Hanford’s Dirty Secrets
KING 5 Television
The Hanford Nuclear Reservation, along a stretch of the Columbia River 200 miles from Seattle, is considered the most dangerous nuclear dump in the United States. The government made plutonium for atomic bombs there starting in 1943. Now it’s home to an underground storage tank “farm” that holds millions of gallons of toxic waste. KING-TV’s investigation documented how a tank leak, acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Energy in 2011, went untreated for nearly a year by the contractor responsible for Hanford’s upkeep and security. Photographs obtained by KING’s Susannah Frame clearly showed the corrosive, poisonous ooze that could have found its way into the region’s major freshwater resource. KING’s investigation also found that the DOE paid millions in bonus money to the contractor for its “very successful” management during that period. Responses included the governor of Washington’s call for an investigation, the DOE ordering a complete review of the tank farm operation, and the management company’s initiation of new safety measures. For revelations about a Washington toxic site that raised broader questions about our society’s handling of nuclear waste, Hanford’s Dirty Secrets receives a Peabody Award.
PRIMARY PRODUCTION CREDITS
Executive Director: Mark Ginther. Executive Producer: Russ Walker. Reporter: Susannah Frame. Photojournalist: Steve Douglas. Graphic Designer: John Vu.