America’s Fukushima: The Largest Ecological Catastrophe in U.S. History
On April 17, Leid Stories introduced investigative reporter, broadcaster, activist and teacher Paul DeRienzo, who discussed a special assignment he was about to undertake—a deep look at an ecological disaster caused by massive contamination from a sprawling nuclear-reactor complex, called the Hanford Site, on the Columbia River in south-central Washington state.
It was there that two-thirds of the nation’s plutonium was manufactured during World War II and the Cold War. “During those 40-plus years,” DeRienzo says, “a steady stream of industrial and radioactive waste created by the production of the element was dumped directly into the air, river and ground of the 586-square-mile reservation. Now, the United States is faced with the largest cleanup in history, and little hope that it will totally succeed.”
DeRienzo, working under a Polk Awards journalism grant, presents exclusively for Leid Stories the first of three comprehensive reports based on his investigation: “The Hanford Site: America’s Fukushima.”