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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.

Yakama Nation’s Hanford Warrior Russell Jim Dies

File photo of Hanford Reach

A Yakama Nation leader, Russell Jim, has died. The 82-year-old was well-known by tribes and environmentalists across the nation for his fight to clean up Hanford.

For nearly four decades, Jim led the Yakama Nation’s Environmental Restoration and Waste Management Program. He fought to know just what the Hanford nuclear complex released into the air, water and land. And for years, Jim fought to clean it up. He also payed a big role in blocking the plan to make Hanford the nation’s high-level radioactive waste repository.

In February, the Washington Legislature honored Jim with a resolution for his life’s work on Hanford and the environment.

A new documentary called “Russell Jim, A Quiet Warrior” by a Coeur d'Alene Tribal member is set to release this year. In it, Jim talked about how Hanford’s secret mission hid its many releases to the environment for decades.

Hundreds of people mourned his death at the Yakama longhouse. They followed his body in a horse drawn procession at dawn to an Indian burial site in the nearby hills.

According to Yakama tradition his pictures will be put away, and his name won’t be spoken for a year.

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.