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.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

A Hanford nuclear site whistleblower says he’s ready to get back to work. He settled his legal battle Wednesday for $4.1million.

U.S. Senate

Walter Tamosaitis, a high-level whistleblower at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, settled Wednesday with his former employer federal contractor URS.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

The 70th Anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki, Japan was remembered Sunday night in Richland, Washington. About 50 people gathered near the Columbia River to remember the day.

Kai-Huei Yau

About 10,000 people visit southeast Washington state’s Hanford Nuclear Reservation every year. And after a few hours on the bus, some are dazed like tourists who’ve seen one Italian cathedral too many.

On those tours, they have guides. But even folks who don’t come to Hanford’s physical site have a "tour guide" -- someone who can translate the language of Hanford and its nuclear legacy: Liz Mattson.

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.

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

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.

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.”

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.

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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