Cleanup estimate for Hanford nuclear site increases by $82B

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HANFORD, Wash. (AP) — A new estimate from the U.S. Department of Energy raises remaining environmental cleanup costs at the former nuclear weapons production site in Washington state by $82 billion.

The Tri-City Herald reports the 2018 financial report brings the total cleanup costs to $242 billion at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

The new estimate reflects the costs of retrieving waste from tanks, and closing or disposing of tanks. The site's underground tanks hold about 56 million gallons (212 million liters) of radioactive waste.

The estimate also includes construction of the $17 billion vitrification plant and decades of turning waste into a glass form for disposal.

The 580-square-mile (1,500-square-kilometer) site became contaminated following the production of about two-thirds of the country's plutonium for nuclear weapons programs.

Hanford, located in Richland about 200 miles from Seattle, for decades made plutonium for nuclear weapons and is now the largest depository of radioactive defense waste that must be cleaned. It's the most contaminated nuclear site in the United States.

It contains about 56 million gallons of radioactive waste, most of it in 177 underground tanks.

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