In an area considered by a number of scientists to be among the most dangerous in relationship to nuclear waste, geologists have discovered new fault lines in the earth crust. They maintain these fault lines could cause an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.5, near an area of significant risk to the Pacific Northwest.
The Columbia Generating Station is located on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation seeking an operating license through 2023.
History records the development of nine plutonium production reactors at Hanford. They encompass a 14 mile length in southeastern Washington, outside the spralling Tri-cities of Pasco, Kennewick and Richland. These reactors were built during the war and at one time were estimated to produce ¼ of the world’s supply of plutonium. The B Reactor was, according to records, the first complete nuclear reactor in world history.
The problem is the waste management from the closed plants and the potential risks related to it. Added to the concerns about earthquakes in the Pacific Northwest, the reactors, along with the fault lines recently discovered, are of significant concern to scientists, especially since the Japanese quake of 2011.
According to recent news reports, plant operators at Hanford are ahead of schedule in cocooning the waste so that the product contamination does not affect the environment, the ground water and the Columbia River that runs through the area and winds through Washington and Oregon.
The annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science is in progress, as scientists examine a variety of issues involving climate change, geological concerns and other scientific issues affecting the globe. John Anderson of the University of Nevada has underlined the seriousness of the earthquake potential in the Northwest as this: “The ground motions that we have from Tohoku (Japan) may actually be an indication that there could be much stronger shaking in the coastal areas of British Columbia, Washington and Oregon.”
Add the nuclear reactor generator and the Hanford Plant, with three reactors yet to cocoon, and the concern for an earthquake of major proportions worries scientists now studying the environment of the Pacific Northwest and the similar issues facing it that resemble those of Japan.