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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.

Groups Unveil Plans For Redeveloping Hanford

Washington Closure Hanford
File photo of Hanford's 300 Area, near the Columbia River, after the clean-up of about 50 acres.

Community leaders in southeast Washington are looking to develop parts of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation as a prime spot for tourists.

A new plan unveiled Monday proposes to develop bike trails, boat launches and interpretive centers -- after the nuclear site is cleaned up.

The Hanford site is where secretive plutonium production happened during World War II and the Cold War.

The new concept is being billed as a starting point for a community conversation on the future of the Hanford site. Some of the land near the Columbia River may be cleaned up in the next two to three years. And the Tri-Cities development and tourism groups are eager to open up that land to visitors.

Kris Watkins of the Tri-Cities Visitor and Convention Bureau says the lure isn’t just the history but the beauty of the remote area "to be able to experience the B Reactor, the educational opportunities that are out there, as well as going out there to get some great exercise.”

The plan is being shared with the community in several meetings later this month.

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.