In 2008, the Washington Department of Energy reported that 200 square miles of contaminated groundwater beneath the Hanford site could reach the Columbia River within 50 years without timely cleanup. Since then, the project has always been delayed and over budget. According to the Department of Energy report, the heavily contaminated, toxic groundwater could reach the Columbia River anytime within the next 40 years. But the Trump administration is proposing to cut $230 million from the 2019 cleanup budget.
I know nobody wants to listen to the uneducated street vendor’s suggestions, but I think we should move the Columbia River out from the Hanford site to stop this ticking bomb for people who rely on the river water, especially the people of Portland, Oregon. We don’t want Portland to become a repeat of the Marshall Islands, a nuclear testing site. Most of Washington’s voters and politicians do not live anywhere close to the Columbia River and not everybody knows how dangerous and contaminated the Hanford site is.
Decaying underground tanks are known to have leaked more than a million gallons of waste.
For 40 long years of nuclear weapons production, an estimated 440 billion gallons (700,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools) of contaminated liquid was dumped into the soil, ditches and groundwater. Decaying underground tanks are known to have leaked more than a million gallons of waste, located only 200 feet above the groundwater and 7 to 12 miles from the Columbia River.
KING 5’s investigation video shows that Hanford is still leaking thousands of gallons of contaminated waste straight into the soil. Nobody knows how big the underground wastewater really is and how close it is to the Columbia. A small amount of wastewater is constantly toward the river, and no one seems to be trying to stop it. I wonder if it’s because of the amount or if they just don’t know how to do it? What happens if the wastewater starts gushing down the Columbia today? Can our government stop it immediately?
I hope it’s not going to be like the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico: waiting until the disaster hits and then thinking about a solution.
We had a half century to think about the worst-case scenario. I believe our government already has a very beautiful plan to stop the disaster instantly. They know either how to cap the fountainhead of the mighty Columbia River or how to somehow put the shut-off valve into the natural underground water system. I hope it’s not going to be like the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico: waiting until the disaster hits and then thinking about a solution.
It is healthier for the river as well as easier and cheaper to separate the clean water from the contaminated before a disaster hits. If the contaminated water mixes into the river water, how can you then clean it? It will be constantly spreading and moving toward the Pacific Ocean and making everything radioactive. All the fish, birds and animals will drink the water and get sick and the people eating them will also get sick. The Hanford site needed water to cool off the plant but they don’t need that anymore except for the very ironic power plant that still operates in the cleanup site.
We should move the main river far away from that site, then create a small branch stream to the power plant.
We should move the main river far away from that site, then create a small branch stream to the power plant. That way when the emergency happens, we can cut the branch off. We don’t know about tomorrow. Maybe we have a big earthquake, an upstream dam break, record rainfall in Hanford or a big tank failure.
When we look at what happened in other states or Puerto Rico, we know we can no longer be dependent on the Trump administration or the federal government when it comes to environmental issues. We have to take care of everything at the local level even if we have low budgets or none at all. If our state doesn’t have the budget to take care of Hanford, our governor can still call for a thousand volunteers with shovels. So please move the Columbia River away from the Hanford site as soon as possible to stop this ticking nuclear bomb.
Carl Nakajima is a Real Change vendor. He sells at Elliott Bay Bookstore at 1521 10th Ave.
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