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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.

Senators, Congressman Pile On To Call For Hanford Vapor Fix

Tobin Fricke
Wikimedia -

For the third time this week there are calls to protect workers from hazardous vapors at Hanford. This time from Washington’s congressional delegation.

Workers say fumes from 56 million gallons of radioactive waste are sickening them. On Wednesday, the State of Washington announced it would sue the federal government unless a new plan for action was devised.

Then a day later, a coalition of citizens said they would sue too.

Now, Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and Rep. Adam Smith said in a letter to the U.S. Department of Energy that they’re pleased last month yielded an independent study of Hanford’s tank vapors by Savannah River National Laboratory. But now it’s time to implement the changes called for in that review.

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.