- Hanford Nuclear Reservation is the most polluted area in the United States. Buried beneath the complex is 56 million gallons of radioactive waste that need to be dealt with.
The reservation produced the plutonium for Fat Man, the atomic bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki in Japan, as well as for the United States’ atomic weapon stockpile during the Cold War.
In June 2019, President Trump’s administration announced it would downgrade the threat levels of some radioactive waste to save the government $40 billion on cleanup.
The announcement has been criticized as a way to make cleaning up nuclear waste easier, without actually doing the clean-up part.
Trump’s administration also wants to cut Hanford’s funding by $416 million. But the cleanup needs more funding, not less.
Sitting on 586 square miles of desert in Washington, the Hanford Nuclear Reservation is the most toxic place in America.
Buried beneath the ground, in storage tanks, are 56 million gallons of radioactive waste. Many of them are leaking into the ground.
According to NBC, some nuclear experts have said Hanford is “an underground Chernobyl waiting to happen.”
Hanford played a vital part in the top-secret Manhattan Project, which was the government’s research and development program for nuclear weapons.
The government purchased the land in 1943, and gave about 1,500 people 30 days to leave.
Instead of the land being developed by farmers and ranchers, it’s been left untouched for 75 years, and wildlife has boomed. In 2000, former President Bill Clinton made the 195,000 acre area a National Monument.
In the area, there are herds of elk, Chinook salmon breed in stretches of the river in Autumn, and there is also an abundance of birds, including burrowing owls, Swainson hawks, and sagebrush sparrows.