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Hanford Challenge keeps people informed

Tom Carpenter, director of Hanford Challenge, said when Hanford was started in World War II to build the first atomic weapon, it needed uranium mines, such as the Midnite Mine.   Uranium was irradiated in nuclear reactors to separate plutonium, leaving massive amounts of waste. 

“Each gram of plutonium left a ton of solid and liquid waste, some of which was dumped into giant underground tanks, and often directly onto the soil at Hanford, and it has seeped into the Columbia River,” he said.  “A third of the tanks have leaked an estimated one million gallons of radioactive waste into the soil, which is contaminating the groundwater.”

Plutonium production ended in 1989 after 70 metric tons of plutonium and 65,000 nuclear weapons had been made, he said.

“Now we wonder what to do with the weapons,” said Tom.  “Hanford Challenge seeks to remediate the largest toxic mess in the U.S. and maybe in the world.  We’re a small, but influential organization—advocating, litigating and trying to influence outcomes.  We approach it as the disaster it is, seeking new technologies and new strategies to clean up the waste at Hanford and the Midnite Mine.”

Tom said it’s not acceptable to accept the toxins just because “we are all going to die sometime of something.” 

For information, call 206-292-2850 x 22 or visit