The Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington was home to Native Americans and later to settlers. It turned into an top-secret military workhorse during World War II and the Cold War. Now, it’s one of the most pressing and complex environmental cleanup challenges humanity is facing in the world.

This remote area in southeast Washington is where the federal government made plutonium for bombs during WWII and the Cold War. It’s now home to some of the most toxic contamination on earth, a witch’s brew of chemicals, radioactive waste and defunct structures. In central Hanford, leaking underground tanks full of radioactive sludge await a permanent solution. Meanwhile, a massive $12 billion waste treatment plant, designed to bind up that tank waste into more stable glass logs, has a troubled history.

Anna King is public radio's correspondent in Richland, Washington, covering the seemingly endless complexities of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.


Environment and Planning
9:05 am
Wed March 4, 2015

Daughters of Hanford: A Curious Learner And Her Persistent Passion For Hanford Cleanup

Susan Leckband, 67, is curious and feisty about cleanup at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. She has been a member of the Hanford Advisory Board for 19 years.
Kai-Huei Yau

The Hanford Nuclear Reservation is one of the most contaminated sites on earth. And Susan Leckband is using her natural curiosity to help clean it up.

Read more
Environment and Planning
2:53 pm
Tue February 10, 2015

Hanford Contractor Releases Fresh Plan To Keep Tank Workers Safer

A Hanford contractor has released a plan to improve worker safety at the tank farms.
Anna King Northwest News Network

Hanford Nuclear Reservation officials Tuesday made public their plan to improve safety for workers in the so-called “tank farms.”

Read more
Health and Medicine
4:37 pm
Wed February 4, 2015

Hanford Cleanup Board Asks For Health Analysis On Tank Vapors

An advisory board wants the U.S. Department of Energy and its contractors to better analyze records on the health of Hanford tank farm workers.
Anna King Northwest News Network

The medical histories of radioactive cleanup workers should be examined more closely at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

Read more
Environment and Planning
5:47 pm
Mon February 2, 2015

Obama's Budget Shifts Cleanup Focus At Hanford

A view inside the space between the two walls of Tank AY-102 at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.
U.S. Department of Energy

President Barack Obama’s budget would spend $2.3 billion on cleanup at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in 2016.

Read more
History and Culture
2:55 pm
Mon January 5, 2015

Website Offers Searchable Oral History Archive About Hanford Site

Veronica Taylor, an elder of the Nez Perce tribe, grew up along the Columbia River at Hanford.
Atomic Heritage Foundation

When the federal government decided to make plutonium in southeast Washington, early farmers and whole villages of Native Americans were kicked out. Now, a new collection of oral histories tells some of these stories of the Hanford site.

Read more
Environment and Planning
10:00 am
Wed December 17, 2014

GAO Report Says Hanford Radioactive Waste Tanks Need New Plan

File photo. There are 177 underground radioactive waste tanks at Hanford.
Anna King Northwest News Network

A new report by the federal Government Accountability Office calls for a better plan for leaking tanks of waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state.

Read more
History and Culture
3:51 pm
Fri December 12, 2014

Congress Approves Nuclear History Park At Hanford

File photo of the exterior of the Hanford B Reactor.
Billatq Wikimedia

Congress has approved a new national park in Washington state that commemorates the Manhattan Project at Hanford.

Read more