"Nuclear Relic"

"The scale of operations at the Hanford Site, scene of a multi-billion-dollar cleanup of a half-century of accumulated hazardous waste, cannot fail to impress."

"Even the vocabulary there evokes the gargantuan, the muscular, the toxic. Hard heels. Chemical baths. Canyons. Ocean liners. Plutonium.

It is, its keepers boast, the largest, most complex cleanup site in the world. It is measured in decades, hundreds of square miles and billions of dollars.

Much of the cleanup work is done: mothballed reactors, demolished buildings, contaminated soil dug up by the ton and deposited in a sealed landfill. But much is left to accomplish. The site will be active until 2050, according to a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Energy.

The pace of operations accelerated with the infusion in 2009 of about $1.9 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the federal spending plan aimed at stimulating the struggling economy. One contractor, Washington River Protection Solutions, made what it describes as significant progress, using $12.6 million to create technology that increases sixfold its ability to move 56 million gallons of the world’s worst toxic sludge."

Joseph Ditzler reports for Oregon Public Broadcasting October 2, 2011.

Source: Oregon Public Broadcasting, 10/03/2011