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State won’t extend Hanford deadline a third time

OLYMPIA — Washington state will not give the federal government a third extension of the deadline for coming up with a way to resolve the dispute over cleaning up waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. 

Unless the U.S. Department of Energy comes up with a plan in the  next 30 days, the state and the feds likely are headed to court over the cleanup. Again.

The department is under a court order to clean up Hanford, which has tanks holding decades of waste from the construction of the nation's nuclear arsenal. Some of those tanks are leaking, but the process to pump out the waste and either treat it or put it in more secure tanks that would have to be built will take years. The court set up a timeline for all that to happen 

In 2011 the department started telling the state it wasn't going to meet some of the deadlines. This spring, the state and the department each submitted new timelines, but neither agreed to the other's plan. They've negotiated, and the state has agreed to extend the deadline for an agreement twice. Friday Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson told the department they wouldn't agree to another extension, which means the state could go to court on Oct. 5 and file a "petition for relief", essentially asking a judge to resolve the dispute.


Sign up: Hanford Reach wildflower tours

NATIVE PLANTS — Spring wildflower tours at Hanford Reach National Monument have proved so popular, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is doubling the number of tours this year — and asking people to sign up for a lottery to fill the slots.

This year’s tours are April 25 and 27 and May 8 and 10.

In 2013, the tours were on a first-come, first-served basis and filled in 21 seconds.  

The tours are within the Arid Lands Ecology Reserve of the Monument and may include the top of Rattlesnake Mountain, weather permitting. Viewing stops are planned along the tour route.

Weather will also play a decisive role in the quality and quantity of the wildflower show. 

“We’re a bit concerned that the wildflowers may not be as spectacular due to the very dry spring we’re having,” said Larry Klimek, Hanford Reach National Monument Manager. 

“However, there are always things to see and learn about on the Monument.  Even in an off year, the plants are worth seeing, and the guides are knowledgeable on a variety of topics related to the Monument.”

Court to Obama: Follow the law on waste repository

The federal government must resume work on the Yucca Mountain repository in Nevada that would store the high-level nuclear waste from Hanford and other sites around the country, a federal appeals court said today.
In what amounts to a judicial smackdown of the Obama administration, the court said the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Obama administration can't override Congress, which ordered the repository built in 2002.
Washington state, which is the home to an estimated 56 million gallons of highly toxic nuclear waste from the production of nuclear warheads at Hanford, had joined the lawsuit against the commission. Along with South Carolina and some residents of the Tri-Cities, Washington sought a writ of mandamus, or order from the court for the federal government to follow the law.  Today they got what they wanted …

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, go inside the blog.

Nuclear waste leaking into soil at Hanford

Hanford is the most contaminated site in the western hemisphere and, twenty-five years into the cleanup, there are still new challenges to face. It's not like there weren't dangerous hurdles to begin with when you consider he facts:

-56 million gallons of high-level radioactive waste stews in underground storage tanks and awaits treatment and long term storage.

-80 square miles of contaminated groundwater threatens the Columbia River.

-Eight cocooned reactors await radioactive decay in place near the rivershore. 

That said, the latest bad news from the AP shouldn't come as a surprise but it is none the less a set back as more cancer-causing isotopes are leaking into soil only five miles from the Columbia River. This is the cost of delays as the tanks designed to temporarily hold waste fall apart. From the AP:

An underground tank holding some of the worst radioactive waste at the nation’s most contaminated nuclear site might be leaking into the soil.

The U.S. Energy Department said workers at Washington state’s Hanford Nuclear Reservation detected higher radioactivity levels under tank AY-102 during a routine inspection Thursday.

Spokeswoman Lori Gamache said the department has notified Washington officials and is investigating the leak further. An engineering analysis team will conduct additional sampling and video inspection to determine the source of the contamination, she said.

