To ensure the complete and timely cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Site, we review and critique cleanup and restoration plans.

We write comment letters detailing our analyses, publish articles and blog posts, and prepare fact sheets to help others understand the plans and how to protect the Columbia River. By clicking the links below, you can view and download our work.

Geese at Hanford Reach flying over the water.
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The Hanford issue

The fight to clean up the most polluted place in America

Map of Washington State showing the location of Hanford Nuclear Reservation with details on the map showing locations of facilities in relation to the Columbia River.
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Timeline of Hanford

Since time immemorial this area along the Columbia River was inhabited by Indigenous People

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Hanford Cleanup Champions

An Interview with Yakama Nation’s Hanford Cleanup Team

Text over grassland landscape with mountains in the background. Text reads “I’m sharing why Hanford needs your voice.  I need to look out for my people."
Generational Advocacy

ERWM STEM Coordinator Samantha Redheart reflects on the intersection of educational sovereignty and fostering the next generation of Hanford cleanup advocates

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Hanford Newsletter Playlist

Want to hear all the stories from Columbia Riverkeeper's Currents Issue 1, 2023 Newsletter?

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The Land Speaks

Staff Attorney Simone Anter shares a creative essay about Hanford.

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Look Forward
Where Grief and Hope Can Coexist

Sustaining Gifts Director Dianne Riley reflects on her personal history with activism. 

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Water's Walk Through Hanford

Columbia Riverkeeper’s interactive story map, “Water’s Walk Through Hanford,” breaks down some of the most dangerous pollutants and cleanup areas at Hanford, bringing the cleanup to life.

"Read All About it: Hanford"

"Hanford: Read All About It: Bonus Interviews"

Hanford The Paradox

Hanford The Hidden Beauty

Hanford Invisible Life

 Hanford—A Future Worth Fighting For:

"Why Scientists Fear a Chernobyl-like Catastrophe at Hanford Webinar" Love your Columbia Webinar 

Watch this video "Hanford: A Race Against Time":
Get inspired: Moving footage of the Hanford Reach

KOIN News public service announcements featuring Columbia Riverkeeper:

Hanford Journey 2019

Over 150 people gathered along the Columbia’s scenic Hanford Reach for The Hanford Journey, a day-long event to celebrate the late Dr. Russell Jim and demand a thorough cleanup of the Nuclear Site.



Articles & Blog Posts:

Fact Sheets:

Comment Letters:

Hanford Curriculum:

Other Resources:

Learn more about Hanford's nuclear legacy, the Department of Energy's responsibility to remove the contamination and what other government agencies and nonprofits are doing to protect northwest communities and the Columbia River from contamination.

The Birds of Hanford

Much more than a nuclear waste site, over 258 species of birds call the Hanford Reach home

Historic Hanford

The 586‐square‐mile Hanford Nuclear Site is a legacy of World War II and the Cold War.

In 1943, the federal government selected Hanford as a top‐secret site for the Manhattan Project, which called for enriching plutonium for nuclear weapons. Located in a sparsely populated area in south‐central Washington State near the city of Richland, the federal government quickly evacuated and condemned the small towns of White Bluffs and Hanford. The government also denied access to Native Americans who lived along the river and had historically used the area for fishing, hunting, food gathering, and religious purposes. Within a year, the U.S. constructed the world’s first large-scale nuclear reactor. In August 1945, concentrated plutonium manufactured at Hanford powered the nuclear bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan.

The United States eventually built nine nuclear reactors along the Columbia River to produce plutonium and other materials. The river provided electricity from the Grand Coulee Dam and abundant water to cool the nuclear reactors.

From 1943 to 1989, the federal government generated unprecedented volumes of hazardous and radioactive waste. For example, Hanford released approximately 725,000 curies of radioactive iodine‐131 between 1944 and 1957. In contrast, the 1979 famous accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania released between 15 and 24 curies of iodine‐131.

During Hanford’s operation, the federal government disposed of hundreds of millions of gallons of radioactive waste directly into the ground—injection wells, trenches, and buried drums. D.O.E. also placed waste in 177 large underground tanks, many of which are now leaking. The United States also discharged contaminated cooling water into the Columbia River from the nuclear reactors, which contained about 110 million curies of mostly short‐lived radionuclides. Hanford operations also resulted in air emissions of approximately 20 million curies from 1944 to 1972. Citizens downwind report increased rates of thyroid cancer as a result of the iodine releases.

Our Work

Legal advocacy and community organizing stop pollution, fight fossil fuels, save salmon, engage communities, and clean up Hanford.