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Originally published Friday, February 15, 2013 at 1:53 PM

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Hanford nuclear tank in Wash. is leaking liquids

A waste tank is leaking radioactive liquids at the nation's most contaminated nuclear site, raising new concerns about delays and budget overruns in a plan to treat material at the federal Hanford site.

Associated Press

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OLYMPIA, Wash. —

A waste tank is leaking radioactive liquids at the nation's most contaminated nuclear site, raising new concerns about delays and budget overruns in a plan to treat material at the federal Hanford site.

The U.S. Department of Energy said Friday that liquid levels are decreasing in one of 177 underground tanks at the nuclear reservation. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said the tank is leaking liquids in the range of 150 to 300 gallons annually.

"I am alarmed about this on many levels," Inslee said at a Friday afternoon news conference. "This raises concerns, not only about the existing leak ... but also concerning the integrity of the other single shell tanks of this age."

The tanks hold millions of gallons of a highly radioactive stew left from decades of plutonium production for nuclear weapons. The agency said monitoring wells near the tank have not detected higher radiation levels.

Inslee said the state was told such problems had been dealt with years ago and were under control.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu said the federal government must not waiver in its commitment to clean up the highly contaminated site, Inslee told reporters.

A plant under construction to treat the waste is billions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule.

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Dininny reported from Yakima, Wash.

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