Washington governor says budget cuts will hit nuke cleanup

February 28, 2013 08:42

SEATTLE - Washington state Governor Jay Inslee on Wednesday warned billions of dollars in automatic spending cuts could hamper the US government's ability to clean up the Hanford Nuclear Reservation site in his state, where six underground tanks were last week revealed to be leaking.

Inslee, a Democrat who took office last month, said the six single-shell tanks at the decommissioned nuclear plant near the Columbia River in southern Washington state could leak about 1,000 gallons (3,785 liters) of radioactive sludge annually.

That is in line with the latest U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) estimate released this week, which said the six tanks were leaking at a rate of less than 3 gallons a day.

"These tanks, we were told by the federal government, were stabilized years ago. We know that is not the case," Inslee told reporters in Washington state capital Olympia.

"The federal government has a legally binding obligation to both remove this material and to make sure we curb this leakage."

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