Hanford from the River

Boat by the white bluffsI’ve been very excited to spend this summer as a legal intern with Hanford Challenge.  I’ve already been able to help with many interesting and important issues, and the summer is far from over!  I’m looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish during my time here.

One of my favorite experiences so far happened during my first trip to the Hanford site with Hanford Challenge.  We spent an afternoon out on the Columbia River touring the site by boat.  It was a beautiful sunny afternoon – warm, with a bit of a breeze.  Perfect for a boat trip.

We put in just above Vernita Bridge and headed toward the site.  We began to see local wildlife almost immediately: a coyote trotting on a ridge, a herd of elk grazing near the water, mule deer leaping on the hills just above the river.  The banks of the river sported mulberry bushes, whose leaves and fruit can be tested to indicate radioactivity in the soil.  The reactors and concrete and chain link fences contrast starkly with the natural beauty of the river.

We continued downriver and soon came across the reactors.  We floated past B-Reactor and its giant river water intake.  C-Reactor was just behind, its cocooned shell visible in the distance.  Then there were the twin reactors, K-East and K-West, and then Hanford’s newest (but now decommissioned and cocooned) N-Reactor.  Then came D and DR Reactors, and finally we saw in the distance H-ReactorF-Reactor, and the area near it where animals like beagles and even alligators were tested to see their reaction to radiation, was hidden by a bend in the river.

As I looked to one side and saw Hanford’s reactors stretched out across the bank, then to the other and saw the prehistoric White Bluffs, now crumbling into the river, I couldn’t help but think how important it is to protect every aspect of this beautiful and historic area.  It would be a shame if the same beautiful views we saw on the river that day couldn’t be enjoyed for many years to come.

By: Nathan Reeves

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