It’s not what you think.
We have to hope that the procrastination of the Hanford cleanup doesn’t kill us all. Our home values would be the least of our concerns.
It’s really true there’s no free lunch. Yes, the United States beat Russia in the race to develop the first nuclear bomb. There are many books on the subject and The Manhattan Project was one of the most ambitious undertakings in the 240 year history of this country in size and scale.
The downside is, we’ve been trying to clean up the site for over 70 years and are nowhere near complete. Current estimates are $2 billion per year until cleanup is complete in 2050.
There are 53 million gallons of radioactive waste in stored in 177 underground tanks. One third of these tanks are leaking radioactive waste into the soil and groundwater. Aquifers are containing 270 billion gallons of contaminated groundwater. As of 2008, 1 million gallons of radioactive waste was traveling through the groundwater toward the Columbia River.
I don’t know about you, but that makes me lean towards Alaskan Salmon at the seafood counter.
From a recent article comparing the risk of Hanford to what happened in Fukushima, Japan.
On 29 September 1957 a tank containing waste similar to the waste in the Hanford Tank Farms exploded at the Mayak plutonium production site in the former Soviet Union, known as the Kyshtym Disaster. The cooling system for one of the tanks at the Mayak site failed and the temperature inside the tank rose eventually causing a chemical explosion that sent a radioactive cloud for over 350 km downwind and heavily contaminated an area near the plant with catastrophic levels of cesium-137 and strontium-90. This was one of the worst radiological disasters in human history at the time, and remained so, along with the fire three weeks later inside a nuclear reactor core at the Windscale facility (now called Sellafield) in Cumbria in the United Kingdom, until the Chernobyl meltdown and explosion in 1987. The Kyshtym Disaster, which a Soviet study concluded resulted directly in 8,000 deaths (not to mention illnesses) was the consequence of an explosion in one tank. At Hanford there are currently 177 such tanks, each containing similar disastrous potential, and located beside one another.
If you do the math on the population of people downwind, all I can say is we’d better hope those cooling systems continue to work or this place will be uninhabitable for a century. And that’s just one scenario.
I’m anxiously awaiting the Trump administration to roll out its infrastructure plan. Rumor has it a small, private outfit in Montana with connections to Ivanka Trump’s wedding planner will be put in charge of the cleanup. If that happens, I’m moving.