Hanford: A Hub For Recreation?

Blog post by Theresa Labriola, Riverkeeper’s Hanford Coordinator—

Imagine spending a day exploring Hanford’s unique landscapes, including the Hanford Dunes, viewing the wildlife of Hanford’s undisturbed shrub-steppe habitat, and fishing in the free-flowing Hanford Reach. Seventy years of nuclear contamination have scarred Hanford and damaged many of these recreational opportunities and natural resources. But now, a group of federal, state and tribal representatives – the Hanford Trustees – are taking the first steps towards restoration. Let the Trustees know that recreation is an important resource that you want to see restored at Hanford.

The Trustees have drafted the Injury Assessment Plan to study the damage to Hanford’s natural resources and calculate the cost of restoration. Once the Trustees define the injury they will rehabilitate the land and water and restore cultural and recreational uses.

Although the Trustees will to study impacts to wildlife, groundwater and cultural resources, they declined to study the injury to non-tribal recreational activities, such as fishing, boating, hunting, and wildlife viewing. Arguably, the nuclear activities and contamination changed the way we recreate at Hanford and on the Hanford Reach. But, the Trustees say they are unaware of any studies to date that have identified negative impacts to recreation. Ask the Trustees to collect the necessary background data and determine whether nuclear contamination injured Hanford’s recreational uses.

Also, the Trustees’ Plan does not adequately address the toxic effects of radionuclides on salmon and other fish during reproduction and development. The Hanford Reach is critical habitat for both salmon and steelhead. Contaminants, such as Chromium, were discharged directly into the Hanford Reach and continue to pollute salmon spawning grounds and nursery areas. Chromium can harm salmon reproduction and growth. This may in turn affect salmon recovery and recreational fishing opportunities. Let the Trustees know that you want them to study the affects of radionuclides on salmon and their recovery.

Your involvement can help restore important fisheries, habitats and cultural and recreational opportunities. Send a message to the Trustees. Tell them you support a comprehensive Injury Assessment Plan that includes studies to:

• assess the impact and injury to recreational activities at Hanford. The Site supports unique natural features and wildlife that are the cornerstone of recreation.

• examine the toxic effects of radionuclides on salmon and other fish during development and reproduction. The Hanford Reach is home to 43 fish species, and is designated critical habitat for both salmon and steelhead which spawn here.

Learn more about the Hanford Natural Resource Damage Assessment process at www.hanfordnrda.org.

Submit written comments by January 4, 2013 to Larry.Goldstein@ecy.wa.gov.




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