Thirty-three years after the passage of CERCLA, some of the country’s most hazardous sites remain toxic. Until the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the biggest nuclear waste hazard in the Western world was located in southeast Washington—the Hanford nuclear facility, a 586-square-mile site constructed as part of the Manhattan project to produce weapons-grade plutonium in nine nuclear reactors along the banks of the Columbia River. The highly toxic waste is currently stored in underground tanks, where it will continue to wait until at least 2019 when it is projected that a specialized wastetreatment plant will commence transforming the waste into still-radioactive glass logs that will be more suitable for long-term storage.61 [For maps and some aerial pictures of Hanford, explore the site beginning at its home page, http://yosemite.epa.gov/r10/ cleanup.nsf/sites/hanford] What do you know about the pollution in your community? Find out by logging onto www.scorecard.org and inserting your zip code. Then visit the EPA’s site and discover any Superfund sites near you on its maps at www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/npl/where.htm
1. Are there any Superfund sites in or near your community?
2. How does your home town rate with regard to the industrial release of toxic chemicals?
3. How does your air quality stack up with other communities in the United States?
4. How clean are your rivers and lakes?