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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.

Sen. Murray Hopes New Leadership Brings Change To Hanford

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US Senate

Washington Senator Patty Murray says she’s looking for some change at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation with new leadership at the top. A new manager is taking over at a key contracting company that handles the leaking radioactive tank farms. And the Department of Energy has a new secretary, Ernest Moniz.

Murray toured the southeast Washington nuclear site Thursday to get briefings on the massive waste treatment plant being built and the ongoing cleanup of radioactive waste.

“We have a new secretary of Energy right now and it’s very clear to me that he’s on the ground running and working to put that plan together, both in the short term and the long term,” she says.

Murray is pushing to maintain federal funding for the nuclear site, despite controversies over its troubled waste treatment plant and leaking tanks of waste leftover from plutonium production during WWII and the Cold War.

On the Web:

Hanford - US Department of Energy

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.