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Latest Hanford alert is another reminder of nuclear industry’s many challenges via The Seattle Times

Nuclear energy seems custom-made as a solution for providing electricity without adding to climate change. But its downsides are big, and they are not only Americans’ fear of meltdowns and mushroom clouds.

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But that happened this past week when a tunnel containing radioactive waste collapsed, prompting the sheltering and evacuation of 4,800 workers. No radiation appears to have been released, but the U.S. Department of Energy opened an emergency-operations center to monitor the risk as workers began reburying the waste.

 

For our state’s many newcomers: Hanford was part of the massive constellation of sites established across the country by the Manhattan Project to build an atomic bomb during World War II. Only the United States had the scientific talent, industrial might — and the abundant space — to create nuclear weapons so quickly.

Hanford, a 580-square-mile reservation in South Central Washington, extracted plutonium for bombs and warheads, lasting through most of the Cold War. At one time, the site had nine nuclear reactors.

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