Case Study: Hanford Nuclear Waste

Columbia Riverkeeper works with people in dozens of communities—from rural to urban—who share the same goals: Protect the health of their families and the places they love. 


Case Study: Hanford Nuclear Waste

Columbia Riverkeeper Paddle Trip on the Hanford Reach on July 26, 2015. Riverkeeper hosts this paddle trip annually as an opportunity to educate the public about Hanford’s cleanup. Photo by Sara Quinn

Columbia Riverkeeper (Riverkeeper) has been a public-interest voice for Hanford cleanup for two decades. Although Hanford's nuclear legacy poses an incredible cleanup challenge and threatens the Columbia, we are proud to contribute to meaningful progress in protecting the Hanford Reach.

What Worked?
  • In 2017, we engaged our members to challenge President Trump's proposal to reduce the Hanford Reach National Monument, a proposal that could have jeopardized the Hanford Reach's natural, cultural, tribal, and fisheries resources.
  • We encouraged the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy to address toxic hexavalent chromium contamination, which was upwelling into salmon habitat near mothballed plutonium reactors. EPA and DOE delved into cleanup with deep digs in the river corridor, reducing the amount of chromium entering the River.
  • Riverkeeper and partner groups encouraged EPA to invest in groundwater treatment. Now, EPA's massive pump-and-treat system near some of Hanford's worse pollution has treated billions of gallons of groundwater, removing tons of toxic and radioactive pollution before it can reach the Columbia.
  • Since 2000, Riverkeeper and our allies have successfully blocked proposals to make Hanford a dump site for Greater Than Class C (GTCC) radioactive waste and toxic mercury.
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