Savannah River Site officials recently discovered a new crack in an aging Cold War-era storage tank holding high-level nuclear waste.
The crack in Tank 4 was identified as a potential leak site during an annual visual inspection. The crack is high enough on the tank wall that nuclear waste won’t seep out, according to a Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board weekly report.
Cleaning up the tanks has been the center of a dispute between South Carolina officials and the federal government. The state Department of Health and Environmental Control has threatened to fine the federal government more than $150 million if it does not meet cleanup deadlines.
The site has 51 radioactive-waste tanks, six of which are no longer in use. Many of the tanks, which have been used since the 1950s and ’60s, when the site helped make nuclear weapons, are cracked, rusty or have leaked.
An environmental group said the Nov. 15 report on the crack underscores the need for waste to be removed and processed quickly.
“As further degradation of the aging tanks is certain, the dangerous nuclear waste needs to be dealt with promptly and Congress must provide proper funding levels for that urgent mission,” said Tom Clements, the Southeastern nuclear campaign coordinator for Friends of the Earth.