Hanford Site

Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Energy

U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell made a visit to Richland, Washington Friday to highlight how creating a B Reactor National Historical Park would create jobs and spur tourism in southeast Washington. The B Reactor at Hanford was the world’s first full-scale plutonium production facility. Correspondent Anna King has more.

Senator Maria Cantwell believes despite its dark history, Hanford has an important lesson to share.

Department of Energy

Washington state played a key role in helping the U.S. develop nuclear weapons. The Department of Energy hails the Hanford site as an “engineering marvel.” It was the first large scale plutonium production facility in the world and was erected in a mere thirteen months. Now lawmakers want to make part of the site a national park, along with nuclear facilities in Tennessee and New Mexico.

Bechtel National, Inc.

Construction on large sections of a waste treatment plant at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation will slow down because of major new testing that’s required. That’s the announcement Tuesday from top managers at the U.S. Department of Energy.

Photo by Anna King / Northwest News Network

There is a lot written about the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in scientific journals, news articles and government reports. Now there is a book of poetry. The State of Washington’s poet laureate recently released a book of remembrances about her hometown of Richland. It’s called “Plume.” Kathleen Flenniken returned to southeast Washington for this visit with our correspondent Anna King.

We’re on the shore of the Columbia River at a Richland park. A flotilla of students, in bright kayaks, paddle against the current.

CH2MHill / Northwest News

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu fielded questions about safety at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation Friday. He assured hundreds of workers listening in a Richland park that challenges in the massive cleanup of radioactive waste are getting attention at the highest level.

Secretary Chu said he’s really serious about wanting safety at Hanford. He’s particularly focused on the site’s $12 billion waste treatment plant, now under construction. It’s meant to stabilize 56 million gallons of radioactive waste.

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu plans to visit the Hanford Nuclear Reservation next week to discuss the site’s safety culture. Chu’s fly-in comes just as the Hanford Advisory Board struggles this week to settle on its official advice on the safety culture at the southeast Washington complex. Correspondent Anna King reports.

Image via U.S. Senate / U.S. Senate

A high level whistleblower at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation is moving ahead with a lawsuit against a federal contractor. But Walt Tamosaitis would have to appeal in order to take the federal government to court. At issue is the safety culture at Hanford.

Walt Tamosaitis sued the U.S. Department of Energy and contractor URS after he was removed from his job. He claims it was retaliation for raising safety concerns about the $12 billion waste treatment plant going up in southeast Washington.

A major government contractor on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation has a new plan to improve its safety culture. Bechtel has come under sharp criticism by federal nuclear watchdogs. Correspondent Anna King has more.

Photo courtesy DNFSB video

The Hanford Nuclear Reservation’s waste treatment plant is making progress on improving its safety culture. That’s the upshot of a hearing Tuesday in Washington, D.C. before a federal nuclear watchdog agency. But not everyone familiar with the nuclear site agreed with that positive assessment.

The Department of Energy and its Hanford contractors have been under intense scrutiny after several whistleblowers and federal investigators found a “flawed” safety culture at the nuclear site. The hearing at the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board was a progress report.

Photo courtesy U.S. Dept. of Energy / Northwest News Network

A new $11 million contract moves plans ahead to clean up radioactive sludge at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. It’s in an area called the K-West Basin just 400-yards from the Columbia River.

Photo courtesy of Bechtel National, Inc.

An independent oversight team from the Department of Energy is visiting the Hanford Nuclear Reservation this week. Richland Correspondent Anna King explains why.

The agency is called the Department of Energy’s Office of Health, Safety and Security or H.S.S. It’s responsible for enforcing the Energy department’s self regulation of nuclear safety, worker health and safety and information security.

Washington state Ecology is rolling out a new draft permit for the Hanford Nuclear Reservation near Richland, Washington. The document is 16,476 pages long. Public meetings are scheduled across the Northwest including one in Seattle Tuesday night and another in Portland Wednesday. This new permit will determine how Hanford waste is treated, stored and disposed of for the next 10 years. Dieter Bohrmann is an Ecology spokesman. He says this document reflects that Hanford is unique both in its size and scope.

Dieter Bohrmann: “I think if there were any way we could have simplified it, and cut 10,000 pages out of it – yeah. You know, but even with that, it was still going to be a large document regardless.”

Photo by Anna King / Northwest News Network

A Hanford whistleblower lawsuit is underway in federal court in Yakima. A former high-level manager on a nuclear treatment project is asking for a jury trial, but the judge hearing the case said Thursday that’s unlikely. Correspondent Anna King was there.

The Department of Energy says it’s considering whether to require a Hanford contractor to pay back a $15 million bonus. A new federal report says the bonus was for mixing tanks that managers have since been unable to prove are up to nuclear standards. Correspondent Anna King reports.

When you think of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, its radioactive legacy usually comes to mind. But, as correspondent Courtney Flatt reports, there’s more to clean up than just the site’s nuclear waste.

The Department of Energy wants to cut back commuter traffic at the nation’s most contaminated nuclear site.

