Plutonium Production at Hanford near Native American Reservations, USA

<div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Description</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld"></td><td class="columns"><div class="less">In response to security uncertainties and to increase the defense capabilities of the United States, the U.S government chose Hanford, Washington as the home to the first full scale plutonium production facility as part of the Manhattan Project. Due to the size of the facility more than 1,500 people were told to evacuate their homes and infrastructure including 554 new buildings replaced them. The production of plutonium and eventual modification in to a waste storage facility continued until the late 1980s. In 1988 the facility was put on the National Priorities List for the Superfund Clean Up. What was most concerning was the proximity of the contamination to the Colorado River that is the water source for millions of people. Clean-up continues even today with the threat of ground water contamination still looming. Another aspect of this EJ conflict, is that there were a number of Native American tribes living on this land and had rights granted through treaties to use the resources in this area that are now terribly polluted. Their natural rights were removed and took away part of their abilities to follow traditional ways of living. </div><a class="seemore" href="#">See more...</a><div class="more" style="display:none">The intensity of the mobilization increased in the late 1980s as organizations began to push for cleanup due to the heighten threat of ground water contamination leading to contamination of the Colorado River. There has been steady mobilization by organizations and the government to clean-up the large area completely. <br/><br/>The site has been in remediation since 1989 and continues to be cleaned up. However, due to the size and extensive contamination it is expected that the clean up will not be complete soon. Annually, around 2 billion dollars is spent on the remediation. <br/><br/><a class="seeless" href="#">(See less)</a></div></td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Basic Data</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Name</td><td>Plutonium Production at Hanford near Native American Reservations, USA</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Country</td><td><a href="/country/united-states-of-america">United States of America </a></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Province</td><td>Washington</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Site</td><td>Hanford</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Accuracy of Location</td><td>HIGH local level</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Source of Conflict</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Type of Conflict (1st level)</td><td>Industrial and Utilities conflicts</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Type of Conflict (2nd level)</td><td>Military installations</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Specific Commodities</td><td><a href='/commodity/land'>Land</a><br /><a href='/commodity/industrial-waste'>Industrial waste</a><br />Plutonium</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Project Details and Actors</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Project Details</td><td class="columns">The US Department Of Energy estimated that radioactive and chemical contamination included: 2,300 tons of spent nuclear fuel, stored in two aging basins just 400 yards from the Columbia River, 12 tons of plutonium in various forms, 25 million cubic feet of buried or stored solid waste, much of it in unlined trenches, 1400 waste sites (more were discovered later), 500 contaminated facilities, 200-square miles of contaminated groundwater, with 80-square miles exceeding the EPA's "acceptable risk" for drinking water standards, and 53 million gallons of high-level nuclear waste in 177 aging underground storage tanks. </td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Project Area (in hectares)</td><td>151,773</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Level of Investment (in USD)</td><td>Clean up has spent 40 billion in the last 20 years on clean up. Expected to take another 110 billion to finish the clean up</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Type of Population</td><td>Rural</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Potential Affected Population</td><td>1500</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Start Date</td><td>1944</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Relevant government actors</td><td>Army Corps of Engineers, United States Executive, Washington State Department of Ecology, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Environmental justice organisations and other supporters</td><td>League of Women, Voters, Heart of America Northwest, the, Government Accountability Project and Columbia, Riverkeeper, Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">The Conflict and the Mobilization</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)</td><td>MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">When did the mobilization begin</td><td>In REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Groups Mobilizing</td><td>Farmers<br /> Indigenous groups or traditional communities</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Forms of Mobilization</td><td>Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Impacts</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Environmental Impacts</td><td><strong>Visible: </strong>Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion<br /><strong>Potential: </strong>Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Health Impacts</td><td><strong>Visible: </strong>Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Socio-economic Impacts</td><td><strong>Visible: </strong>Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Displacement</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Outcome</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Project Status</td><td>In operation</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Pathways for conflict outcome / response</td><td>The project and location is still in operation. The plutonium waste storage facility recently found a leak that has begun contaminating a small area of land. Remediation plans are being formed by the US Department of Energy. </td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Do you consider this as a success?</td><td>Not Sure</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Why? Explain briefly.</td><td>Not Sure, the potential for contamination as well as the degradation of areas that were promised through treaties to the Native American population was allowed to happen for decades by the U.S government. The contamination is rampant and the land will most likely never be able to serve the same purpose as it did prior to the facility in 1944. While it is good that the mobilization allowed for the clean up process there are several issues that will never be resolved.</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Sources and Materials</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">References</td><td><table><tr><td><p> Oregon Department of Energy . (n.d.). Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) about Hanford. Oregon DOE. Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility . (n.d.). The Challenge of Hanford and Health . Seattle : Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility<br/></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Links</td><td><table><tr><td><p> Hanford Superfund Site History<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Voices of the Manhattan Project<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Daily Mail - America's most toxic nuclear weapons production site which produced plutonium for the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki is now a national park<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Other Documents</td><td><table><tr><td><p> Source:<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Other Comments</td><td>This is one of the top 40 influential environmental justice cases in the United States identified from a national survey of environmental activists, scholars and other leaders by graduate students at the University of Michigan.</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Meta Information</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Contributor</td><td>Sara Orvis, [email protected], University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Last update</td><td>04/01/2016</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div>