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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.

Hanford B Reactor Now Officially A National Park

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Tobin Fricke
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Wikimedia - tinyurl.com/h99dl7h

Hanford officials and community boosters In southeast Washington are hosting a celebration Thursday at an historic nuclear reactor. A signing ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday made the Manhattan Project National Historical Park official.

The federal departments of Energy and Interior have agreed to co-manage three Manhattan Project sites across the country including the Hanford B Reactor. The presently limited public access should increase in coming years.

At Hanford there are already organized government tours and volunteer docents. Visitors can tour the reactor where the plutonium for some of the nation’s first atomic bombs were made. The other two locations that are part of the new Manhattan Project National Historical Park are at Los Alamos in New Mexico and Oak Ridge in Tennessee.

The Tri-Cities and the other gateway communities hope national park status will provide a boost to their economies.

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.