Join Us as We Celebrate Hanford’s 70th Anniversary!
Wahoo! A month-long 70th anniversary gala celebration in my hometown, Richland! Celebrating…the Manhattan Project.
Sounds like fun. Unless you’re a Downwinder.
The series of events was created by a partnership of WSU Tri-Cities and regional organizations currently housing Hanford oral histories. The stated mission statement of this partnership is to collect and safeguard oral histories for the benefit of future generations. This all seems well intended.
But the lighthearted titling of several events seems very careless.
Real People Were Harmed
There is no a mention of the people still alive and suffering from the impact of the events that will be celebrated as if from some long-distant past.
That past is not so very far away. I am here, as are hundreds of other people, many of whom are the children of Hanford’s early workers, who are now dealing with cancers and other disabilities from Hanford’s radiation releases
Most events require the registration of a “Hanford 70th Plutonium Passport.” The first event is a “For Your Eyes Only- a James Bond-themed Cold War Party” at the Richland Public Library. Every weekend, folks go on 70th Anniversary Bus Tours of B Reactor and T Plant, but only if pre-registered through purchase of the Plutonium Passport.
If you have your Hanford 70th “Plutonium” or “Lecture” passport, you will be treated to the opening reception lecture by Bill Blaire: “Fish, pigs, dogs and plutonium: Hanford biologists and the atomic bomb.” What about children and plutonium? We were there.
Bruce Hevly, author of “Atomic Frontier Days,” and Richard Rhodes, author of “The Making of the Atomic Bomb,” are scheduled to lecture during the month; I’m very glad both of these thoughtful writers are included.
I don’t mean to be a downer of a Downwinder, but I’m deeply troubled by our absence on this agenda. If the people organizing a month-long event dedicated to preserving the history of the region and the Manhattan Project don’t remember that thousands of US citizens were harmed by the radioactivity released in nuclear weapons production and testing within Manhattan Project sites, how can we expect to achieve justice and notice from the rest of the country?
Twenty three years after the fact, we are still enmeshed in court battles seeking recompense for our losses. I had my deposition as a “test case plaintiff” in the Hanford litigation just last week.
Hanford is not in the past, Hanford History Partnership. It is now, in doctor visits and lawsuits and constant health crises. It is our present. Where, in this month-long series of events, are those of us who lived in those government homes while all that plutonium was being produced? True, many of us are already dead. My parents are in that category, their lives cut painfully short by radiogenic cancers.
So, conference organizers, just say the word and I’m there to share my story as part of the agenda, and I’ll bring a few fellow health damaged Downwinders along. Hey, maybe I’ll even cough up the bucks for a plutonium passport.