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NBC stations reveal nuclear workers suffering severe brain damage Toxic waste raining down from sky, wore baseball caps for protection Brains being eaten away, teeth falling out Workers raising safety issues framed using false evidence, fired Gov't agency not allowed in to investigate (VIDEO)

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Published: June 6th, 2014 at 5:30 pm ET
NBC Right Now, Apr. 30, 2014: Former Hanford Worker Sick from Nuclear Waste
  • Jane Sander, reporter: A nuclear waste spill happened hours before at the tank farm.
  • Lonnie Poteet, Hanford worker: I was already burning from my glove line to my t-shirt line and… starting to lose a little bit of vision in my right eye… Why didn't they say something?
  • Sander: Poteet describes living his life now as recluse… sharp pains in his head, they cause him to often twitch. He says medication prevents him from collapsing in pain due to severe nerve damage in his brain.
    [Image: email_famfamfam.png] Email Article

  • Poteet: [More Hanford workers] are going to be exposed to the same situation… Nobody is going to do anything to stop it… As long as there's profit… and they get their bonuses on a decent time, that's all they care about… Most of the workers onsite right now are running scared. They will not bring up any safety concerns because as soon as you do, you're going to be labeled and thrown off the site, just as fast as they can go. They'll either create stuff that never happened, or they'll find ways to get you.
  • Watch the broadcast here
NBC Right Now, June 5, 2014: Sick Former Hanford Worker Speaks Out
  • Jane Sander, reporter: He sadly lives his life with a deadly disease…
  • Lawrence Rouse, Hanford worker: I have toxic encephalopathy… it eats your brain away.
  • Sander: Near the end of his almost 20 years at Hanford… he began to develop severe symptoms. Stuttering, memory loss, losing teeth…emotionally unstable…violent outbursts.
  • Rouse: [My son] wrote this letter, this little poem, and said that his dad is gone… It would rain the chemicals on you from the stack. That's why we wore the baseball caps.
  • Sander: The Washington Dept. of Labor and DOE denied [compensation]… Since the [EEOICPA] program began in 2001, they've paid more than $1 billion in compensation and medical bills to [6,936 Hanford] workers…
  • Rouse: DOE has always denied everything. And that's not going to change.
  • Sander: More Hanford workers continue to file claims for their illnesses.
  • Watch the broadcast here
KING 5 Seattle (NBC), June 4, 2014: It's an unprecedented series of workplace accidents in the state. Since mid-March the number Hanford workers seeking medical help after breathing in chemical vapors has risen to 34.
  • Susannah Frame, reporter: Vapors causing serious illnes
    [Image: email_famfamfam.png] Email Article
    ses at Hanford is not new… at the most contaminated workplace in the nation, OSHA can't get past the gates to investigate.
  • Diana Gegg, Hanford worker: It's turned my life upside down.
  • Frame: Brain damage, sudden tremors, vision loss, dementia Illnesses the gov't admits were caused by exposure… she can't go out without a wheelchair, cook, or drive.
  • Watch the broadcast here
Hanford is a rather complex situation. It is the USA's largest and worst nuclear waste dump and ALSO has toxic chemicals dumped there too. Bechtel has most of the contract for 'clean up' and burial. People still work there, though it is semi-officially closed. It is really a complex of locations and it doesn't surprise me that many are suffering from chemical and nuclear exposures. What went on there [and to a limited extent still does] has been kept from the American People - as most everything there was top secret weapons production. Even the groundwater in the area has been polluted and parts of the complex is near a very large river [Columbia] is a total mess and likely can never been cleaned up effectively. All humans should be removed and even animals should be discouraged from passing through or living there.
How did we get where we are?

