Sustainability is about ecology, economy and equity.- Ralph Bicknese

Nuclear Concerns in WA


Arial shot of the Hanford tank farm

Though media and films like The Dark Knight Rises can show nuclear power as the future of renewable energy, this isn’t necessarily the case. Nuclear energy has been controversial since its invention.

Nuclear concerns have increased since the 2011 Fukushima power plant crisis, which brought nuclear power’s potential instability to the world’s headlines.

The Hanford Site, a decommissioned nuclear complex in southeast Washington, has made headlines for years concerning. Just this February CNN reported that the old tanks have been leaking an alarming amount of radioactive waste, possibly for years.

The effects of this leakage for Washingtonians are still largely unknown.

This historical site began in the 1940’s as part of the Manhattan Project, a top-secret World War II project focused on nuclear bombs. The Cold War expanded the Hanford Site to the Columbia River for more nuclear research and development. The site was decommissioned, however, during the late 1960’s, and the site named a National Historical Landmark in 2008.

Hanford’s potential for disaster is still a major concern for Washington State. This leakage raises obvious anxiety for the environment, but the risks go beyond that. Many question the effect such concentrated radiation would have on those who manage nuclear waste, and others fear meltdowns or terrorist attacks on nuclear sites.

Since Seattle City Light’s 2011 energy report says that 2.5% of our city’s energy comes from nuclear sources, we should have an interest in the future of the Hanford Site and nuclear energy in general.

Share your opinion about nuclear energy: are you in favor, or against it?


Author: Sara Kenning

Sustainability Assistant at Seattle Pacific University's Office of Facility and Project Management

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