Until the Japanese catastrophe of last weekend, the biggest nuclear mess in the Western world could be found at the Hanford nuclear facility in Washington state, where America’s government once made most of the plutonium for its nuclear weapons. More than two decades after the clean-up began, officials have yet to deal with any of the nasty stuff.

At the Hanford site, which sprawls across a sagebrush plain in the south-east of the state, none of the 53m gallons (200m litres) of highly toxic waste stored in 177 ageing and leaky underground tanks has been mopped up, even though the last reactor was shut down in 1987.

“Nuclear Waste: From Bombs to $800 Handbags”

Posted on Tuesday, March 22nd, at 3:00 PM (∞).

Inspired by Matt Thomas’s New York Times Digest.

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