Wednesday, December 01, 2004

In For a Penny, In For a Pound

Ever hear of the Hanford site, up in Washington? It was originally a secret site that produced plutonium for the Manhattan Project. Since then, it's grown to 562 square miles in size, and is the most heavily contaminated patch of ground in the country. Among other things, it stores 54 million gallons of radioactive waste in underground tanks, a third of which have leaked. Hanford officials say a million gallons of this material has leached into the groundwater; other people put the figure much, much higher. Either way, at least a million gallons of radioactive poison is migrating towards the nearby Columbia River. (Radwaste is the tip of the iceberg at Hanford, by the way; virtually every toxic compound you can name occurs there at staggering levels.)

The DOE says clean-up will cost $40 billion (of taxpayer money, natch) and take decades. There's some question, though, as to whether their plan is sound, and whether they're fit to implement it.

Accordingly, the public, in its wisdom, voted for a law that prevents the DOE from dumping more waste at the Hanford site during clean-up operations. BushCo, however, is guided as usual by the ineffable logic that says the best way to solve problems is to make them worse:

The federal government plans to ask a judge to overturn a voter initiative in Washington state that bars the U.S. Department of Energy from sending waste to the Hanford nuclear reservation.

This fall, Washington state voters overwhelmingly approved Initiative 297, which blocks the Energy Department from sending more waste to south-central Washington's Hanford nuclear site until all the existing waste there is cleaned up. The measure is scheduled to take effect Dec. 2.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As you say, this is an extraordinarily terrifying piece of land (and water too. . .). I have relatives living nearby, so I've been aware of Hanford and its little peculiarities for a very long time. It seems surprising to me, however, that Hanford gets so very little national attention. As I think your opening rhetorical question probably is intended to indicate, it's unlikely that more than 1 in 10 North Americans, outside of Washington State itself, and perhaps northeastern Oregon, have any awareness of it at all. And that ought not to be the case.

The Bush Administration's reaction to the outcome of the initiative is disgusting, as well as entirely in character. So cynical, so hypocritical, so immoral.

On a much more pleasant topic, however, your blog is excellent. I'm glad you've undertaken it, and I enjoy visiting.

expat in ON