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Hanford - Washington

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    Loading contaminated soil into a truck. A former plutonium production reactor is in the background.

Located in southeastern Washington State, Hanford is a 586-square-mile site created in 1943 as part of the Manhattan Project (America’s effort to develop the atomic bomb).

Operation of the plutonium-producing facilities continued beyond World War II through the Cold War, and a total of nine nuclear reactors were eventually constructed along the Columbia River.

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In 1989, production stopped and work shifted to cleanup of portions of the site contaminated with hazardous substances, including both radionuclides and chemical waste.

The operations at Hanford created one of the largest and most complex cleanup projects in the U.S. Weapons production resulted in more than 43 million cubic yards of radioactive waste, and over 130 million cubic yards of contaminated soil and debris. Approximately 475 billion gallons of contaminated water was discharged to the soil. Some of the contaminants have made it to groundwater under the site. Over 80 square miles of groundwater is contaminated to levels above groundwater protection standards.


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