Hanford’s Groundwater a Poison Pill

How to Ground Truth at the Hanford Nuclear Site

A brief tutorial on how to use public information to glean insight into the state of pollution at Hanford. 

By Simone Anter, Staff Attorney & Hanford Program Director

The Hanford Nuclear Site is one of the most complex cleanups in the region and holds the title for the most contaminated site in the western hemisphere. Located along the Hanford Reach, the last undammed 50 miles of the Columbia River, the threat of contamination reaching the River is very real. In fact, it’s a reality. 

Columbia Riverkeeper recently gave testimony (beginning at 29:15) to the Washington state legislature about our concerns at the site. Cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Site is a profoundly significant effort to protect clean water for countless generations. However, Hanford’s contamination remains an unsolved problem that threatens clean water for generations. 

After hearing from both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Washington Dept. of Ecology (Ecology), Riverkeeper’s testimony offered a blunt reality: pollution from Hanford reaches the River. This prompted legislators to ask, where do we get our information?

Great question.

Our information comes directly from the U.S. Department of Energy’s own reports, as well as information provided by Ecology. 

The tutorial below will explain to viewers how we use Energy’s yearly groundwater monitoring report to understand the current state of groundwater pollution. It will also walk viewers through how to use the publicly accessible PHOENIX website, a partnership between Energy and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, which provides real time access to groundwell data across Hanford as well as a vast amount of additional information about contamination at Hanford.

As Energy continues to push the narrative that cleanup of the River Corridor is almost complete, the public must understand how to use and interpret Energy’s own data in order to fully understand the extent of contamination that they are inheriting and how to think critically about the federal government’s cleanup narrative at Hanford.

This product is funded through a Public Participation Grant from the Washington State Department of Ecology. The content was reviewed for grant consistency but is not necessarily endorsed by the agency.