenges faced by the Department of Energy (Department) is the ongoing management of stored cesium and strontium capsules at the Hanford Site's Waste Encapsulation and Storage Facility (WESF). 

We found that the Richland Operations Office (Richland) has initiated action to begin to address some of the challenges posed by continued storage of cesium and strontium capsules in the WESF.  Such action appears prudent in that continued storage of the capsules in WESF is not cost effective and may pose additional risks to the environment associated with beyond design threats at the Hanford Site.  While Richland is considering options for dry storage, there are no definitive plans to move the capsules to a safer and more cost effective storage system.

The Department is aware of the current safety conditions associated with the storage of cesium and strontium capsules at WESF and has taken actions to mitigate any risks associated with WESF.  Furthermore, we acknowledge the budgetary challenges facing the Department, and its impact on moving the capsules into dry storage.  We did not make any formal recommendations; however, we suggested that the Richland Operations Office expeditiously proceed with its plans to pursue a dry storage alternative to support transfer of the capsules out of WESF at the earliest possible timeframe.

Topic: National Security & Safety