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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.

Song About Hanford Furloughs Picks Up Viewers On YouTube

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Strickling Family
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RICHLAND, Wash. -- Jason Strickling and his wife Lana of Pasco, Wash. are planning some extra time with the kids this summer. That’s because she works for a Hanford Nuclear Reservation contractor in southeast Washington and her employer is requiring her to take about five weeks of unpaid leave before September.

The federal budget cuts known as the sequester are forcing a total of 2,500 workers at Hanford to take unpaid time off. Together the Stricklings came up with a song about the furloughs to the tune of the Harry Belafonte’s Banana Boat and put it on YouTube.

The song has only been up for a few days and already collected hundreds of hits. Thursday more than 200 Hanford employees also were laid off because of the national budget cuts.

On the Web:

Stricklings’ "Furlough Comes" video - YouTube

Copyright 2013 Northwest Public Radio

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.