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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 Pressing For Historic Preservation Of Hanford Sites

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Hanford.gov. File photo from 1938 of the main entrance of Hanford High School.

Senator Patty Murray is pressing legislation in the U.S. Senate that would make some historic sites at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington part of the national parks system.

The Democrat toured the historic site of Hanford High School Thursday. The building was part of the town that was forcibly vacated to make way for the secretive Manhattan Project during World War II. Now, the remains of the building sit amid the brush near the Columbia River.

Murray says she wants these sites preserved and available for public visits along with the more famous “B” Reactor. “We have a chance now to preserve some areas far into the future. It’s an opportunity we can’t miss.”

Murray says the Manhattan Project parks bill has passed out of Senate committee and she hopes it will go before the full Senate soon. After that, the bill would still need to mesh with a similar House bill.