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Hanford

The Hanford Nuclear Reservation is a 586-square mile site, about half the size of Rhode Island, on the Columbia River in southeastern Washington. Is it owned by the federal government and operated by the US Department of Energy. Hanford is a former nuclear weapons facility that produced plutonium for atomic bombs. It was one of three sites in the US that worked on the Manhattan Project in 1943. Plutonium for “Fat Man,” the atomic bomb that devastated Nagasaki on August 9th, 1945, came from Hanford. This bomb killed over 80,000 people, mostly civilians. This figure does not include families that suffered cancer generations later.

Hanford is the most contaminated nuclear site in the Western Hemisphere. Its radioactive and toxic wastes pose serious health and environmental threats to the Northwest. In 1987, Hanford’s plutonium-production mission ended. Hanford is now the world’s largest environmental cleanup project. Cleanup is estimated to cost $130 billion and take over one hundred years. Find out more about the urgent need for Hanford cleanup.

In May of 1989, Washington State, the US Department of Ecology, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Energy entered a legally enforceable schedule to clean up Hanford over the next thirty years. In 2009, both Washington and Oregon filed a lawsuit against the federal government for cleanup delays at Hanford.

Washington State has played an integral part in the nuclear history of the United States and the world, the effects of which have been felt locally and globally. In 2010, Washington PSR launched the Washington Nuclear Museum and Education Center (WANMEC) as a community resource for information on Hanford and on Washington State's role in nuclear proliferation.

Please check out our partners in this work for more detailed information; Hanford Challenge, Hanford Watch, Heart of America Northwest and Columbia Riverkeeper. Consider how you can join us all in the critical effort to bring Hanford cleanup into everyday conversation and awareness.  

Additional resources:

Oregon/Washington PSR Joint Nuclear Power Task Force - Read about our work to shut down the Columbia Generating Station, the only active commercial nuclear power plant in our region, and to prevent new reactors from being built.

Nuclear Power: No Solution to Climate Change - Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS)

Curriculum for teaching about Hanford - Washington Nuclear Museum and Educational Center (WANMEC)

Particles on the Wall - An art, literature, and historical memorabilia exhibit with a Hanford focus.

Hanford's Toxic Legacy - Article by John Howieson, MD and Sean Tenney for The Folded Crane, Fall 2011 edition

The Public Health Impact of Hanford - Article by Sean Tenney for The Folded Crane, Spring 2012 edition

Oregon PSR's 2013 Greenfield Peace Writing Scholarship - Find out about our scholarship for Oregon high school juniors and seniors, which in 2013 had a Hanford focus.

Inslee proclaims no tolerance for Hanford leaks - Article by John Stang at Crosscut, February 16th, 2013