Mar 082013
 

Most of you know that I live in Portland, which is located at the confluence of the Columbia and Willamette Rivers.  Up the river from me is one of the most critical environmental threats in the US, one that could devastate millions of people.  It appears that the Republican sequester may increase that risk significantly.

8HanfordHere in the place where plutonium production for the nation’s bomb arsenal was elevated to industrial scale, in the rolling scrub country of south-central Washington, dangerous industrial pollutants are still getting into the soil only a few miles from the Columbia River.

Gov. Inslee said he was disturbed that the possibility of automatic federal budget cuts came to light just as it was confirmed that radioactive waste was leaking from tanks at Hanford.

For the nation’s largest environmental cleanup project, a legacy of World War II and the cold war, the announcement last month of six newly confirmed leaking tanks of radioactive waste was added evidence that even after decades of work and billions of dollars in taxpayer sacrifice, the Hanford Nuclear Reservation’s risks remain unresolved.

But as Washington’s new governor, Jay Inslee, swept onto the site on Wednesday for a hard-hat tour and a briefing, and federal officials warned of layoffs from budget cuts rippling through the federal Department of Energy, the reminder was equally clear, state and federal officials said, that government has always been the real defining force at this place…

…“I’m very disturbed that at the very month that we have six new leaking tanks of radioactive material, the sequestration hits, which could result in the furlough of several thousand people,” said Mr. Inslee, a Democrat and a former congressman.

The federal Department of Energy said this week that up to 4,800 workers out of Hanford’s 9,000-person work force, mostly employed by private contractors, could be hit with furloughs or layoffs starting April 1… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <NY Times>

8Hanford_Columbia

Republicans are seeking to insulate the Defense Department from the random nature of the sequester cuts, and I have no problem with that.  However they want to limit it to defense.  If we are going to allow directed defense cuts, we most also allow directed domestic cuts so that we can cut things like corporate subsidies and leave in place those programs that we need most, like care for the poor and environmental disasters.

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  11 Responses to “Just up the River from Me”

  1. It's an awful feeling to be living near such beautiful land and water and to always worry that it will be destroyed by the greedy bastards. I feel that way about possible fracking in my backyard.

    We don't need the Pipeline or Fracking! We need clean energy!

  2. The sequester could be ended immediately with votes from both parties.  It appears that Congress is out to destroy the country.  Mountain top removal here is destroying the land, water, and air.  Our state government uses a slogan, "we support coal" .  Never mind the fact that the coal companies are destroying a large part of the state.

    • I am old enough to have seen the damage done to land in Northern ill , esp around Grundy Counry– by Strip Mining–This mountain top removal is the same thing—Strip mining took tousands of fertile farm land out of production , for ever– ithas taken well over 100 years for the land so damaged to recover from the barren ugliness , but it will never be crop land again—

      We have a history- we – They know what it does— but Greed always always  wins—

    • Sadly, upi are both right too.

  3. Hanford is a colossal SNAFU and FUBAR!  This has always been a concern of mine since I first found out about it.  It seems governments, those charged with making the decisions about the fruits of our labours, have not learned the lessons of the past such as Love Canal and Three Mile Island.  And of course there are others in other countries — Chernobyl comes to mind.

    EPA Journal January 1979 Love Canal, NY — a toxic chemical soup that percolated and exploded http://www.epa.gov/history/topics/lovecanal/01.html

    Three Mile Island, March 1979 a partial nuclear meltdown affecting the lives of so many  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Mile_Island_accident

    We think we are so damn smart, but we are infantile.  We make decisions that have such consequences for years and years to come.  This rather reminds me of "Logan's Run", a movie premised on the idea of some cataclysmic event that sent people to build a society underground because the environment had been destroyed.  Hundreds of years later, some get out of the underground to find that the earth has repaired itself.  Is that what it will take in reality for the earth to recover?

     

  4. Oh My Hat!!!  Oh TC – so many people affected by this!  I am so horrified I don't know what to say apart from the fact that this is appalling and should have everyone affected and all their friends and relatives LIVID with anger!