Hanford is the most contaminated nuclear site in the western world. Hanford's radioactive and toxic wastes pose serious health and environmental threats. They are a legacy of international tension and nuclear weapons production in the last century. The challenge of Hanford today is a tapestry woven from this complex history. The tapestry is colored by four principal threads that still interfere with cleanup efforts.
The first thread is the extreme secrecy and isolation of this government project starting in 1943 in the midst of World War II. In most cases the Hanford workers did not know that their job was making the plutonium for atomic bombs until the bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. Security remained very tight during the decades of the Cold War. The government did not reveal a number of significant health-related events until forced to do so in the late 1980s by citizen exercise of the Freedom of Information Act. Although highly sophisticated radiation monitoring was performed throughout the history of Hanford, the government did not tell the public the details, repeatedly assuring them that everything was safe.
A second thread is the Hanford workers' pride in their work and a strong sense of community that tolerated no criticism from insiders who knew of dangers or safety violations. Rejection, isolation and denial still meet whistleblowers' efforts, and local pride still clamors for "production" jobs at Hanford.
The third thread is the slowly evolving understanding of radiobiology and its acceptance by political figures. For example, initial hopes that the soil would hold wastes from leaching into the groundwater were eventually proven wrong. The Chernobyl disaster alerted the public that serious accidents could occur at Hanford. The resulting contamination of the Columbia and its basin would affect the population of the entire Northwest. Increasing understanding of the effects of relatively low level radiation on DNA and the long lag time before such radiation effects are apparent in humans and animals has further focused public desire to safely contain the highly toxic nuclear wastes at Hanford.
The fourth thread is the tangled, often incestuous relationship between the US Government as represented by its local agency, the Department of Energy (DOE), and the large corporations doing most of the contracted work at Hanford. Often the government awarded contracts on bids involving lowest cost estimates that have led to disappointing progress, unsafe procedures and contractor turnover. General Electric followed Dupont, then Atlantic Richfield (ARCO), then Rockwell, then Westinghouse, and currently Fluor Daniel and Bechtel. Large bonuses for reaching or exceeding projected volumes of production of plutonium for our warheads lured corporations into giving a very low priority to safety measures and control of radioactive waste. The termination in 2000 of British Nuclear Fuels Ltd. for mammoth estimated cost increases for glassification (vitrification) of high level wastes is but the latest example of Hanford's contractor problems.
Under the pressures of World War II, the US government had sought a remote area providing abundant water and power, and allowing for extreme secrecy for the production of plutonium for the atomic bomb. The current Hanford site on the Columbia River appeared ideal. In early 1943 inhabitants were evicted with token compensation, the government quickly moved in 50,000 workers, and two separations facilities and three reactors were in operation just 18 months after ground was broken. With the sense of urgency generated by World War II, secrecy was paramount. Wastes were dumped in the soil and the river, and large volumes of high-level waste were placed in huge single-shell storage tanks with the assumption that the wastes could be taken care of properly after the war.
As Cold War production pressures continued to build, the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 was enacted to build nuclear weapons in total secrecy, without any local, state or even congressional oversight. By the 1960s nine Hanford reactors were producing plutonium. Still there was no long-term plan for safe waste containment. Leakage of high-level radioactive wastes from the single-shelled tanks was already suspected by 1956. Low-level waste continued to be put into drums or open trenches, often mixed with other toxic wastes.
The true situation at Hanford remained hidden from the public. The community faith in "good jobs, good pay, and a good cause" had long fostered an emphasis on production and a neglect of safety. Anyone critical could expect immediate and crushing reprisal from the "Hanford community" and the corporations. Only after a particularly brave inspector and whistleblower leaked information to the press and a very revealing series of expose articles appeared in the newspapers did any meaningful changes occur. The contractor, Rockwell, like the US government before it, kept secret the reports of many breaches and breakdowns, and the Department of Energy failed to maintain the strict oversight required of it by law.
What led to the cleanup effort?

By the mid-1980s, the Freedom of Information Act allowed an alerted public to review Hanford documents from the 1940s and 1950s. These documents revealed that incredible contamination of the environment and exposure of large numbers of citizens to dangerous amounts of radioactive nuclides had occurred in Hanford's earlier years. By 1957 eight plutonium production reactors dumped a daily average of 50,000 curies of radioactive material into the Columbia. Perhaps the most dramatic of these events was the "Green Run" in December 1949, when 8,000 curies of iodine-131 were intentionally released from ("green") nuclear fuel with only a short cooling period. This secret release was part of a US intelligence effort to develop capability for detecting Russian plutonium production. Although the plume covered an area of 200 by 40 miles, no warnings were given and no follow-up of area residents was conducted. By comparison, only 15 -24 curies of iodine-131 were released at Three Mile Island.
The public in Washington and Oregon became concerned enough to demand action in cleaning up Hanford. Three agencies, the Washington State Department of Ecology, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the US Department of Energy (DOE) entered into The Hanford Federal Facility Agreement and Consent Order, known as the Tri-Party Agreement. This historic agreement, hammered out in 1989, set out schedules and tasks to accomplish cleanup of the site over the next 30 years. While some milestones have been met since 1989, the agreement has suffered repeated schedule and cost overruns by the DOE.
The plan for the high-level tank wastes at Hanford was to put them into molten glass that would then cool in steel containers (vitrification). This process of containing materials that will remain radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years is used at other sites in this country and abroad. But at Hanford no vitrification plant has been constructed nor has one gram of material been vitrified. When the DOE has failed to reach cleanup deadlines, at times the EPA and the WA Department of Ecology have responded by granting extensions that exempt the DOE from fines for non-compliance with the Tri-Party Agreement. The delays in emptying leaking tanks on time finally led WA State Governor Locke to threaten to sue DOE for breaking Tri-Party Agreement commitments.
The controversy about the proposal to restart the Fast Flux Test Facility (FFTF) has distracted attention from Hanford's huge legacy of nuclear waste. Restarting the reactor would add new waste streams. The FFTF started operations in 1982 as part of the national breeder reactor program, but the program was shut down while it was still under construction. Ever since, this has been a facility in search of a mission. While the DOE ordered the FFTF to be shut down completely in 1993, local community interests pressed for it to remain on standby at the cost of over $40 million per year. Early in 2001 and again at the end of the year after yet another review, the DOE decided to permanently close the facility. WPSR and other public interest groups continue to urge compliance with this decision.
Additional forces confound Hanford cleanup. If material for the recently proposed mini-nukes were produced at Hanford, the volume and radioactivity of waste would increase. Wastes at Hanford will also increase because the DOE has selected the site as a major waste repository for low-level radioactive and toxic chemical wastes from other DOE facilities around the nation. The serious public and environmental health dangers of Hanford will only be mitigated when control and containment of its nuclear waste is its sole mission.
Suggested Further Reading

