Want to learn about Hanford?

Hanford is an interesting topic from both a scientific and human perspective, and cleanup activities underway will continue well into the future. 

Stories about Hanford history, combined with current environmental challenges, create engaging learning opportunities for citizens and students of all ages and interests.

Whether it be the Manhattan Project, protecting the Columbia River, or restoring tribal access to traditional fishing and hunting, we'll help you understand what Hanford means to you, the Pacific Northwest, and the nation.

Did you know?

The Southeast Washington Hanford nuclear waste site is dubbed "one of the most contaminated places on Earth." Here are a few facts about Hanford:

Elk graze near the original Hanford High School, one of only a few original buildings on the site.
  • Hanford is 580-square-miles and the Hanford Reach of the Columbia River borders the site for 52 miles on the north and east.
  • It was the primary plutonium production site for America's nuclear weapons program during World War II and throughout the Cold War.
  • Vast amounts of contamination left over from plutonium production continue to pollute the environment and challenge state and federal agencies charged with cleanup.
  • The ongoing cleanup effort costs U.S. taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars each year.
  • Significant progress has been made in cleaning up contaminated soil and groundwater.
  • The public must stay engaged to ensure a safe and complete cleanup.

It’s important that the public understands the complexities of the cleanup and why it matters. That's why we make the effort to explain and discuss these challenging issues by visiting your community group, professional association or classroom.

Check out some answers to our most frequently asked questions below.

Presentation Options

Fill out our online form to request a speaker, or contact us with questions.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we're offering virtual classroom visits covering standard Hanford history. Interactive and interdisciplinary opportunities are also available.

We share the history and science, and discuss possible future careers at Hanford.

Presentation materials are aligned with Next Generation Science and Washington State Learning Standards.

Hanford provides an ideal subject for social studies, civics, science, and English/language arts classes. 

Today's students will inherit Hanford. Educate them about future issues and potential career opportunities.

We offer short presentations, available through whatever online platform you use, offering a 45-minute presentation with Q&A, and discussion about Hanford careers. We can assist in designing class projects focused on cleanup communications. 

Our chemists, engineers, or geologists can provide in-depth technical information.

Or, let us provide a general presentation about Hanford for your organization or the entire campus community.

We love to visit community groups in the Northwest region, and can attend via any online platform.

Our presentations run anywhere from 20-45 minutes and are tailored to any community group or professional organization, from Rotary Clubs to the American Chemical Society.

How can you get involved?

You can get involved — submit an online comment, attend public meetings, and join our email lists to keep up-to-date on news about Hanford.

Your involvement is encouraged, and the law requires that an opportunity for public participation be offered on major decisions. The state and federal agencies involved with the Hanford site hold public comment periods and hearings where all comments from the public are welcome.

Comments are recorded, considered by the cleanup agencies, and responded to in writing. Documents open for public comment are available at the Hanford Information Repositories.

Submit an online comment.

We offer two email lists to keep you informed about nuclear waste cleanup:

  • Hanford email list - Receive focus sheets, meeting notices, and comment period announcements about Hanford.
  • Commercial mixed radioactive waste email list (or the radioactive waste facility regulation list) - Learn when we have comment periods and public meetings about chemically hazardous and radioactive waste facilities.
Ecology, Energy, and EPA have an online calendar to help you keep track of scheduled meetings, public comment opportunities, and events related to cleanup efforts at Hanford.

How are we doing with public involvement?

The Tri-Party Agreement Agencies conduct an annual survey to see what the public thinks about engagement opportunities. See how we did in 2023. We will be conducting 2024's survey early next year. 

Let's Talk About Hanford

In 2021 we began a live virtual series called Let's Talk About Hanford, with a goal of helping those interested in Hanford better understand all things related to the site and its complex nuclear cleanup.

These conversations blend high-level easy-to-understand presentations and conversations with attendees about Hanford topics, ranging from specific cleanup projects and history of the site to the Hanford Reach habitat and wildlife that call it home.

We gear these virtual discussions toward those unfamiliar with Hanford, those who want a refresher, or to expand existing knowledge about Hanford. We start each event with a short high-level presentation on that day's topic, followed by a live Q&A with those watching.

Our most recent event, held March 27, was themed "Manhattan Project National Historic Park." For this talk we had guest speaker, Becky Burghart, Site Manager for the park. 

Watch the recording of that conversation on our YouTube channel or on our Facebook page.