Report slams problems at nuclear waste site

RICHLAND, Wash. (AP) — Federal investigators say problems first identified six years ago continue the plague the multi-billion-dollar Hanford vitrification plant that would be used to treat some of the nation’s deadliest nuclear waste.

The Tri-City Herald reports that the Government Accountability Office said in a report released Tuesday that the site’s contractor, Bechtel National, has not fully completed planned corrections, and the corrections it has made have not prevented continuing quality assurance problems. The report also criticized the Department of Energy for its oversight of the project.

The $17 billion plant has been under construction since 2002 to turn up to 56 million gallons of radioactive waste into a stable glass form for disposal. The waste is left from the past production of plutonium for the nation’s nuclear weapons program.

The GAO recommended that Bechtel be directed to find out the full extent of problems at the vitrification plant.