“Hanford: Our Nuclear Neighbor” discussion next Wednesday at Gonzaga

Columbia Riverkeeper, Spokane Riverkeeper and Sierra Club will host an evening discussion about Our Nuclear Neighbor: Hanford, connecting its historic downstream impacts, to the Columbia River, and downwind, to Spokane. The event will take place at Gonzaga University School of Law, Barbieri Moot Court Room at 6pm on May 8th.

Historically, Hanford discharged contaminated wastewater directly into the Columbia River, giving it the distinction as the most radioactive river in the United States. But, Hanford's pollution didn't just run downstream. Hanford also released radioactive contaminants such as iodine-131 and plutonium into the air. These pollutants blew north and east, coating Spokane.

The Columbia Riverkeeper, Spokane Riverkeeper, and Sierra Club are watchdog organizations, protecting our rivers from pollution. But, Hanford, the most contaminated site in the western hemisphere, presents a unique challenge. Twenty-five years into the cleanup, some of the most difficult and dangerous cleanup projects remain.

McMorris Rodgers backed national park at Hanford

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane, on Thursday backed a proposal creating a national park at three sites central to the creation of atomic weapons, including Hanford.

The vote was bipartisan in its support and opposition. It failed 237-180. It needed supermajority support to move forward. The bill's sponsor was U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Washington.

You can read more about the proposal here.

Friday Quote: “New Light on the Old Frontier”


















At the end of Atomic Frontier Days (University of Washington Press) by John Findlay and Bruce Hevly, the authors tell us about a Gene Autry 1935 serial called The Phantom Empire. I've seen this film in its condensed version, and it's one of the most hilariously bad sci-fi movies of all time, called Radio Ranch. In short, an underground civilization called Murania attempts to prevent the singing cowboy Autry from broadcasting his weekly radio show from his ranch. What else is a secret, advanced civilization to do?

The fate of mankind hangs in the balance. But the authors see an interesting precursor to the Hanford Nuclear Reservation here. Autry, of course, represents the wild frontier, yet it's a frontier changed from the Tim Mix days. It has state-of-the-art broadcast technology. The secret underground civilization is even more advanced, and its scientists are busy inventing dangerous marvels that are dependent on radioactive materials. Like an "atom-smashing" machine that can destroy civilization itself. Atomic science was already at home on the range before it was even a reality.

All this was filmed before Hanford was conceived, or the Manhattan Project that created it was launched. But it previews a fascinating fusion between the Old West and the Atomic Age. A 1948 poster for a local Richland celebration, Atomic Frontier Days, shows the atom symbol against the glow of a giant sun above a covered wagon with the slogan, "New Light on the Old Frontier."

Occupy Portland takes on Hanford

On April 15th, Occupy Portland plans to set up near the Hanford Nuclear Facility. Why? "This is about human responsibility in the face of an epic environmental tragedy which has occurred and which will only get worse without us taking a stand," says the group. "Because we must speak out against the failure and corruption of this clean-up as it stands today."  

A rally will be held at John Dam Plaza in Richland between noon and 5 pm. Richland. Not too far from where many of the workers involved in the Hanford clean-up call home.  

According to Occupy Portland, the goals for the events are:

 *To Create External Oversight for the Clean-up

*To push the Hanford clean-up effort up the list of priorities of the government and people of the United States
*To increase funding, while also increasing transparency and efficiency of the Hanford clean-up
*To call for measures to protect against profiteering and conflicts of interest
*To unite the people of all communities effected by the Hanford situation includingthe Native communities, Hanford employees, downwindersand residents of the Tri-Cities area in order to call for and to findsolutions to the problems caused by Hanford's past, ensuring thehealth and dignity of future generations.

Particles and Half-Lives: Artists on Hanford

Green Acre Radio has an exciting feature on a new exhibit called "Particles and Half-Lives." It looks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation through the eyes of artists and poets inspired by the site. They shed a new and interesting light on the place that created the bomb dropped on Nagasaki and is now the most contaminated place in the Western Hemisphere. Listen HERE.

Tribes balk at plan for hunters to cull elk at Hanford Reach monument

HUNTING — The Fish and Wildlife Service may allow hunting on Hanford Reach National Monument land near Rattlesnake Mountain to cull a herd of elk damaging nearby wheat fields.

