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Down by the River: Stories of Hanford is an audio podcast devoted to unpacking the long and nuanced history of the world's first industrial nuclear reactor. Built along the Columbia River, the Hanford Nuclear Site produced 60% of the plutonium used in the US nuclear arsenal. At the end of the Cold War, the mission of Hanford transitioned from production to remediation of the area. When it shut down production, Hanford had 1,700 identified waste sites, 500 contaminated buildings, and 56 million gallons of radioactive and chemical waste stored underground. Cleanup at Hanford – which has been ongoing for 26 years – will last for decades to come, cost billions of taxpayer dollars, and require technology not yet invented. On each podcast, we will explore the science and the personal stories of Hanford to give listeners a deeper and broader understanding of a place that is a significant part of our country's past, and a difficult challenge for our future.
Logo by Jake Kelly. Theme music by Raphi Gottesman. Hosted by Danny Noonan
Episode Eight: Hanford's Whistleblowers
Whistleblowers are one of the most contraversial issues at Hanford. This episode we learn not only about whistleblowers, but the organizations and members of our federal government who work to protect them.
Episode Seven: Cold War Patriots & Youth Involvement with Hanford
Fay Hartje, a student at the University of Washington, helped produce this month's episode. She tells the story of one of the first workers at Hanford. She also interviews a member of Cold War Patriots, an organization that helps former nuclear workers get compensation if they were exposed on the job.
Episode Six: Hanford Through the Eyes of 7th Graders
Students from Mercer International Middle School take over the podcast this month. After researching Hanford over the course of ten weeks, a group of 7th graders recorded a special episode. There are stories about nuclear weapons, Native Americans, the Hanford residents forced to move during WWII, and radioactive rabbit poop.
Episode Five: Concerns of Future Generations
With cleanup at Hanford expected to last until at least 2060, it is imperative that younger generations get involved. This episode WPSR worked with students at the University of Washington. They researched, wrote, recorded, and edited stories on Hanford’s leaking tanks, the federal response to cleanup, nuclear safety procedures, waste management, and family life in Richland.
Episode Four: Hanford: Blurring the Line Between Science and Science Fiction
This episode we look at some stories from Hanford that seem like they could be from a science fiction book, but are actually true. The tale of the Atomic Man who suffered the worst accident at Hanford. We look at the finals days of the Z-Plant, one of the most dangerous places at Hanford. Students from the University of Washington have a story about Hanford’s top secret era. And finally we look at scientist out at Hanford that are listen to the soundtrack of the universe.
Episode Three: Hanford in Song and on Stage
Hanford has inspired many artists over the years. This month we speak with Elizabeth Heffron about a play she wrote that takes place at Hanford, and Marika, a musician that was inspired to write about Hanford after learning about the leaking tanks.
Episode Two: A Positively Engaging Episode on Radioactivity
Radiation is all around us, but what is it? This month we speak with two scientists about this transmission of energy that gives us sunlight and cell phone service, but also has the potential to cause cancer. We also learn how a couple of jars of radioactive mulberry jam caused a panic at Hanford and how baby teeth influenced the Cold War.
Episode One: Hanford and Socially Responsible Physicians
A short history of Hanford, the most contaminated site in the Western Heimpshere and PSR's involvement in unlocking the serect and raising awareness.