IEEE Spectrum – A Glass Nightmare: Cleaning Up the Cold War’s Nuclear Legacy at Hanford

April 28, 2020 – It’s a place of superlatives. Reporters have called it the most polluted place in the Western Hemisphere. It’s also the location of one of the largest construction projects in the world.

At the Hanford Site in south-central Washington state, 177 giant tanks sit below the sandy soil, brimming with the radioactive remnants of 44 years of nuclear-materials production. From World War II through the Cold War, Hanford churned out plutonium for more than 60,000 nuclear weapons, including the atomic bomb that razed Nagasaki, Japan, in August 1945. The sprawling enterprise eventually contaminated the soil and groundwater and left behind 212 million liters of toxic waste—enough to fill 85 Olympic-size swimming pools. Decades after the site stopped producing plutonium, the U.S. government is still grappling with how to clean it all up. Link to article

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