Over several years, managers hope to reduce the heard of about 700 elk to about 350.

But area Indian tribes are balking at the proposal, as reported by Northwest Public Radio.

See the agency's draft plan. Deadline to comment is Dec. 30.

The Tri-City Herald reports the Fish and Wildlife Service is accepting public comment this month on the proposed elk hunt that would take place next fall.

The hunt would be limited to 10 hunters a day and would be managed by the state Fish and Wildlife Department and the Yakama Nation.

The Energy Department opposed an elk hunt in 2005 but is not opposing the current proposal because cleanup work has been completed in the area.

Bull elk takes heat at Hanford

BIG GAME — We don't think of elk as being creatures game for hot weather, but the elk enjoying the sanctuary of the near-desert conditions on the Handford Nuclear Reservation are doing just fine, thank you.

Erika Holmes, who works at the Hanford Site, snapped this photo of a bull and his harem last week. 
The bull had at least 23 cows in his harem in sight of salmon anglers fishing the Hanford Reach of the Columbia, she said.

Plans progressing for Hanford history museum

RICHLAND, Wash. — Plans are moving forward for construction of a $41 million museum at Richland that would tell the history of the Hanford nuclear reservation in World War II and the Cold War.

The Corps of Engineers has approved the environmental review and a sublease for the site of the Hanford Reach Interpretive Center at Richland.

The Tri-City Herald reports proponents still need to raise about $15 million for the museum. It also would feature information about the area’s Ice Age floods.

Two important new Hanford books

Here are two new books about a crucial and controversial issue in our region:

  •  “Atomic Frontier Days: Hanford and the American West” (University of Washington Press, $24.95), by John M. Findlay and Bruce Hevly. The authors tell the complex and fascinating story of Hanford’s atomic legacy. It was a vast area of sagebrush which was converted overnight during World War II to a super-secret federal bomb-building facility. Our region is still dealing with many Hanford-related issues today – environmental, political and socialOne reviewer has already called it “a must-read for anyone interested and concerned about this nation’s nuclear legacy.” Both authors are history professors at the University of Washington. Findlay specializes in the Northwest and the American West, and Hevly specializes in the history of science and technology. They “offer perspective on today’s controversies,” according to the publisher. It was just released this month and you can find it at local bookstores, online or here. .
  • “Made in Hanford: The Bomb That Changed the World” (Washington State University Press, $22.95) by Hill Williams. Williams, a former science writer for the Seattle Times, is particularly well-suited to this subject. His father was editor of the Pasco Herald during World War II – and one of the few people in on part of the secret. Williams went on to write about Hanford and other nuclear issues for the Seattle Times. He also had access to the personal diaries of one of Hanford’s key figures. The book combines his personal story with detailed scientific and historic research. You should be able to find it at local bookstores and online or at wsupress.wsu.edu.

Cancer Claims Lake City Downwinder

Shannon Rhodes’ losing battle to prove that Hanford radiation emissions caused her spreading thyroid cancer spanned two trials and ended in federal court six years ago. Now, her life has ended as well – cut short by complications from metastasized thyroid cancer. Rhodes, a Coeur d’Alene artist and writer, died May 15 at her winter home in Green Valley, Ariz. She was 69. … Rhodes was born in Spokane in 1941 and grew up near Colfax, where she lived on a farm. She was exposed to radioactive iodine-131 emissions from Hanford in the final years of World War II and the early years of the Cold War, according to a claim filed against the private contractors who ran Hanford for the governmentKaren Dorn Steele, SR senior correspondent. More here.

Question: Do you personally know any downwinders affected by Hanford radiation emissions?

Radioactive levels are ten times the lethal limit at Hanford

Workers cleaning up the nation’s most contaminated nuclear site discovered an area of soil so radioactive it exceeds lethal limits says the U.S. Department of Energy.

