Washington State: An Explosive Discovery

An Explosive Discovery

The government's Hanford nuclear reservation in Washington state has been virtually shut down since 1988, but it keeps spewing out bad news. Last week a federal advisory panel warned that wastes stored at the reservation in buried steel tanks could explode, spreading radiation for many miles.

According to the panel, 64 million gallons of wastes kept in 170 tanks for up to 40 years show signs of chemical instability. The panel reported that heat within some of the tanks could become great enough to ignite a spontaneous chemical explosion or a spark could set off the combustible mixture.

The U.S. eventually...