  • Columbia River United (CRU), Hanford and the River, 1997
  • D'Antonio, Michael, Atomic Harvest: Hanford and the Lethal Toll of America's Nuclear Arsenal, 1993, New York: Crown Publishers
  • Gerber, Michelle, On the Home Front, 1992, Lincoln, NE: Univ. of NE Press
  • Loeb, Paul, Nuclear Culture: Living and Working in the World's Largest Atomic Complex, 1986, (2nded.) Philadelphia: New Society Publishers
  • Oregon Office of Energy, Hanford Cleanup: The First Ten Years, 1999, OOE Safety Division.
  • U.S. Department of Energy (USDOE) Office on Environmental Management, Linking Legacies: Connecting the Cold War Nuclear Weapons Production Processes to Their Environmental Consequences, 1997, Washington, DC: USDOE
  • USDOE Office of Environmental Management, Closing the Circle on Splitting of the Atom, 1996, Washington, DC: USDOE
Hanford's Toxic Legacy
John Howieson, MD and Sean Tenney
Oregonians are generally aware of our state's natural environment, and justly proud of it. With a stunning coastline, the fertile Willamette Valley, the coastal and Cascade Mountains in the west and the Wallowa Mountains in the east, and the high desert among Oregon's many natural attractions, there are innumerable delights to be enjoyed. That's the good news. The bad news is that we also have thirteen incomplete Superfund cleanup sites contaminating our state, a significant dead zone in the ocean off the central coast (the exact cause of which has not yet been fully determined), a major earthquake sometime in our future and the world's worst nuclear contamination site, the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, just a few hours east of Portland along the Columbia River.
Contamination at Hanford is so severe, these machines will ultimately be buried on-site.
Surprisingly, many Oregonians appear to be blissfully unaware of the last of these problems, even though it poses a continuing threat to the Columbia River bordering our state, to our largest city, and to the health of citizens throughout the Northwest. Created under the auspices of the Manhattan Project to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons during World War Two, the Hanford site began almost immediately to release radioactive and toxic chemical contaminants into the air and soil of the surrounding region and into the Columbia River, our once pristine source of irrigation, power, salmon, and recreation. It wasn't long before the public health effects of these releases became apparent, especially among Hanford site workers and "downwinders," area residents who lived in close proximity to the facility's radioactive and chemical pollution.
The worst of the contamination at Hanford was caused by pumping the clear, cool river water through nine plutonium-producing reactors to carry away the huge amounts of excess heat, the unused by-product of the process that produced plutonium, the explosive element at the core of nuclear bombs. After a cooling off period, this irradiated water was then dumped directly into the ground or into poorly lined storage tanks, making its way into the groundwater and into the Columbia. More contamination came from aerial releases, some of them intentional, and the dumping of chemically and radioactively toxic materials into 43 miles of unlined trenches and open, often unmarked pits throughout the site, an unfortunate approach that has made the cleanup of Hanford especially problematic.
Eight of the nine reactors ceased operation by 1971. The Hanford site is now formally managed by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), with the Washington State Dept. of Ecology and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulating the DOE's activities there. Since 1989 the mandate of the DOE is no longer the production of plutonium, but rather the cleanup of the environmental disaster left by previous generations. The cleanup is expected to cost upwards of $215 billion and take until at least 2060 to complete, though both cost and time estimates continue to rise. This legacy, which the DOE must now attempt to mitigate, includes nine dangerously radioactive nuclear reactors, eight of which have been, or are to be, encased in concrete and left for future generations to dismantle.
On a recent public tour of Hanford, members and staff of Oregon PSR were shown the decommissioned and decontaminated B Reactor, the first of its size capable of producing usable amounts of weapons grade plutonium. We were supposed to be awed
by the engineering achievement, but were simultaneously appalled by the terrible consequences of this effort. For
every ton of uranium subjected to neutron bombardment, only a miniscule amount of plutonium was produced. The separation of this plutonium resulted in tons of toxic and lethally radioactive waste and 53 million gallons of liquid waste remaining in 177 underground tanks, many of them increasingly leaky, awaiting processing in an as yet only half built $12.5 billion chemical plant. The plant is designed to turn this dangerous material into more safely storable glass through a process known as vitrification, but storage and disposal are not synonymous, especially when one considers the longevity of this materials' radioactive toxicity. In addition, it is estimated that there is about 25 million cubic feet of solid radioactive waste, much of which will be buried on site in excavations euphemistically called an Environmental Recovery Disposal Facility (ERDF).
The most contaminated location aside from the reactors is the "central plateau" where the "tank farms" and the plutonium finishing plant are located. We saw these sites on our way to the ERDF but, of course, viewed them from a safe distance. As with other aspects of the tour, we were left to marvel at the technological prowess of this, the largest and most expensive environmental cleanup project in the Western Hemisphere, while being challenged to reconcile this with the reality of Hanford's original purpose: production of the base materials for weapons of mass destruction, including the plutonium used in the "Fat Man" weapon that ultimately took the lives of an estimated 80,000 mostly civilian Japanese at Nagasaki in 1946. As we toured the B Reactor museum, we found that the exhibits and tour guide presentations devoted to the building of the first plutonium bomb were completely devoid of information about the impacts of the bomb on the people of Nagasaki. While the tour guides were generally forthcoming regarding Hanford's colossal environmental impact, some of us couldn't escape the feeling that we were being subjected to no small amount of pro-nuclear industry propaganda.
Oregon PSR will continue to monitor Hanford cleanup efforts, with John Howeison as our point person serving on the Hanford Advisory Board and closely following developments. We will be asking our members to weigh in on Hanford cleanup issues whenever we feel that we can make a meaningful difference. We are also working to confront the massive public health threats posed by the nuclear power industry, including the Columbia Generating Station located at Hanford, through our newly formed Oregon/Washington Joint Nuclear Power Task Force.
Here is the Hanford location (circled). Note it is surrounded by lots of people and agriculture, not to mention the Columbia River.
Take a gander at some of these photos HERE!

