Hanford Nuclear Reservation

RICHLAND, Wash. — Sunday is the National Day of Remembrance honoring Cold War nuclear workers. In the Tri-Cities, Washington, dozens of the people who worked at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation to help make plutonium for bombs gathered Friday. Correspondent Anna King met James Bresina , and she has this audio postcard about his time on the nuclear site.

When I started out there I was what they call a 'youth opportunity trainee.' I made $1.25 and hour for my wages.

My name is James Bresina, and I worked at Hanford from 1966 to 1995. It was very secretive. Very tense.

RICHLAND, Wash. — A Hanford worker was taken for a ride in a portable toilet when it was picked up by a fork lift driver who didn't realize it was occupied.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Workers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation are trying to flush and clean contaminated groundwater that runs deep under southeast Washington.

The massive plumes of radioactive and toxic chemicals are leftovers from plutonium production during World War II and the Cold War. Decontaminating all that groundwater is a monumental task. And as correspondent Anna King found out, it will only get harder over time.

Some of the groundwater pumped up from Hanford near the Columbia River is so contaminated it looks like flat Mountain Dew.

More than 1,000 workers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation are getting layoff notices. This latest round of downsizing started this week due to reduced federal funding in 2012.

RICHLAND, Wash. – The Waste Treatment Plant at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation is getting more scrutiny after complaints over its safety culture. The U.S. Government Accountability Office – the investigative arm of Congress – is launching a review.

Representatives Henry Waxman of California and Diana DeGett of Colorado asked for the study. Both are members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Anna King / KPLU

RICHLAND, Wash. – U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says turning a historic piece of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation into a National Park would be good for the Northwest economy. He made the comment during a tour of Eastern Washington this weekend.

RICHLAND, Wash. (AP) — Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says the historic B Reactor at the Hanford nuclear reservation should be part of a national park to tell how the nuclear era was born out of World War II.

Salazar visited the reactor Sunday with Sen. Maria Cantwell, Rep. Doc Hastings and Gov. Chris Gregoire.

The Tri-City Herald reports the B Reactor would be a key attraction in the Manhattan Project National Historical Park along with properties at Los Alamos, N.M., and Oak Ridge. Tenn.

Courtesy of contractor Bechtel

RICHLAND, Wash. – The Department of Energy says this fall they'll start large-scale testing on how to treat 56 million gallons of radioactive sludge at the currently under-construction Hanford's waste treatment plant.

RICHLAND, Wash. – A new Department of Energy document leaked to the press reveals that Hanford's massive waste treatment plant might be over budget. A project review committee says the plant is in jeopardy of opening on time.

The waste plant meant to treat 56 million gallons of radioactive waste is at risk, the report says. That toxic sludge is now sitting in aging underground tanks in southeast Washington not far from the Columbia River.

Courtesy of the Department of Energy.

RICHLAND, Wash. — U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings says he is pursuing legislation to recognize the world's first full-scale nuclear reactor as a national historic park.

RICHLAND, Wash. — Six workers at a Hanford radioactive waste disposal site decided to quit rather than submit to drug testing after a baggie of marijuana was found in building at the landfill called the Environmental Restoration Disposal Facility.

RICHLAND, Wash. – A key contractor at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation said Monday it will have nuclear experts review its safety culture. Bechtel has been under fire at the southeast Washington nuclear site since a high-level manager was taken out of his position after raising safety concerns.

Bechtel is building a $12 billion factory to treat 56 million gallons of radioactive waste. But recently the federal Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board came to the conclusion that the project’s safety culture is "flawed."

Associated Press

RICHLAND, Wash. — Workers recently completed clean-up work on 140 acres of the Hanford nuclear reservation where liquid waste from the making of nuclear bombs was poured into trenches in the ground.

Northwest News Network

Scientists are experimenting with 1,800-year-old glass to better understand how nuclear waste storage will hold up for millennia to come.

hanfordvitplant.com

Hanford contractors are welding the lids onto massive waste mixing tanks later this week. That’s despite serious concerns being raised by engineers at the plant in southeast Washington. A labor union that represents those workers has asked for a work stoppage and filed a formal grievance.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Seniority won't be the only factor for determining layoffs at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington. Pink slips are expected in six weeks by several Hanford contractors because federal stimulus money is tapering off.

