It’s easy to forget sometimes that Oregon and southwest Washington are just downriver from the nation’s most contaminated nuclear site, where fuel was produced for atomic bombs as far back as the 1940s. Back then, the Hanford Nuclear Reservation was top secret, but now it’s a tourist destination and a point of contention between Washington state and the federal government.
The main sticking point between the two entities is 53 million gallons of radioactive waste stored in underground tanks, some of which has leaked into the soil. Washington Governor Chris Gregoire has expressed concern over the slow pace of the cleanup process and the amount of money budgeted for it. Last week, Gregoire announced she and Attorney General Rob McKenna are suing the federal government to try to hasten the cleanup effort and make the deadlines for the process enforceable by law. While Hanford watchdog groups commend the governor and attorney general for the suit, members of the state’s congressional delegation say it may not be such a good idea.
What are your concerns about Hanford? Do you live near the nuclear reservation? Have you ever worked there? What impact has the nuclear site had on your life?
- Anna King: Richland correspondent for the Northwest News Network
- Jane Hedges Program manager for the Washington State Nuclear Waste Program
- Gerry Pollet: Executive director of Heart of America Northwest
- Ben Johnson: Worked at Hanford from 1956 to 1995 and retired as engineering research manager in charge of the tank remediation program