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Environment and Planning
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.

Hanford Watchdogs, Union Intend To Sue Feds Over Tank Vapors

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Anna King
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Northwest News Network
Three groups say intend to sue the U.S. Department of Energy and a contractor over vapors from storage tanks at Hanford.

Thursday three groups with ties to the Hanford Nuclear Reservation announced they intend to sue the U.S. Department of Energy and its contractor.

Seattle-based watchdog group Hanford Challenge, a Richland workers’ union, and the Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility are piling on. They say there’s been a lack of action at the Hanford site to correct worker exposures to harmful tank vapors.

The groups notified Energy and Hanford contractor Washington River Protection Solutions about the intent to sue in 90 days.

Hanford is home to 56 million gallons of radioactive waste in leaking underground tanks. The groups say workers have complained about vapors from that waste making them ill for decades without enough action.

This all comes just one day after Washington state officials announced their plans to sue over the same issues.