Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Columbia Critters Spark Hanford Cleanup Conversations

By Ginger Wireman, Community Outreach & Environmental Education Specialist, Nuclear Waste Program

Late August is fair time in Benton and Franklin Counties. Our fair serves a population of about 300,000 from the Tri-Cities and outlying communities. Many more travel in to compete in the rodeo, perform on a stage, or sell their wares.

That makes it a great opportunity for Ecology’s Nuclear Waste Program
to reach out to new audiences with information about Hanford cleanup.

This year and last, we focused our booth on protecting the Columbia RiverWe featured a tank with crayfish and aquatic insects from the river (pictured right with Ecology employee Madeleine Brown) and brought information about how Hanford contamination has reached groundwater and how that water reaches the river. We share research findings that show—despite contributions from Hanford—the river is still safe for ‘all uses’ and meets Class A water body standards.

We partnered with the Department of Health’s Radiation Protection Division to staff the booth. They brought a fully functional 1950’s Geiger counter in mint condition to raffle! Entry was free, but participants were encouraged to sign up for the Hanford cleanup mailing list . We added 34 new people to the list, and a West Richland resident has a new antique toy!

We also asked fairgoers to identify which Hanford issues are most important to them. The top three responses were:
  • Finding a long-term storage solution for high-level nuclear waste now that progress on the Yucca Mountain Project has halted

  • Protecting the Columbia River from Hanford contaminants

  • Ensuring that future generations are protected and informed about the site’s history and pollution.
If you have questions or concerns about Hanford cleanup, please share them by commenting on this post

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