Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Monday, July 14, 2008

Unlike BHO, I Have Heard of Hanford

Cartoon from Politicker WA

On Saturday, after leaving Yakima on SR 24, we eventually crested a ridge, and there below us was the Hanford Reach and Atomic Town USA. Pretty spectacular. We could see Reactor B in the distance where the plutonium for the first atomic bombs was manufactured, as well as the other reactors.

The government definitely chose a desolate location for the reactors. I thought Vantage was the high desert, but seeing Hanford, it seemed for a moment that we were back in Arizona. There was even a highway sign that warned of "Drifting Sand." Viewing the only undammed stretch of the Columbia in the U.S. was also pretty interesting.

I thought about going inside to get some answers to Michael's yellow cake uranium bomb question, but the armed guards at the gate deterred me.


Satanic Mechanic said...

You can take the public tour. Here is the list of dates from the Hanford website:
July 30-31 (cut off date for changes/cancellations: 6:00 a.m., July 28)
Aug. 20-21 (cut off date for changes/cancellations: 6:00 a.m., Aug. 18)
Aug. 27-28 (cut off date for changes/cancellations: 6:00 a.m., Aug. 25)
Sept. 2-3 (cut off date for changes/cancellations: 6:00 a.m., Aug. 28)
Sept. 24-25 (cut off date for changes/cancellations: 6:00 a.m., Sept. 22)
Registration is here: http://www5.hanford.gov/publictours/

Tom Forbes said...

Only if I can carry a Geiger counter!

Barenjager said...

Don't be such a big wuss, Tom. A little ionizing radiation is good for you every now and then.

I (heart) atomic energy!

Michael said...

I had an interesting experience about a month ago. I was was on my way to Yakima to collect samples for a research project I'm working on and one of the students accompanying me was from Japan. When we crested the hill and could see the reactor other structures, I told her about the site's role in the bombing of Nagasaki. She was very moved and stared toward the buildings for as long as they were visible.
That was quite a different reaction than the one I experienced in August of 1995. I happened to be in West Point, New York on the 50th anniversary of the Nagasaki bombing. In the basement floor of the West Point military museum is the case for the third bomb, a fat boy that was thankfully never needed. A large group of Japanese tourists were down their taking turns having their photograph taken with the bomb. Every one of them had a big grin.