A lot of elk out there.A good way to fill your freezer.....NOT!!!!

Govt.proposes hunt to cull herd.

[Image: image001-png_162613.png] The Tri-City Herald, Richard Dickin June 1, 2013 3:26 PM

[Image: 438fef0e5bac8612330f6a706700fd2f.jpg]

A herd of elk graze Monday, May 7, 2012 near the school at the old Hanford, Wash. town site on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. The old town was taken over by the government in the early 1940's under its eminent domain authority. The government ordered about 1,500 residents of Hanford, White Bluffs, and nearby settlements to leave and also closed the area to the Wanapum band and regional tribes. Work is underway at the Hanford complex to clean up contamination from past production of nuclear weapons. (AP Photo/The Tri-City Herald, Richard Dickin)
This series was originally in 11 parts at Counterpunch.I really loved it.I see now that it is in only three parts with no pictures.:Sad:

Just a really nice read..Check it out at the link below:

"Down The Hanford Reach"
Keith Millea Wrote:This series was originally in 11 parts at Counterpunch.I really loved it.I see now that it is in only three parts with no pictures.:Sad:

Just a really nice read..Check it out at the link below:

"Down The Hanford Reach"

Thanks Keith! That was a great thread.
[Image: Screen-Shot-2014-04-23-at-10.13.50-AM-500x405.jpg]Hanford, Washington Site: Radioactive Levels Ten Times Lethal Limit At Cold War Nuclear Reservation

This 4-year old news item doesn't cite the exact levels, nor standards. Most 'lethal limit' standards, however, are for exposures of a few minutes to about half an hour...and most persons working there (and all the animals) spend between 8 - 24 hours there per day. There are levels of radiation that can kill in a minute or less......but likely not at Hanford now...but this seems to be an only slightly less lethal level...and a 'radiation suit' would only provide some minor protection from Alpha particles, not from ANY gamma radiation, and only from a little of beta radiation. They pay well for those who work there..and they they likely won't live long and their children will have birth defects...already many do!