Nuclear Plant Tour

Well, it’s not for everyone, but if you are a Cold War buff, or fascinated by the nuclear arms race, Richland, Washington has a place for you.

The Hanford Nuclear Site was built in 1944 to help provide plutonium to the Manhattan Project. For the next 45 years, the site’s nine reactors pumped out enough plutonium to turn our planet into a raging sun. In the process, the site, according to Wired Magazine, produced “53 million gallons of radioactive liquid and sludge, 25 million cubic feet of solid radioactive waste, and 270 billion gallons of contaminated groundwater.” Yikes!

Fortunately, the site is no longer active. Cleaning it up, however, is an ongoing process and will take the next couple of hundred years to completely scour clean.

In the meantime, since taxes paid for this whole mess, the site occasionally opens up for public tours. David Wolman, writing for Wired Magazine, recently joined such a tour. His write-up is brief, but enticing. And was apparently, radioactive free!

If you have any interest in spending four hours wandering around this glowing piece of atomic history, Hanford is offering six free tours on June 13 and 14. But be sure to act quickly. Reservations go live May 16th, 2007 at 12:00 noon and will undoubtedly sell out very quickly.