American taxpayers can only hope Op-Ed writers Robert Thompson and Carl Adrian are right about Hanford’s cleanup being cheaper and still safe.
Unfortunately, as I know from my involvement with Hanford issues since 1984, the Department of Energy and its contractors have proved repeatedly over the last 75 years that they cannot be trusted with the public’s health.
We must remember, as documented in Kristen Iversen’s 2012 memoir “Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats,” that DOE and its contractors slashed billions of dollars from the cleanup budget for Rocky Flats, a former nuclear-weapons plant outside Denver. They accomplished this by drastically raising the “acceptable” soil concentration of plutonium. Now, Denver-area residents must contend with the worst plutonium contamination in the world.
Plutonium remains hazardous for more than 200,000 years, and Hanford has plenty of it. The U.S. government has a moral responsibility to make Hanford and its other nuclear-weapons plants safe for future generations. Northwest citizens and tribes must have a more integral role in managing the cleanup.
James P. Thomas, Seattle