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
5:40 pm
Mon October 20, 2014

Hanford Whistleblower Investigation Folds With Few Available Documents

Donna Busche was fired last winter from the Waste Treatment Plant project at Hanford..
Credit Anna King / Northwest News Network

A seven-month federal investigation into the firing of a top safety manager at Hanford came up inconclusive Monday.

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Environment and Planning
5:45 pm
Wed October 15, 2014

EPA Fines Hanford For Stagnating Radioactive Waste Near Columbia River

The K-East and K-West reactors were shut down in 1970 and 1971.
Credit U.S. Department of Energy

The Environmental Protection Agency intends to fine the U.S. Department of Energy up to $10,000 per week if radioactive waste just a stone's throw from the Columbia River isn’t cleaned up.

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Government and Politics
2:16 pm
Fri October 3, 2014

Inslee Announces Court Action In Hanford Clean-Up Fight

Credit Tobin Fricke / Wikimedia

The state of Washington is going back to federal court over clean-up at Hanford -- the nation’s largest nuclear waste site.

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History and Culture
5:29 pm
Thu September 25, 2014

70 Years Ago: First Full-Scale Nuclear Reactor At Hanford Starts Up

When the B Reactor at Hanford began operating in September 1944, about 64,000 rods of metallic uranium, known as fuel elements, were placed inside the reactor core.
Credit U.S. Department of Energy

Seventy years ago Friday, an 11-month frenzied construction project went hot. It all happened in the remote southeast Washington desert.

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Environment and Planning
8:16 am
Thu July 17, 2014

Hanford Workers Say They’re Not Satisfied With Working Conditions At Tank Farms

Dozens of workers from the Hanford Nuclear Reservation gathered for public meeting organized watchdog group Hanford Challenge.
Credit Anna King / Northwest News Network

Hanford Nuclear Reservation workers who are worried about getting sick turned out in droves for a public meeting Wednesday night in Richland organized by a Seattle-area watchdog called Hanford Challenge.

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Environment and Planning
7:46 am
Thu July 10, 2014

Hanford Vapors: It's Still Difficult To Track Down The Solution

Handheld air monitors are used in the Hanford Nuclear Reservation's tank farms to help keep workers safe. But a human nose can detect far less concentrated chemicals, than this high-tech machinery.
Credit Anna King / Northwest News Network

Since the spring, a run of workers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation have needed medical attention from exposure to chemical vapors. On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Energy led a bus load of journalists to points across the site to show off what they’re doing to keep workers safe.

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Environment and Planning
6:42 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

Washington State, Energy Department Continue Talks Over Hanford Tank Cleanup

Credit Anna King / Northwest News Network

  Washington state and the U.S. Department of Energy just gave themselves a 40-day deadline. They need a clear cleanup plan for leaking tanks of radioactive waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

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Energy
8:06 am
Mon June 9, 2014

Japan Looks To Richland-Made Filters To Treat Radioactive Water

John Raymont, founder and president of Kurion, stands inside one of his company’s containerized mobile strontium filter units. These shipping-container-like machines will be shipped from the build site in Richland to Japan’s crippled nuclear plant in July
Anna King Northwest News Network

Japan’s crippled nuclear plant is bleeding hazardous radioactive water at a mind-staggering rate. Officials at Fukushima Daiichi are filling 37-foot-tall tanks nearly every other day. Now, in southeast Washington, a company called Kurion is developing and building a mobile filter system to help deal with that troublesome radioactive wastewater.

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Environment and Planning
6:17 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

Court-Ordered Negotiations Between Feds, Washington State Are Up

File photo of a nuclear waste storage tank at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.
Credit Anna King / Northwest News Network

This week is the deadline for the State of Washington and the U.S. Department of Energy to reach an agreement on how to clean up radioactive tank waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. The two sides can’t agree on a timeline.

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