Hanford

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.

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Environment and Planning
7:41 am
Mon June 1, 2015

Daughters Of Hanford: The Nagging Mom Of Radioactive Cleanup

U.S. Senator Patty Murray is the fourth-ranking Democrat in the Senate.
Kai-Huei Yau

For decades Patty Murray’s image has been the working mom of the U.S. Senate. Agree with it or not, she’s brought home the bacon: Murray’s funneled billions of federal dollars into Washington state and especially to the Hanford nuclear site.

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Environment and Planning
6:05 pm
Tue May 26, 2015

Feds Strike New Deal On K-West Basin Sludge Cleanup At Hanford

Hanford's ''sister reactors'', the K-East and the K-West Reactors, went into service in 1955.

Two branches of the federal government struck a deal Tuesday on when to clean up radioactive sludge near the Columbia River.

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Environment and Planning
5:40 pm
Wed May 13, 2015

Federal Court Decision Could Alter Cleanup Timelines At Hanford

The Hanford Nuclear Reservation is home to 56 million gallons of radioactive sludge in aging underground tanks.
Tobin Fricke Wikimedia

Federal courts may force the U.S. Department of Energy to adhere to new timelines to clean up the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington state.

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History and Culture
8:38 am
Wed April 1, 2015

Daughters of Hanford: Manhattan Project Secretary Locked Up Secret Files

Sue Olson, 94, was a Manhattan Project-era secretary at Hanford during World War II. She locked her filing drawer anytime she left her office.
Kai-Huei Yau

When Sue Olson started working for the U.S. Army Corps as a young woman, she first heard about Hanford in an urgent message. “Don’t come to Hanford -- it’s rattlesnakes, sagebrush and dust storms.”

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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