Nearly 10,000 workers travel to and from Hanford on a daily basis. That’s a lot of traffic, and most of those cars hold just one person.

Photo courtesy Dept. of Energy

A draft environmental plan for the Hanford Nuclear Reservation puts off a decision on how to treat a big portion of nuclear tank waste at the southeast Washington site. We’re talking about what to do with radioactive gunk called low-activity waste. The delay of that decision is nettling Washington’s Ecology department. Correspondent Anna King reports.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Occupy Portland activists took to the road this weekend. About 100 protesters showed up in sunny downtown Richland Sunday afternoon. They were there to rally against nuclear power and in favor of cleaning up the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. Correspondent Anna King was there.

On a large stage Native Americans and Occupy coordinators like Mirium German voiced their concerns.

“Hanford is an environmental tragedy waiting to happen,” German said.

Photo by Courtney Flatt / Northwest News Network

RICHLAND, Wash. -- The Hanford cleanup has been hard on the area’s ecosystem, It disturbs habitat and native vegetation that can be difficult to replant. But as correspondent Courtney Flatt reports, one local tribe is working to grow native plants at formerly contaminated areas.

Photo credit: Anna King / Northwest News Network

RICHLAND, Wash. – The Department of Energy says a Hanford contractor tried to interfere with an investigation into nuclear safety at the site. That’s according to letters from top Energy officials in an ongoing debate over the site’s safety culture. Correspondent Anna King reports.

KENNEWICK, Wash. – The massive factory being built to treat radioactive sludge at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation has serious design problems, especially with huge mixing containers meant to treat that waste. That’s according to testimony by top Department of Energy officials and federal contractors at a hearing in Kennewick Thursday night. Correspondent Anna King was there.

Photo by Anna King / Northwest News Network

KENNEWICK, Wash. – Top managers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation say they’re going to have to reexamine key components of a massive waste treatment plant under construction in southeast Washington. That’s according to testimony at a marathon hearing in Kennewick Thursday. The federal Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board was there to listen to concerns about the plant being built to treat 56 million gallons of radioactive waste. Correspondent Anna King reports.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Parts of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation’s massive waste treatment plant may have to be redesigned. That’s according to testimony Wednesday in Washington, D.C. by a top level manager for the U.S. Department of Energy.

Photo by Anna King / Northwest News Network

RICHLAND, Wash. – At the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington, the race is on to clean up radioactive sludge buried in aging underground tanks. Some of that waste has already leaked into the soil not far from the Columbia River. But attempts to use high-tech robotics to hose out waste tanks haven't gone as planned. And an important federal cleanup deadline is fast approaching. Correspondent Anna King visited one Hanford tank farm to see what’s causing the delays.

Photo credit: C-SPAN / Image courtesy of C-SPAN

PASCO, Wash. – Washington state officials are reacting negatively to the possibility that there might be a delay to the Hanford Nuclear Reservation’s massive waste treatment plant. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu raised that prospect in comments last week.

Image courtesy of C-SPAN

The Hanford Nuclear Reservation’s waste treatment plant has been scheduled to begin operations in 2019. But U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said Thursday that the southeast Washington facility might not start on time.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Hanford Nuclear Reservation managers say they have contained a few drips of radioactive condensation found near a waste container. Federal Department of Energy officials say the contamination did not get off site, and is not a danger to workers at the southeast Washington facility.

Photo courtesy of Bechtel / Northwest News Network

RICHLAND, Wash. – The main government contractor building the waste treatment plant at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, has hired a new safety culture manager. This move comes after multiple federal reports have criticized the southeast Washington project – some saying that employees feel reluctant to raise concerns with the plant. Correspondent Anna King reports.

Northwest News Network

RICHLAND, Wash. – Over the last two years we’ve brought you numerous stories about high-level whistleblowers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation's nuclear waste treatment plant. It’s one of the largest environmental cleanup projects on Earth. Now, yet another top expert there is risking his career to speak openly. He tells our correspondent Anna King the plant’s vessels and pipes -- as they’re designed now -- will leak radioactive waste within their planned lifespan.

Wikimedia user: TobinFricke / Wikimedia Commons

RICHLAND, Wash. – The Department of Energy is starting work on a plan to build a 30-mile natural gas pipeline to the Hanford Nuclear Reservation’s waste treatment plant. The announcement Monday includes few details but the pipeline would likely go under the Columbia River.

Hanford’s waste treatment plant is going to need a lot of power. After all, its purpose is to mix radioactive sludge with glass material to form molten liquid. That brew, once cooled, would form huge glass logs for long-term storage.

Hanford.gov / U.S. Department of Energy

RICHLAND, Wash. – The Hanford Nuclear Reservation’s tank farms in southeast Washington may have much more plutonium than earlier estimated. That’s according to a report by a Hanford contractor that’s just been leaked to public radio. As Anna King reports, At least one high-level Hanford official worries the findings could mean a massive waste treatment plant’s design might need to be altered.

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