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June 17, 2014  

America’s Fukushima: The Largest Ecological Catastrophe in U.S. History 

Part 5: Ancestral Lands and A Way of Life Desecrated

Investigative reporter Paul DeRienzo files the fifth installment of a series on an ecological disaster caused by massive contamination from the Hanford Site, a sprawling nuclear-reactor complex on the Columbia River in south-central Washington state.

Today’s program focuses on the ecological impact of locating the site on the ancestral lands of the Yakama and Umatilla nations and the resulting desecration of their way of life, which continues to this day.

The still-partially-functioning Hanford Site, built in 1943, was where two-thirds of the nation’s plutonium was manufactured during World War II and the Cold War. It housed the world’s first plutonium-production reactor that produced much of the nation’s nuclear arsenal, including the nuclear bombs used against Japan. But the operation of its nine reactors, phased out between 1968 and 1987, has created the largest ecological disaster in the United States, dumping a steady stream of industrial and radioactive waste directly into the air, river and ground of the 586-square-mile reservation.

Guests are: Russell Jim of the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, and Armand Minthorn of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.

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