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Entries in atomic bomb (2)


Nuclear Waste 



The New York Times ran a piece on the toxic cleanup at Los Alamos, New Mexico garbage site. It's costing a cool $212 million. Los Alamos was part of the Manhattan-Project in 1945 where they tested the Trinity atomic bomb.  Read more...

The article is linked to the Hanford, Washington nuclear site where the Department of Energy is working on a glassification project to store radioactive waste. It will cost $1.9 billion. It will take forever. Environmentalists say that Hanford may be the most polluted nuclear site in the country. 

I lived in Richland, Washington for a year paying the bills as a tennis professional at a club and writing. An engineer friend worked at Hanford. In June 2001, when the reactor was down for maintenance we went there on a tour. Surreal, educational and scary.

I wore a dose-o-meter badge to register the levels of radiation as we moved through various levels at the site. As I remember there were at least six deep levels underground; labs, control rooms, offices, machines, lower halls with 55-gallon drums destined to be placed in huge earth excavation pits, the core reactor area and a room with giant turbines. I stepped outside to see the giant electricity grid feeding the Seattle area.

Here is a brief excerpt from my novel, A Century is Nothing and images I took on the tour. 

...My team dived into, under and through massive Columbia waterfalls near tributaries where the confluence of Northwest rivers gnashed their teeth, snaked, roaring past abandoned Hanford nuclear plants where 55 million gallons of radioactive waste in decaying drums left over from W.W.II slowly seeped 130 feet down into the ground toward water tables. 

Tribal survivors ate roots and plants garnished with entropy. 


He turned another fragile yellow page marked Top Secret Evidence.

“It’s called Technicium, TC-99,” said an Indian scientist on a shuttle between reactors. “This is the new death and we know it’s there and there is nothing we can do to prevent it spreading.” 

“The waste approached 250 feet as multinational laboratories, corporations and D.O.E. think tanks vying for projects and energy contract extensions discussed glassification options and emergency evacuation procedures according to regulations. Scientists read Robert’s Rules Of Order inside the organized chaos of their well order communities. 

“Hanford scientists, wives and their children suffering terminal thyroid disease ate roots and plants sprinkled with entropy.    

“The postal worker and the nomad talked over a counter while a frantic mother yelled at her daughter, “DON’T touch the stamps,” because at her precocious age curiosity about colors blended itself toward planetary exploration developing her active imagination. 

“Holding a nebula in his hand he told the woman how, up in the invisible sky, are all these really cool galaxies which means we are a third the life of a 3.5 billion year old universe and she said, ‘That’s interesting. I never looked at the stamps before,’ handing him change.” 

He returned Omar’s papers to the folder and traveled beyond the forest on comet star tails.

J. Robert Oppenheimer, after seeing the atomic test said, "I am become death, the destroyer of worlds."

I suggest you see Hanford Watch for additional information and images.


Fast Flux Reactor, Hanford, Washington.

The control room at Hanford.

Cooling rods being removed from reactor.


Hanford Realities

The NYT just published a piece on the Hanford "B" reactor.  It is linked below the radioactive image.

This was where scientists and Richland residents worked "at the labs." Only after the U.S. dropped the bomb on Japan did they discover the truth about their work.

I lived there from 1989-1991. It was a strange "Twilight Zone" city. It's reassuring to know after eighteen years the Department of Energy is finally making plans to deal with the toxic waste. 

An engineer friend took me on a tour of a reactor one quiet Sunday when it was down for maintenance. They were replacing the cooling rods. I was able to make images and they are posted here in the Image section.

I also collected a great deal of information about the 55 million barrels of spent uranium fuel; the long term "glassification" project with the Department of Energy and related environmental facts. Images were also published by Hanford Watch, an environmental group in Portland. 

My book, A Century Is Nothing, contains extensive reference to the Hanford environmental catastrophe.



No More Bomb-Making, but Work Aplenty