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00000179-65ef-d8e2-a9ff-f5ef8d430000The 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.00000179-65ef-d8e2-a9ff-f5ef8d440000Anna King is public radio's correspondent in Richland, Washington, covering the seemingly endless complexities of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

Japan Looks To Richland-Made Filters To Treat Radioactive Water

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Anna King
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Northwest News Network
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";s:

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.

The filtration system looks like five large shipping containers. Except, they’re awfully shiny and have a lot of high-tech whiz-bang pipes, electronics and tanks inside.

It’s sort of like a supersized Brita. The systems will filter about 79,000-gallons of water per day targeting radioactive strontium.

Strontium is nasty stuff - and workers on the Fukushima site face exposure to it right now.

John Raymont, the founder of Kurion, hopes that soon his company will contract with the federal government to use this technology right here in the Northwest.

"This is going to demonstrate for them in real world, in real time whether or not this technology really works and give them a real opportunity to think about whether they can deploy the same concept for the tank farm here at Hanford," Raymont says.

This filter system for Japan won’t clean up the water totally. But most of the highly radioactive stuff will be taken out.

Kurion was founded in 2008, and has operations around the  world. Recently it added about 100 engineers and workers here in Richland to design the filter.

This system will be demonstrated here for a Japanese nuclear delegation in early July -- right before it’s put on a gigantic airplane.