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FAS Intelligence Resource Program

Hanford Site
Tank Farm

Photo Date: 17 April 1978
Photo Number: 303 058 001

The principal function of the tank farms is the safe storage of byproduct material left over from plutonium extraction operations prior to permanent disposal. This byproduct material has no useful purpose and is stored in 177 underground storage tanks with a cumulative total of 55 million gallons capacity, with individual tanks ranging up to 1,000,000 gallons (pictured). This waste material is composed of toxic chemicals that were used to remove fission products from irradiated reactor fuel. The more hazardous materials can be divided into four groups: (1) the high heat load tanks, where water must be added periodically to keep tank temperatures within allowable limits, (2) ferrocyanide tanks, which are explosive at certain elevated temperatures, (3) hydrogen generating tanks, and (4) tanks with organics that are flammable. Little is known about the exact chemical content of the tanks; as a result, tank characterization is a crucial, ongoing activity. Approximately 2,300 personnel support tank farm activities; about 700 are in the operations organization and are at the tank farms regularly.


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Updated Tuesday, December 30, 1997 10:19:25 AM