Nuclear Energy Development

The Hanford Nuclear Site is the most contaminated place in the Western Hemisphere.

The U.S. government’s mission at Hanford: cleanup. Now, X-energy wants to site more nuclear infrastructure—a small modular nuclear reactor—at Hanford. Bad idea. Period.

The problem

A company, X-energy, proposes to site a small modular nuclear reactor (SMR) at Energy Northwest’s campus north of Richland, WA. The Energy Northwest campus is surrounded by the Hanford Nuclear Site and the Columbia River. 

The U.S. government chose the Hanford area for the Manhattan Project during World War II. For over forty years, the United States produced plutonium for nuclear weapons, and released hundreds of billions of gallons of liquid chemical and radioactive waste into the soil and groundwater. The U.S. Dept. of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, and Washington Department of Ecology signed the Tri-Party Agreement in 1989 to ensure a comprehensive cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Site. Decades of cleanup have occurred since the signing of the legally binding agreement. Still today, the U.S. government is trying and failing to prevent more radioactive releases into the soil and groundwater at Hanford.

Cleanup at Hanford is ongoing and essential to protect the Columbia River and surrounding communities from exposure to toxic, radioactive waste. Nuclear waste stays radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years, which creates a substantial burden on future generations. A new nuclear reactor and its inevitable waste would further perpetuate the burden of cleanup. 


Q&A: Nuclear Energy Development Threatens the Columbia River

Take a deep dive to learn more about small modular nuclear reactors.

How we engage

Riverkeeper pairs in-depth technical research, legal advocacy, and grassroots organizing to protect the Columbia River from more nuclear-energy development. We work in solidarity with the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, which strongly opposes the reactor proposal.

Take Action

Ask elected officials to oppose more nuclear-energy development at Hanford.