US’s Biggest Nuclear Waste Site Remains Unsafe

by Vins
Published: Last Updated on

Hanford, Washington has a serious problem that won’t be resolved anytime soon. It is the home to America’s largest nuclear power plant, which is roughly half the size of Rhode Island and employs 11,000 workers. It was created to produce nuclear weapons during World War II and was expanded after the war, at which time around a million gallons of toxic waste leaked. As Les Neuhaus reports for WhoWhatWhy, so far the clean up has cost $40 billion and is expected take an additional $100 billion to complete.

The Hanford plant is still filled with some 1,400 dangerous chemicals that have caused many of the workers to get sick. The negative affects are not limited to plant workers. The plant contains 56 million gallons of radioactive waste that is slowly leaking into the Colombia River. Containment sites are still under construction, but even when they are complete, the area will remain radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years. The Environmental Protection Agencies’ Hanford project manager, Dennis Faulk, estimates that it will take forty more years until this mess is cleaned up, but it could easily take longer.

Source: Les Neuhaus, “After $40 Billion, America’s Biggest Nuclear Dump Is Still Leaking,”, July 14 2014,

Student Researcher: Dante Francesconi (Sonoma State University)

Faculty Evaluator: Jacquelyn Guilford (Sonoma State University)