The Big Issues

Hanford is big – really big.  It is a big site, at 586 square miles.  It has a big budget, at $2 billion per year.  And it has a big challenge: contain and clean up 50 years of the detritus resulting from the making of plutonium for America’s nuclear arsenal.  It has a big workforce, at about 9,500 employees and 14 different unions.  Over the next 50 to 100 years, we will be paying a big tab for cleanup – estimated at $124 billion.

Hanford is acknowledged to be the most contaminated site outside of the former Soviet Union. Hanford itself estimates that it dumped 445 billion gallons of contaminated liquids into the ground at Hanford – an amount equal to five days flow of the Columbia River.  Hanford is the dumpsite for two-thirds of the nation’s high-level nuclear waste.  More waste may be coming from offsite as well.

We must effectively face Hanford’s hazardous legacy to spare the current and future generations from an unacceptable risk of health damage, safety threats, and unusable natural resources.

Hanford Challenge focuses on 5 big issues:

1. Cleanup Progress

2. Human Health and Safety

  • What price will Hanford workers continue to pay in illness and cancer from exposures on the job?

3. Hanford’s Reach

  • How has pollution from Hanford affected the soil, groundwater, and Columbia River?
  • Learn about Hanford Challenge’s environmental sampling efforts.

4. How Hanford Works

  • Hanford Summit Project

5. International Perspective

  • What can we learn from colleagues around the world facing similar challenges?