Earlier this week, we heard alarming reports of a “significant” nuclear waste leak at Hanford, the largest radioactive waste dumpsite in the country. Should we be worried? Absolutely. But mainly because this is a symptom of a much bigger problem that’s been festering for decades.
The physicists who invented the nuclear bomb worked out of Los Alamos in California, but the people who did the dirty work of making the bombs were in Hanford, Washington. Throughout the Cold War, Hanford churned out plutonium for our nuclear arsenal. It was also, conveniently, a place to experiment with radiation.