Nuclear Power Proposed for Nuclear Clean-up at Hanford

The Irony Is Unmistakable

We have learned that Hanford is being considered as a site for developing “small modular” nuclear reactors. As reported in the Tri-City Herald and multiple other news outlets, the U.S. Department of Energy (USDOE) is considering Hanford as a potential experimentation area for using and even building these modular reactors, which are smaller than typical current commercial nuclear power plants.

Photo by Matt McCormick

Regardless of their size and design, modular nuclear reactors produce nuclear waste, and they would require hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer funding through USDOE to get established at Hanford. Most importantly, the Columbia River flows through the Hanford site, already the most radioactively polluted site in North America. New reactors would only add to Hanford’s waste problem.

Ironically, supporters of new nuclear reactors at Hanford are arguing that Hanford’s enormous nuclear pollution problem is the reason to build more nuclear power at Hanford. They argue that the power of demands of running Hanford’s Waste Treatment Plant, a facility designed to turn highly radioactive waste into glass logs, could be met by building new nuclear power. In short, supporters of the new nuclear power plants at Hanford want to treat nuclear waste by creating more nuclear power (and waste).

Indeed, Washington Governor Chris Gregoire wrote a letter of support for new nuclear power at Hanford to Energy Secretary Chu, specifically citing the power needs of the nuclear cleanup operation. The Washington federal delegation also weighed in supporting new nuclear power generation at Hanford, with the notable exception of Congressman Jim McDermott.

Unfortunately, Washington’s Governor and most of its Congressional delegation are supporting more nuclear power at Hanford before our region can understand its risks and implications. Our elected officials should not endorse a new nuclear power experiment at Hanford while the contamination from our previous nuclear activities still percolates through Hanford soils to the Columbia River.

Our voices are critical for exposing this new nuclear scheme at Hanford.


Contact your representatives today to tell them you oppose new nuclear power at Hanford, the health of the Columbia and our safety is at stake. Any decisions made will affect our entire region. 


Contact your Washington representative – tell them you oppose new nuclear power at Hanford


Contact your Oregon representative – tell them to oppose new nuclear power plants in the Pacific NW


DONATE today to support Riverkeeper’s work to encourage clean-up & oppose new nuclear power plants at Hanford.



2 Responses to “Nuclear Power Proposed for Nuclear Clean-up at Hanford”

  1. Chuck Johnson says:

    Excellent, timely story. Thanks, CRK!

  2. Mira says:

    Thank you for this important story– hard to believe. Could you please put some sense of time into it? When was the letter written? Is there a timeframe for decisionor discussion about this?