(Outside a laboratory, a toy wagon is used to carry radioactive material at the Hanford Atomic Energy plant in 1955. Photo by Nat Farbman, from the amazing LIFE/Google archive.)

From the Spokesman: “This is extremely high radiation. Nothing else compares in the river corridor,” said Mark French, Department of Energy project director for environmental cleanup in the river corridor, the 75 square miles of Hanford along the Columbia River.

Fed audit says millions wasted to avoid sending Hanford nuke jobs to Idaho

An inspector general’s audit says the U.S. Department of Energy wasted $25 million because it didn’t ship certain radioactive wastes from Hanford, Wash. to Idaho for processing, in part because Hanford workers protested that the move would shift jobs to Idaho; Tri-City Herald reporter Annette Cary reports that the Idaho National Laboratory has equipment to compact the waste that Hanford lacked./Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise

Fed audit says millions wasted to avoid sending Hanford, Wash. jobs to Idaho

An inspector general’s audit says the U.S. Department of Energy is spending an extra $25 million because it didn’t ship certain radioactive wastes from Hanford to Idaho for processing, in part because Hanford workers protested that the move would shift jobs to Idaho; click below to read the full story from reporter Annette Cary of the Tri-City Herald.

Another Green Monday

On Sunday some 50,000 smiling people crossed the finish line of the 34th annual Lilac Bloomsday Run. Around the same time on Sunday, some 70 miles east on Interstate 90, the names of 91 dead miners were read aloud during a memorial anniversary of the 1972 Sunshine Mine disaster. Further east, in West Virginia, 25 families are still coming to terms with a coal mining disaster that rocked their lives a few short weeks ago. To the south, an entire watershed region is effected by one of the worst oil in the history of the United States. And bringing it back closer to home, a community along the Columbia River deals with the daily realization that they’re living in a toxic place without a view of a light at the end of the tunnel.

We have death trap coal mines, oil slick oceans and toxic communities and not a chance in hell that it’s going to get any better without a serious paradigm shift. We love ourselves some cheap energy and as a nation haven’t developed the necessary foresight to see that this cheap fix is costing us in the long run. That and we’re handcuffed to an economic system that relies on our inability to make the tough decisions and sacrifices and stuck with politicians who are co-opted by the dirty money that comes at the cost of lost lives and damaged ecosystems.

In the coming weeks you’re going to hear everyone and their mother say this phrase, “we need to curb our addiction to cheap energy and start investing in renewables.” Well, DUH. But those same people are the same people that don’t have the spine to do anything beyond say what sounds good. Those are the people that rally against the likes of Walget-Meyer yet find themselves with a hodgepodge shopping list of toothpaste, picture frames and apple juice and default to what’s easy and cheap - big box store solution.

We can hope and speak all we want but the bottom line is the only ears worth fighting for are those of people who are and have been the last to get it. And that’s why this fight we’re in is so hard. As Paul Haeder said best in his most recent column in the Inlander, “The media, politicians and business community are the last to really understand.”

After the jump are some stories you might have missed last week.

Public hearing in Spokane about Hanford’s use as a radioactive waste dump

Spokane Hearing: Hanford as a National Radioactive Waste The United States Department of Energy would like to use Hanford as a national radioactive waste dump meaning THOUSANDS of truckloads of radioactive waste will roll through Spokane en route to the Hanford Nuclear waste side near the Tri-Cities. 

Tomorrow you can learn more about this and tell the USDOE why this is a bad idea.

There is a public hearing planned for Tuesday, February 23 from 7:00 - 10:00 p.m. at the Red Lion Hotel at the Park.  Come join your neighbors and testify that this idea would be extremely detrimental to public health and the health of the environment for thousands of years.  There will be a pre-meeting workshop on site at 6 p.m. where you can get more information to help craft an opposition to this plan.  The workshop and organizing efforts for participation is hosted by Heart of America Northwest - a  regional non-profit public interest organization that has spent over twenty years fighting for the timely clean-up of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. 

