In 1943, the federal government chose Hanford, in Washington state, to make plutonium for the Manhattan Project, a secret wartime effort to build an atomic bomb. That military mission ended in 1988, launching a cleanup effort that continues to this day. In 1994, S-R reporters Karen Dorn Steele and Jim Lynch wrote a five-day series called Wasteland detailing the money spent on Hanford’s cleanup.
In an agreement reached in the early days of the Manhattan Project, the U.S. government agreed to indemnify the nuclear contractors making plutonium at Hanford, including corporate giants General Electric and E.I. DuPont de Nemours.
That means U.S. taxpayers have also been paying the legal bills for the Hanford contractors’ defense in lawsuits by “downwinders” who say they were sickened by pollution from the facility – over $60 million so far – as well as any settlements to individual plaintiffs and favorable verdicts in the Hanford case.
The B Reactor was the world’s first full-scale nuclear reactor and produced the plutonium used in the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki in 1945. This World War II-era file photograph taken by the federal government shows the B reactor during its early plutonium production days. It was shut down in 1968 and in 2008 it was designated a National Historic Landmark.
Latest updates in this topic
“Her Royal Highness Queen Kathie” was tough, mean and loved by many
Longtime “Queen of the Bitches” Kathie Bross has passed away, her purple tiara passing to a successor.
Stack demolished at Hanford’s Plutonium Finishing Plant
A landmark on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation is gone, after the big ventilation stack at the Plutonium Finishing Plant was demolished.
Cantwell says Hanford Reach no longer under federal review
Sen. Maria Cantwell says the Hanford Reach National Monument in eastern Washington is no longer under review for possible changes to the protections created for the natural landmark.
Richland nuclear plant cited for safety violation over waste shipment
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued a “white” violation finding against the nuclear power plant near Richland related to a November radioactive waste shipping incident.
Aircraft fighting 20,000-acre wildfire near Hanford grounded after drone spotted
An aerial drone hampered efforts on Tuesday to extinguish a fire that recently crossed into the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Central Washington. The air tactical group noticed the drone hovering …
Senator questions Hanford plant subcontracting change
A U.S. senator is questioning the new subcontracting arrangement at the Hanford nuclear reservation’s vitrification plant. Bechtel National announced in January that it and its primary subcontractor were forming a …
Wildfire burning near Hanford site
A wildfire burning in Benton County, Washington, shut down roads and forced the evacuation of some workers at the Hanford nuclear site.
Second waste storage tunnel at Hanford is at risk of cave-in, regulators say
A second tunnel containing radioactive waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation is “structurally deficient by almost every measure” and at risk of caving in, state regulators said Friday.
DOE names new acting head of Hanford, other nuclear cleanup projects
An acting leader for the Department of Energy’s nationwide nuclear environmental cleanup program, including the Hanford nuclear reservation, was named on Tuesday.
More Hanford nuclear mishaps likely, official says
Future accidental radiation releases at the largest U.S. site of waste from nuclear weapons production are likely following back-to-back emergency evacuations of workers in May and June because aging infrastructure …
Hanford workers report possible chemical vapor exposure
Five Hanford workers received medical evaluations as a precaution after they and other workers reported suspicious odors that could indicate the presence of chemical vapors Tuesday morning at the nuclear …
Hanford workers report possible vapor exposure
Five Hanford workers received medical evaluations as a precaution after they and additional workers reported suspicious odors that could indicate the presence of chemical vapors at the nuclear reservation Tuesday …
State’s largest solar project to be built near Richland
The state’s largest solar power project will be built on former Hanford Nuclear Reservation land near Richland.
Radiation alarm prompts order for workers to seek cover
Radiation warning alarms sounded Thursday at a former plutonium production plant in Washington state, prompting a take-cover order that sent about 350 workers seeking cover indoors during the demolition of …
Partially collapsed Hanford tunnel to be filled with grout
A partially collapsed Hanford waste storage tunnel will be filled with grout to further stabilize it, the Department of Energy said Wednesday.
Bechtel earns $7.2 million in incentive pay for managing Hanford vit plant
The Department of Energy’s assessment of Bechtel National at Hanford continues to inch upward.
Contamination at Hanford tank did not come from leak
Radioactive contamination found on a piece of equipment on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation was not the result of a leak in an underground nuclear waste storage tank.
Washington state lawmakers want review of Hanford cleanup
Lawmakers ask Government Accountability Office to review Hanford cleanup after tunnel collapse.
Department of Energy ends plans for test to dispose of Hanford waste capsules
The Department of Energy is dropping plans for a test meant to see if some Hanford nuclear waste could be disposed of in a deep borehole.
Trump proposes $120 million budget cut at Hanford despite trouble
President Donald Trump’s proposed budget includes a cut of about $120 million for the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, despite two recent incidents that raised concern about worker safety at the former …
Washington Congress members worry Trump budget would cut Hanford cleanup
Last Friday, Washington members of Congress warned about cuts to the Hanford cleanup efforts. Now they’re bracing for proposed cuts when President Donald Trump’s budget is released Tuesday.
Crews cover partially-collapsed tunnel at nuclear site
Workers this weekend finished installing a protective cover over a partially-collapsed tunnel that contained radioactive waste on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, the U.S. Department of Energy said Monday.
Radioactive contamination found on clothes of Hanford worker
A worker at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state got radioactive contamination on his clothing this week during an incident at an underground waste storage tank that indicated a …
Governors of Oregon, Washington seek more Hanford funding
The governors of Washington and Oregon are asking President Donald Trump to increase the funding for Hanford Nuclear Reservation cleanup efforts.
Cleanup at Idaho nuclear landfill on hold after pit collapse
BOISE, Idaho – Some cleanup efforts at a nuclear waste landfill in eastern Idaho are on hold while workers try to figure out what caused a collapse in a dig …
Waiting on the weather to cover Hanford waste tunnel
About 150 concrete ecology blocks were hauled by flatbed trucks to central Hanford over the weekend for the next step in stabilizing a partially collapsed tunnel holding radioactively contaminated waste.
Depression in Hanford tunnel discovered by radiation workers
Workers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation who questioned some unusual radiation readings are being credited with discovering the partial collapse of a waste storage tunnel last week.
Welcome to Nuketown USA: A look at the company town of the Hanford site
While a tunnel collapse over nuclear material at Hanford Nuclear Reservation made international news, it did little to shake a town full of residents who played a part in the …
Hanford continues to have truckload of woes
The beleaguered Hanford cleanup is a national embarrassment, with serious consequences for this region.
Hanford tunnel collapse prompts some to ask: What’s the long-term solution for nuclear waste?
Tuesday’s collapse of an earthen tunnel at Hanford highlights long-standing concerns about the ways in which nuclear waste is stored.
Hanford Nuclear Reservation’s collapsed tunnel may have gone unnoticed
A hole that was discovered this week on top of a nuclear waste storage tunnel has been plugged with dirt, ending an emergency situation at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, U.S. …
As workers fill collapsed tunnel at Hanford site, Inslee launches action against federal government
Workers have begun filling a caved in tunnel near the PUREX plant in the 200 East Area of the Hanford Site. About 50 truckloads of soil will be used to …