Location: Hanford, Washington
The Official Story: Covering 586 square miles, the Hanford site produced plutonium for nuclear weapons from 1944 to 1990. Three formal alerts have occurred in the last 13 years involving chemical explosions.
The Terrible Truth: During the December 1949 Green Run test, a massive cloud of radioactive iodine was released into the atmosphere simply to test recently installed radiological monitoring equipment. Passing over Spokane and reaching as far as the California-Oregon border, the cloud irradiated thousands of unsuspecting people. The current estimate to clean up the site’s waste is 52 billion dollars.
Fun With Atoms: The nearby Richland High School ‘Bombers’ have a mushroom cloud logo on their football helmets.
Quote: “Environmentally, [the Hanford site] is really interesting because there’s all these plants and animals that don’t exist anywhere else.” – Teri Hain, author of Atomic Farmgirl: Growing up right in the wrong place