The hearing in Spokane tomororw is the sixth of eight hearings being held around the region on USDOE’s plans and “Tank Closure and Waste Management Environmental Impact Statement.” Gerry Pollet, Executive Director of Heart of America Northwest commented to us over the weekend that, “the bottom line is that this is the public’s opportunity to comment on USDOE’s plans to:

* use Hanford as a national radioactive waste dump, which includes over 17,000 truckloads of radioactive waste - many of which would come through Spokane;

* NOT cleanup the million gallons of High-Level Nuclear Waste which has leaked from “Single Shell” Tanks at Hanford.  The contamination is spreading more rapidly towards the Columbia River than USDOE claimed was possible just a few years ago.

* NOT fully empty the leaky High-Level Nuclear Waste tanks.

Gerry Pollet has been working for the cleanup of Hanford since writing and leading the 1986 Referendum to stop the use of Hanford as the nation’s first High-Level Nuclear Waste repository. “We stopped that scheme - which led to the selection of Yucca Mt., Nevada, “said Pollet.  “Now, Yucca Mt has been dropped because its selection was never based on science. , Sadly, the levels of contamiantion flowing into the Columbia River already are likely far more than any levels that would happen from Yucca Mt.. It is going to take a serious outcry in our State to stop USDOE’s plans and to get Governor Gregoire to use our State’s authority to bar more waste from being dumped at Hanford.”

The rest of our email correspondence with Gerry Pollet can be found after the jump.

Hanford workers with cancer may get compensated?

In case you missed this story, it appeared as a blip on the wire. From the AP:

More former workers at the Hanford nuclear reservation may be eligible for compensation for developing cancer due to radiation exposure.

Federal Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has agreed to expand automatic compensation of $150,000 and medical coverage to any Hanford worker who developed a qualifying cancer and who worked for at least 250 days from Oct. 1, 1943, through June 30, 1972.


Tuesday Video I

The story of the $27 billion lawsuit against the Chevron Corporation is now featured in a documentary titled “Crude.”

(Film still from “Crude.”)

Dubbed the “Amazon Chernobyl,” plaintiffs of the lawsuit are 30,000 Ecuadorians living in the Amazonian rainforest, who claim their lives irrevocably changed from the oil industry. It’s an intense story about much more though: Global politics, an intricate legal battle, and an indigenous culture that has almost vanished. Watch the trailer HERE.

Closer to home, check the similar legal cases of environmental catastrophes like Libby and Hanford, both the subject of low-budget and well-made documentaries—- similar because the defendants denied any wrongdoing and stopped at nothing to make sure they never saw a courtroom while the toxicity caused cancer.


Hanford poop - yes, it’s come to this

The story of cleanup efforts at Hanford hit the national radar last week as Rachel Maddow did a story about radioactive waste removal and stimulus spending and radioactive rabbit poop.  Yes that’s right, radioactive rabbit poop.  At an area that is the center of the largest environmental cleanup operation in the country, rabbit poop is suddenly the face of a cause. According to the Seattle P-I, jackrabbits who have taken a liking to the nuclear sludge, which contains a radioactive salt that they can’t get enough of, routinely burrow into the sites, lick the salt, and poop it out, leaving slightly radioactive scat all over the ground.  

KYRS: The Karen Dorn Steele interview

Today at 1pm, tune into KYRS Thin Air Community Radio (FM 92.3 & 89.9) to hear Tim Connor’s interview with award-winning investigative reporter Karen Dorn Steele. Both are brilliant journalists, and Steele will discuss the challenges of covering Hanford and, inexorably, sensitive topics like her departure from the Spokesman-Review.

(Steele at the S-R in a 1989 photo. Image courtesy of Center For Justice.)



It’s not actually a live broadcast. The broadcast will come from the digital recording Connor, CFJ’s Communications Director, made of his June 17th interview for a popular feature that appeared online July 4th, titled “Outside Looking Back.”  (DTE note: Required reading.)

