Why Young People Should Care

columbia river salmon

I think young people in our Evergreen State should care about Hanford, because whether we like it or not we are inheriting the Hanford site as the next generation of people. This is a problem that will affect us at home if we don’t work to stop it now. We as young people also need to continue the cleanup process as those who did before us no longer can. This could affect the food we eat because the radiation is leaking into our fresh water and our soil. The people who live in the Native American reservation right next to the site are going to be more heavily affected.  The tribes deserve safe access in the future to hunt and fish as allowed by treaty.

As a young person learning about Hanford, I have many concerns, including how far pollution has traveled from the Hanford site. A research team detected the radioactive chemical, zinc-65 8000 times higher than normal squid and shellfish in the water around Cannon Beach, Oregon, which is 365 miles away from Hanford! And that was in 1964! The same study by a Scripps Oceanographic Research team detected Hanford radionuclides in the Puget Sound. Some of the fish that reside in the Columbia River have been shown to have dangerously high levels of radionuclides and toxic chemicals. Tribal people eat much more fish from the river and face a 1 in 50 risk of contracting cancer as a result

It is vital that people my age and younger get involved in the cleanup so that it doesn’t affect our environment more than it already has. Clean up entails demolition of the Hanford site facilities and moving the waste to a regulated landfill at Hanford. We also have to protect the people directly at the site working to clean up the toxic waste. By working to clean this mess, our environment will be healthier and cleaner, bringing us closer to saving our Mother Earth. Young people have a duty to our state, our country, and our world, to keep our environment clean.

by: Erik Ernevad

Seattle High School Student

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