hanford nuclear reservation

For decades, artifacts of life and work from the Manhattan Project and Cold War era at Hanford have been locked away. Now, these historical items are being trucked off the southeast Washington nuclear site and curated at Washington State University Tri-Cities.

U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said workers at Hanford tank farms who say radioactive waste is making them sick need to be heard.


Higher-than-normal radiation readings have been discovered in a second tank at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. Officials are investigating to see whether the tank is leaking into its outer shell.

Higher-level managers for major Hanford contractors testified in a three-day U.S. Department of Labor hearing this week. The case is over the layoff of a whistleblower at the southwest Washington nuclear site’s under-construction waste treatment plan.

Hanford construction workers and managers testified in day two of a U.S. Department of Labor hearing Wednesday in Kennewick, where a different image emerged of  the site's under-construction waste treatment plant than is usually presented to the public.

Several former Hanford construction workers testified in a U.S. Department of Labor hearing in Kennewick Tuesday, saying managers at the nuclear site played dangerous pranks that ended in workers with bloodied fingers, an injured knee, a hurt arm and glue smeared across the face. 

A federal court ordered the U.S. Department of Energy Friday to step up its solutions and timeline to clean up tank waste at Hanford in southeast Washington.

For a decade, one woman has been the top watchdog on the Hanford nuclear reservation for Washington state. Jane Hedges retires February 26.


Women have played an active role from startup to cleanup at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Southeast Washington. For the past year, Northwest Public Radio’s Anna King has been bringing you their stories. Hear from a physicist who made plutonium, from geologists who study the contaminated soil, from women who lived in the site’s shadows and became activists, and from a Native American woman who speaks for her nation.

Find all the stories below:

Federal officials are conducting an investigation after plutonium escaped off the Hanford nuclear site in Washington state. The plutonium is left over from a Cold War era factory at Hanford where plutonium was processed from a liquid into a solid form for bombs.

In 1987, late in the Cold War, in a government reading room in Richland, Washington, a historian was studying newly released documents about the Hanford nuclear reservation. Then, a strange man approached her.

Cleaning up the central part of the Hanford nuclear reservation will take even longer. That’s the bottom line of a series of regional public comment meetings kicking off Wednesday in Richland, Washington.

For the fifth time in 15 years, the state of Washington is fighting the federal government in court over Hanford cleanup. The state’s top cleanup watchdog in Richland -- who grew up just downstream from the nuclear site -- plays a major role in that case

In southeast Washington state, a group of farms has been frozen in time. It’s at Hanford, the area the federal government took over to make plutonium during World War II.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

For decades Patty Murray’s image has been the working mom of the U.S. Senate. Agree with it or not, she’s brought home the bacon: Murray’s funneled billions of federal dollars into Washington and especially to the Hanford nuclear site.

Two branches of the federal government struck a deal Tuesday on when to clean up radioactive sludge near the Columbia River.

Tobin Fricke / Wikimedia Commons


Federal courts may force the U.S. Department of Energy to adhere to new timelines to clean up the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington state.

Kai-Huei Yau

In World War Two, the Hanford Nuclear Reservation was brand new. Sue Olson was there as a young secretary. She took shorthand, pumped out calculations and locked up top-secret papers. She's become known as one of the "Daughters of Hanford."

AP Images

President Barack Obama’s budget would spend $2.3 billion on cleanup at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in 2016. But it shifts the focus of cleanup. The proposed budget would spend more on cleanup of the tank waste and a massive plant meant to treat that sludge. The President’s proposed budget would cut about $100 million from the Department of Energy’s Richland Operations office.

When the federal government decided to make plutonium in southeast Washington, early farmers and whole villages of Native Americans were kicked out. Now, a new collection of oral histories tells some of these stories of the Hanford site.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

There’s got to be a better plan for leaking tanks of waste at Washington State’s Hanford Nuclear Reservation. That’s according to a new report by the federal Government Accountability Office.

Tobin Fricke / Wikimedia Commons

For the third time this week there are calls to protect workers from hazardous vapors at Hanford. This time from Washington’s congressional delegation.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

Thursday three groups with ties to the Hanford Nuclear Reservation announced they intend to sue the U.S. Department of Energy and its contractor.

Seattle-based watchdog group Hanford Challenge, a Richland workers’ union, and the Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility are piling on. They said there’s been a lack of action at the Hanford site to correct worker exposures to harmful tank vapors.

The groups notified Energy and Hanford contractor Washington River Protection Solutions about the intent to sue in 90 days.

U.S. Department of Energy

Removing and disposing of contaminated soil is one of the biggest jobs at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

So when government officials announced this week they want to look into digging a bit shallower at the southeast Washington site, a lot of people took notice.