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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.

Moniz Reshuffles Department of Energy Management

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NASA

The head of the U.S. Department of Energy has decided to reshuffle the management of the agency. Those changes at the top may shift how cleanup gets done at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington.

U.S. Secretary of Energy, Ernest Moniz, has added another top manager position to his ranks. The new hire will watch over Energy’s environmental cleanup work.

This means that work at Hanford will be separated out from a much larger nuclear security program. That might give more attention to cleanup at Hanford.

The Obama Administration nominated Beth Robinson for the new undersecretary position. She’s a Ph.D. in geophysics and has been the Chief Financial Officer at NASA since 2009.

Washington State’s Senator Patty Murray and Oregon Senator Ron Wyden say they’re encouraged by Secretary Moniz’s decision.

On the Web:

Beth Robinson profile - NASA

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.