Early this Morning, during a bout of insomnia, your author, dear ardent reader, engaged in yet another one of his marathon Simpson's watching marathons.
~~~For some reason, that now eludes my recollection, an occurrence in the cartoon caused me to embark on a research into Hanford Reach Nuclear Reservation, and its history, in my home State of Washington.
Long considered an enclave of progressive-ness, and environmental preoccupations, I was absolutely horrified to learn of the ecological, environmental, and sociological disaster that has been occuring for decades, and continues on, seemingly unabated as we speak in my Home State and in the Region of Cascadia ~~~
A little bit o' History:
Work on building Hanford Nuclear Reservation was begun @ an astoundingly break neck ipace n 1942 under the auspices of "The Manhattan Project." A project of seemingly inconceivable enormity conceived by the United States Military Industrial Complex as a means of producing the atom bomb before Hitler and The Japanese Empire.
The Production of the atom bomb was first proposed to President Franklin Roosevelt through a letter composed by a group of scientists which included Albert Einstein.
The letter, much of it written by European Expatriates, some of whom had previously worked for The Nazi War machine, warned that the Germans were likely close to building the Atom Bomb, and it was of extreme importance that The U.S. be the first to complete the bomb, for whoever had the bomb first would undoubtedly be the Victor of WWII.
WWII, at that time, seemingly had no end in sight, things looked dire and grim, and The Atom Bomb would bring a quick end to this atrocious World War.
President Franklin authorized the creation of the Manhattan Project, which was to build enormous installations throughout the country, mostly in extremely remote places, whose primary purpose was one thing:
To design and build a nuclear weapon.
The primary purpose of The Hanford Nuclear Reservation, @ that time, believe it or not was surprisingly specialized.
Hanford would refine Uranium Ore, and ultimately produce Plutonium, which would then be moved to The Los Alamos Branch of The Manhattan Project to be utilized by Physicists Robert Oppenheimer and his associates in the production of the actual bomb and in a life test.
Hanford Reach was composed of some nearly 600 square miles of territory put aside for this purpose, on a remote and desert terrain in the central part of Washington State.
The area occupied by Hanford was roughly half of the size of the state of Rhode Island
The Nuclear Fuel that was created at Hanford was used in the First Atom Bomb Test at the Trinity Site in New Mexico. The Successful Test of the "Fat Boy" Atom Bomb.
The fuel from Hanford was also used in the "Little Boy" and "Fat Man" bombs that were dropped on The Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by our Ancestors,,,
And which resulted in The surrender of The Japanese Emperor.
The Germans surrendered on May 8th, 1945 --2 months before The Test of the First Atomic Bomb, and 3 months before We, The People, dropped bombs on Japan
A few years ago, on one of my many perambulations through the American West, I drove around the outskirts of the present day Hanford Reservation, and was impressed by its vast size, but even more so, that from the highways that circumnavigate the reservation, nearly none of the buildings or infrastructure is visible.
Imagine my great surprise, that in the 194o's Hanford was composed of some nearly 300 buildings, of varying sizes, including half a dozen enormous nuclear reactors, refineries, and all the associate infrastructure necessary to the refining of uranium and plutonium, and research into a vast and seemingly endless array of aspects concerning Nuclear Energy.
In the end, some 177 enormous tanks, each capable of containing thousands upon thousands of gallons of high-level liquid radioactive waste, were constructed throughout the installation, and its various incarnations.
And these tanks only contained a certain type of liquid radioactive waste, they did not contain the solid waste which has been stored in open trenches, or in chemical dumps, and the myriad of ponds open both to the air, and to the ground beneath them, and which contain spent nuclear fuel, or toxic waste that is radioactive, and also non-radioactive waste.
An environmental Crisis of Horrifying Proportions:
The sheer volume of Toxic and Radioactive Waste that was produced at Hanford during its decades of operation scrambles the mind, it is beyond conceivability.
Even more horrifying, is the staggering amount of indifference and carelessness that was exemplified by our ancestors at hanford from its earliest days.
From its earliest operation, radioactive waste was released on a daily basis directly into the The Columbia River, which has polluted The Columbia from Hanford all the The Pacific Ocean from the 194o's.
It can perhaps be argued that our Ancestors did not understand the true nature of the waste that they were producing, or of proper ways to contain it.
This is simply not true, The personages who designed and built Hanford understood the dangers of Radioactive waste far before The Manhattan Project was even conceived of.
It is true that the threat of Nazi Germany wielding a nuclear weapon before any other sovereign nation would have perhaps resulted in a future too horrific to imagine, or perhaps a lack of any future for the human race whatsoever, let alone the cause of Life, Liberty, and The Pursuit of happiness for the greatest number for the greatest good.
