New Report on Hanford Released

Columbia Riverkeeper’s “Hanford Vision Report” examines how competing visions for Hanford’s future—from the perspectives of tribal nations, the federal government, and the states of Oregon and Washington—will determine Hanford’s nuclear legacy. The report offers recommendations to address Energy’s controversial vision for the future of Hanford and information on how people can get involved.


New Report: U.S. Dept. of Energy’s Vision For Hanford Puts People, Columbia River at Risk

July 17, 2018 (Portland, OR)—Columbia Riverkeeper released a report today exposing how the U.S. Department of Energy’s (Energy) controversial plans to leave radioactive and toxic waste at the Hanford Nuclear Site jeopardize public health and safe access to Hanford. The report, “Competing Visions for the Future of Hanford,” details how Energy frequently ignores input from tribal nations and the states of Oregon and Washington on critical cleanup decisions that guide how much radioactive and toxic pollution will remain in Hanford’s soils and groundwater. The result: Energy repeatedly issues short-sighted cleanup plans that ignore how tribal people and the general public will use the Hanford Site and Columbia River.

Our research revealed a failure on Energy’s part to envision a long-term future where people can use Hanford and the Columbia River without getting sick from radioactive and toxic pollution,” stated Dan Serres, Conservation Director for Columbia Riverkeeper. “The report shows how, time and again, Energy defaults to building fences, signs, and concrete caps instead of cleaning up dangerous pollution.

Alfrieda Peters, Education and Outreach Specialist with the Yakama Nation, and a contributor to the report stated, “The Yakama Nation has a clear vision for Hanford, we envision a future where our people fully enjoy our ancestral homelands to practice our traditional way of life and gather our cultural foods safe from any worries of radioactivity; a place that sustains the cultural practices of Yakama members and improves life for our neighbors and future generations.

The report’s release coincides with  Energy’s controversial proposal to re-label high-level waste as “low-level” to avoid costly cleanup actions. Earlier this month, Energy proposed to reclassify high-level waste in Hanford’s underground tanks to justify leaving dangerous material in the ground. “Energy needs a wake-up call from people across the Northwest: Hanford cleanup matters—today and for generations to come,” states Serres.

The report’s key takeaways include:

  • Tribal nations have treaty-protected rights to use and inhabit Hanford, yet Energy fails to account for these uses in its long-term plans.
  • By failing to acknowledge future potential uses by tribal members and the general public, Energy fails to set adequate goals for removing, treating, and disposing Hanford’s dangerous toxic and radioactive waste.
  • Energy can do better. By adopting recommendations from the State-Tribal Governments Working Group, investing in active remediation, and making decisions to comply with treaties, the U.S. government can protect the Columbia River and the people who depend on it.

The Hanford area has great traditional and religious significance to Columbia Plateau tribes and is home to multiple traditional cultural properties, traditional use areas, as well as significant ceremonial sites.

Tribal nations and people across the Northwest have changed the course of history at Hanford—stopping government proposals to import off-site nuclear waste and other dangerous plans. The report highlights how people can take action today to protect our health and clean water,” states Serres.



About Columbia Riverkeeper

Columbia Riverkeeper’s mission is to protect and restore the water quality of the Columbia River and all life connected to it, from the headwaters to the Pacific Ocean. Representing over 12,000 members and supporters, Columbia Riverkeeper works to restore a Columbia River where people can safely eat the fish they catch and where children can swim without fear of toxic exposure. Columbia Riverkeeper is a member of Waterkeeper Alliance, the world’s fastest-growing environmental movement, uniting more than 300 Waterkeeper organizations worldwide. For more information, go to