Hanford pumps out contents of leaking nuclear waste tank

Radioactive Waste Cleanup Continues At Hanford Nuclear Reservation

A sign is seen as you enter the world's largest environmental cleanup project at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation June 30, 2005 near Richland, Washington.

RICHLAND, Wash. — A leaking radioactive waste storage tank on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation has been pumped of its contents.

The Department of Energy says Tank AY-102 was pumped “to the limits” of current technologies.

The wastes are left over from the production of plutonium for nuclear weapons.

Tank AY-102 was taken out of service in 2012 after it was discovered that nuclear waste from the inner tank had leaked into the space between the inner and outer walls of the double-shelled tank. The waste was contained in that space and the Energy Department says there is no sign that any leaked into the environment.

Waste retrieval began last March and 725,000 gallons of radioactive and chemcal wastes have been removed. That amounts of 98 percent of the tank’s original waste volume.