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Orchards of Eden on the Hanford Reach

The view from the plane window winging west from Baltimore yesterday was magnificent—the snowy Rockies spread out below in all their majesty. I spotted up ahead the ribbon of the Columbia River winding south. I saw we were going to fly directly over the big bend of the Columbia, the Tri-Cities—Richland, Kennewick, and Pasco. And there below was the vast open prairie where the little riverside town of White Bluffs once stood, the place where my grandparents owned a five acre fruit farm, the place where my father was born in a tent-house in 1913. White Bluffs is gone. The orchard they tended is gone. So is the neighboring town of Hanford. All that is left of Hanford is the name: Hanford Nuclear Reservation. In this evil place the U.S. military enriched the plutonium used in the atomic bomb that incinerated Nagasaki.

I

 stared down from my plane window right into the middle of that flat, sagebrush prairie. All I could see were the empty ruins of the Hanford complex, the most radioactive site west of Chernobyl. Just a few days ago, a railroad tunnel collapsed crushing a string of tanker railroad cars filled with radioactive wastes. There was an instant panic that workers toiling there to clean up the worst Superfund toxic waste site in America might have been exposed. There are fears that the radioactive wastes might leech into the Columbia, exposing hundreds of thousands of people and other animal life downriver. The warmongers in our midst stand in the way of ridding humanity of this menace. They see nuclear missiles as a weapon of global domination. We need to move them out of our way! My family paid a price, not as steep as the innocent people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but steep enough, our fruit-laden Eden in the Hanford Reach.

Published inWhite Bluffs

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