CH2MHill and Mission Support Alliance are the federal contractors planning on the 1,600 lay-offs. The companies say union employees will lose their jobs based on seniority: those with the least experience going first.

Photo courtesy Dept. of Energy

The nation needs a new agency to site a federal nuclear waste dump. That's the recommendation issued Friday by a presidential commission.

The congressionally-chartered agency would decide where to store radioactive waste that's now sitting in aging underground tanks in southeast Washington.

The Northwest could end up keeping Hanford’s nuclear waste for 100 years or more under a recommendation issued Friday by a presidential commission. President Obama appointed the Blue Ribbon Commission to look into the question of where to store the nation’s worst nuclear waste.

The new report says one option may be to store the waste at regional centers for more than 100 years while the country looks for a suitable permanent repository. That concerns Susan Leckband, who chairs a board that advises managers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

YAKIMA, Wash. — Washington state has filed another lawsuit to compel the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to resume consideration of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository.

A message from Frank Russo, WTP Project Director, and Bill Gay, WTP Deputy Project Director

Fellow WTP employees,

Over the past several weeks, there have been reports about the Department of Energy's (DOE's) Hanford Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) Project that question our project’s safety culture and resolution of technical design issues, and that suggest cost and schedule objectives are favored over technical risk and safety. Nothing could be further from the truth. 

 SAFETY

RICHLAND, Wash. – The heads of two Hanford Nuclear Reservation contractors tried to reassure workers with a memo this week. It says there is a strong safety culture on the massive waste treatment plant now under construction. The memo comes after several workers have come forward with concerns about the plant.

Northwest News Network

RICHLAND, Wash. – More Hanford workers are starting to raise safety concerns about a massive nuclear waste treatment plant under construction in southeast Washington.

A federal nuclear watchdog agency has called the safety culture at the Hanford facility “flawed.” That finding is bolstered by a string of new letters from workers who say they have firsthand knowledge of problems at the plant.

RICHLAND, Wash. — Hanford nuclear reservation cleanup contractors are beginning Thursday to notify up to 1,200 workers they will be laid off at the end of September.

Northwest News Network

RICHLAND, Wash. – Hanford Nuclear Reservation workers have retrieved a key portion of radioactive waste ahead of schedule. That announcement came from the federal government today.

Courtesy of Hanford Contractor Bechtel

RICHLAND, Wash. – A high-level Hanford whistleblower is accusing the Department of Energy of being too cozy with its contractors at the federal nuclear reservation.

Walter Tamosaitis made that accusation in a letter released Monday. (Updated with link to a copy of the letter.)

RICHLAND, Wash. – A new book explores how southeast Washington's Hanford Nuclear Reservation helped shape the Atomic Age. It's called "Made in Hanford: The bomb that changed the world."

Hill Williams says perhaps the most surprising thing he found through his research was how closely linked his life has been to the development of nuclear weapons.

RICHLAND, Wash. – A bill in the U.S. House of Representatives would breathe new life into the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada. The House will vote today on a larger spending bill that includes a budget increase for reviewing the project.

Some nuclear cleanup advocates are concerned that if Yucca Mountain doesn't open, it could mean high level waste could be permanently stored at Washington's Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

The National Park Service Wednesday gave its support to turning part of the Hanford nuclear site into a new national park.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says Hanford's historic B Reactor deserves park status in order to tell the story of the race to build the atomic bomb. 

RICHLAND, Wash. – The U.S. Department of Energy plans to launch a new investigation into safety culture at Hanford’s waste treatment plant, Deputy Secretary Dan Poneman reported to workers at the plant on Monday.

RICHLAND, Wash. – The number two manager at the U.S. Department of Energy is scheduled to speak to workers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation today. The visit comes after criticism of Hanford's safety culture by a federal nuclear safety watchdog.

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