“It was great to see how much feedback we got from all over the country on the published interview with Karen that we ran last month,” Connor said in an email to CFJ subscribers.  ”KYRS was immediately interested in the remarkable content of the interview and, as it turned out, the audio from the stereo digital recorder I used for my notes is broadcast caliber. So, we lucked out and it’s terrific to be able to share this with Spokane radio listeners. Karen Dorn Steele is one of my heroes and, to her credit, she answered all my questions—-even the hard ones—-without flinching a bit.”

Another Green Monday

Yesterday marked the 64th anniversary of the atomic bomb attack on Nagasaki and our thoughts turned to Hanford. Six miles from the Columbia River, Hanford’s B Reactor was an integral part of the Manhattan Project, producing plutonium for the “Fat Man” bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki. In 1943, more than 1,500 residents of two desert towns — Hanford and White Bluffs — were ordered to leave with no explanation. Tribes who knew the land for generations no longer had access. Almost immediately, more than 50,000 workers converged upon Hanford, carrying out their war effort with no knowledge of their top-secret mission, under a tense deadline. The atomic age was born, wrapped in paradox. Now tours are offered from the Department of Energy and it’s designated a National Historic Landmark but there’s not an honest account of its own human costs and environmental impact. This is an insult. From 1944 to 1951, the government estimated mass amounts of radioactive Iodine-131 (read: “downwinders”) went up reactor smokestacks and dispersed. Since 1990, 2,300 people have sued the federal government, experiencing common symptoms of thyroid cancer. It’s the nation’s largest environmental cleanup. Museum supporters envisioned the site as a way to promote the nuclear industry, an injustice to the moral questions of B reactor. An old S-R editorial offered a respectable solution: “For that, travelers might consider flying to Nagasaki. In the city where the clocks stopped, a museum devotes itself not to the wonders of nuclear age technology, but to the deep and universal human desire for world peace.”

Another Green Tuesday

For DTE it was another wonderful weekend on the road - enjoying the West.  Half of us experienced Bellingham, while the other half the Gorge.  Being out in new places, or just being out of Spokane, it’s always interesting to hear what people have to say about this place.  It usually has something to do with something they’ve seen on the news recently that talked about Spokane.  This weekend was no different with a lot of folks talking about the Spokane duck story.  But then there was this gem which caught us by surprise, “wow, being an environmentalist and an activist, you must be stoked about that kid from Spokane who’s making his own bottled water to promote peace.“  Stoked?  While we’re all for civic pride (and peace), the thought of bottled water…, ugh.  It would just be nice to sometime hear someone say, “how bout that sustainability progress being made in Spokane.”  Here are some stories you might have missed last week.

Score one for the Earth.  Last Tuesday we were a bit critical of the Obama administrations announced plans to toughen the standards for carbon emissions from new vehicles - saying how we were fed up with the phrase “every little bit helps”.  But we did acknowledge the fact that it was a landmark decision in that it marked the first ever nationwide regulation for greenhouse gases.  And now the results are in - it was a homerun decision the pundits say.  While we’re still holding strong that tougher times call for tougher regulations, we’re hip to this whole change vibe going on in DC.  The New York Times had a wonderful editorial in print last week addressing this issue, “The nationwide automobile mileage and emissions standards announced by President Obama on Tuesday represent a huge step forward in the effort to limit greenhouse gases and reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil. They also represent a departure from the Bush administration’s indifference on these issues and an important down payment on Mr. Obama’s pledge to fashion an aggressive and imaginative energy policy.”  Read more HERE. 

Friday Quote

“When I talk to other environmental activists who’ve been in fights like this, they often tell me they never know when to celebrate their victories, because victories are reversible, and you don’t want to get complacent. I don’t even remember what I did in 1988 when I heard about Under Secretary of Energy Joseph Salgado’s decision to keep the reactor closed permanently. I probably lifted a pint of Hales Ale at the Onion but, if so, I’m sure I did it warily.