So, perhaps Hanford can be excused of its hastiness, and lack of proper containment protocol due to the dire nature of the fate of the free world that hung in the balance.
And afterall, containment measures and safety precautions were enacted, even from the beginning.
Unfortunately, these containment measures were extremely limp wristed, shoddy, and lacked-even-the-most-remote-indication-of-foresight.
Hanford knew that they were creating an ecological disaster the consequences of which would be reaped into the indeterminable future from the very beginning, and would posit a crushing burden upon their children, their grandchildren, and their grandchildren's children. Yet they allowed the enormity of the perils of WWII and the Cold War to justify their indifference and carelessness, or even worse ----
They. Simply. Didn't. Care.
The. Tanks. Are. Leaking.
The high level liquid radioactive waste tanks, all 177 of them, that were huddled together in what were called, "Tank Farms," have been leaking since shortly after they were constructed.
And now they are leaking at several thousand gallons a year.
They were constructed with single walls that simply were not capable of containing corrosive radioactive waste for any long period of time.
Though many of the single wall tanks have had their waste transferred into new double walled tanks, this still is only a temporary solution.
~~~And what of the waste that has been slowly been seaping down to the Water table over the decades, and perhaps has already reached the water table??
Thousands upon thousands of gallons of atrociously toxic waste has been carelessly dumped into the ground and rivers over the entire life of Hanford, as well as leaking into the ground and water supply, without being abated.
Many of the methods of abatement have simply failed, or won't stand the test of time and the elements.
And seemingly, the failure of the abatement methods used, is not for a lack of trying.
The greatest minds and talents are still working together to conceive of a solution to a problem that makes the Meltdown of Cherynobyl, and its subsequent cleanup look like spilled milk in a Kindergarten Classroom.
Oftentimes, I avoid discussions such as these, which more or less often turn into political rants which seemingly go nowhere...bridges in conversation that lead to nowhere...
Like so many so called "discussions" such as "Mac -or- Pc?" , "Is Photography an art?" , "Which is better: digital or analog?"
I. am. a. person. who. is. interested. in. solutions.
Atlas Design Co. and Roxbury Live-Work-Research Community are interested in solutions.
That is the vision.
To say that I am no expert in Nuclear Physics or Nuclear Waste containment is a vast understatement of an understatement.
1) When one is soldering electronics, it sometimes becomes necessary to de-solder; for this purpose a "solder-wick" is used. Which is essentially a small braided cord composed of many little wires, that soaks up solder into itself.
Could a process akin to this, on a macrocosmic scale be used to "soak up" or to siphon the radioactive waste that has already leached into the ground below Hanford.
Perhaps, a deep deep well could be dug, into ground zero of the contamination, and some sort of wick or tube could be plunged down into there and absorb the waste which could then be transferred into long term containment infrastructure.
2) A process has been developed @ hanford to embed plutonium based waste into silica (glass) when it is molten, when the glass is solidified, in theory that waste can then be contained.
Could some sort of non-toxic material be pumped into the ground that would mix and diffuse with the waste, turning it into a solid, and prevent mixing with The aquifier which lies below Hanford, providing water for thousands of acres of farmland, and countless people.
4)As I walked through the grandview golf course, a white hair yelled out to me as he walked by holder a putter and dragging his golf cart in tow, he pointed and said, "Just Look at that Tree!" -
I turned about and noticed a large maple tree with deep crimson leaves which were incandescent in the setting sun and fluttered about in a gentle breeze coming in from Drayton Harbor.
I recalled the characteristics of certain plants, and microscopic creatures to absorb and sometimes even digest toxic and radioactive waste.
Perhaps this waste could be wicked up by the vegetable or fungi kingdom, and perhaps even broken down/ decomposed / distilled into something less dangerous, and either put into a containment system, or ran through the process each time breaking down the waste further and further in these re-iterations.
~~~and most especially, in the sort of engineering schemes that go into containment systems ---
I am caused to think of the Long Now Foundation, the brain child of super-genius computer scientist Danny Hillis and the constructive of a clock to run for 1o,ooo years.
This sort of thinking, That is the Long Now, ought to be applied to the puzzle of Nuclear and Toxic waste clean up and containment,,,
Nature is Forever Seeking Equilibrium, For Every uphilll a down, for every downhill an Up. The Planet Earth Will surive the human race, this is of no question. The Question is : Will The Human Race Survive itself?
This is no easy question, which by means has no easy answer.
I just hope that this solution will be teased out of somewhere's, perhaps nature herself (as many solutions often emerge from our greatest teacher),,,
before it is far too late, and Much of Washington and Oregon State become completely inhabitable to all forms of current life.
Thank you for your Time and Consideration,
Your Humble Servant,
Kody J. Bosch
Atlas Design Co.
Roxbury Live-Work-Research Community