When we arrived at N Reactor last Thursday morning, the power plant that used to generate 860 megawatts of electricity from the reactor’s waste heat was already gone. I asked the guide what happened to the turbine that was inside. It was right there, he said, pointing to a vast rubble field behind what was left of the reactor building. The reactor building itself was in the last stages of being eaten by backhoes and cranes, carefully eaten I should add, because the closer the demolition got to the guts of the unplugged reactor, the more intense the residual radiation field is.

It seemed that all that was missing was a large vulture to pick at the carcass of the thing. And then it dawned on me, that it really is over. Except, of course, for the cleanup.”

–Tim Connor

Journalist extraordinaire Connor, who now is the Communications Director for Center For Justice, took a tour of Hanford last week with a council for finding alternative dispute resolutions between workers and cleanup contractors at the site. In a post HERE, he recalls the nuclear weapons versus nuclear safety debate twenty years ago of which Hanford’s largest plutonium reactor was a focal point.

(Note on the photo: Taken outside a laboratory, a toy wagon is used to carry radioactive material at Hanford in 1955. Photo by Nat Farbman, from the worthwhile LIFE/Google archive. Check it out.)

Photo of the day

More than a landmark on the skyline, the Post-Intelligencer globe now sadly represents the uncertain future of print journalism in Seattle, and perhaps the industry at large. Still, it’s not without visual curiosity, as yesterday was the last tour of the iconic structure. We’re not sure when the final issue will appear—-some speculate tomorrow—- and an online only version has not been formally announced with inside sources banking on next week.  Who knows besides Hearst though? And they don’t talk much.

But our hearts go out to the 170 journalists losing their jobs. 

We’ll keep an eye on any site development, where we hope they could continue their tradition of excellent environmental coverage in any form. In the meantime, check out an editorial on the Hanford cleanup, which asks the state to hold “the feds to their promises and their larger moral obligations to a region that gave unselfishly to the atomic efforts judged necessary by the nation’s leadership during World War II.” Full column HERE.

Take the money and run

Get ready for a piece of stimulus pie as a preliminary analysis reported the proposed package could create or save 75,000 jobs in Washington state.

Initial details are sketchy but Sen. Patty Murray said the state would receive roughly $500 million for roads, highways and bridges, and $175 million for mass transit projects. She also believes Hanford will get about a third of the $6 billion already allocated for major environmental cleanups.

Oregon isn’t even hesitating with an announcement of green projects. Gov. Ted Kulongoski said he will seek hundreds of millions of federal stimulus dollars to rebuild the flooded community of Vernonia as an environmental utopia, build a sustainable prison and install solar panels to light freeways.

Hopefully, Gov. Chris Gregoire takes advantage of the environmental benefits, and the 75, 000 jobs can make room for a ready green work force.

Nuclear archaeology

One of DTE’s favorite columnists, Knute Berger of Crosscut, has a new essay about the discovery of historic plutonium in a safe at Hanford. He writes “’Nuclear archaeology’” itself is an interesting term because for the most part, nuclear waste is something you don’t want to dig up, and few would find it to be of historical interest, but the history of the Atomic Age is coming into its own, so it makes sense that all nuclear waste is not equal: the earliest example of man-made plutonium is held by the Smithsonian.” More.

For the record, we’ve editorialized against Hanford’s B Reactor, a Manhattan Project site, earning National Historic Landmark designation. The moral argument is far too complex for a public tour with the Department Of Energy. Yes, it’s a technical marvel but at what cost?


Outside a laboratory, a toy wagon is used to carry radioactive material at Hanford Atomic Energy plant in 1955. Photo by Nat Farbman, from the amazing LIFE/Google archive.


Excellent Hanford editorial

In “Our View: Time to settle Hanford case, avoid costly trials,” the Spokesman-Review editorial board hits all the right notes, concluding “the legal maneuvering to avoid responsibility has gone on long enough,” in the case of the potential 2, 000 downwinders exposed to radiation from shortcuts during the Manhattan Project. However, whatever the amount that is compromised, it won’t be enough for what these residents have been through and had no control of, while the government did. More. And once again, check out Karen Dorne Steele’s recent Hanford feature.