Travels With Connie #63 The Hanford Reach

in travel •  last year 

Sometimes I know exactly where I am going. In that case it’s easy, pick a route and go.

More often I have an idea where I’d like to end up, and generally speaking a direction to go.

Once in a while I just follow the front wheel and see where it takes me.

Reach3.JPG

The Hanford Reach. Has a nice sound to it, being the last free flowing stretch of the Columbia River. 51 miles of free flowing river that makes a bend around one of our newest National Monuments, the Hanford Reach National Monument.

ReachIsland.JPG

The monument includes the old Plutonium Production Reactors. You see, the Hanford Project is where the US made the Plutonium for the first atomic bombs and production at the site continued until the end of the cold war and the signing of the Nuclear Reduction Agreements with Russia.

ReachReactors3.JPG

This photo, looking out across the Reach shows the last two electrical producing reactors on the site. Only one of them is active and a reminder of an incredible boondoggle from the 70s and 80s. The state and federal government decided it would be a good idea to build Nuclear Power Plants at the site. 5 of them were designed and mostly funded by bonds issued by the State of Washington and backed by all but one of the utilities in the state and some in Oregon. They ran horribly over budget and only these two were ever completed. Most of the residents of the state paid artifically high power bills for 30 years to settle out much of the debt.

Reachisland2.JPG

It's such a bucolic looking place, on this part of the reach it's almost hard to believe that the nastiest superfund site in the nation is there. There are litterally tens of millions of gallons of sludge and liquid waste from Plutonium production that are leaching toward the river. What a catastrophe that would be.

ReachRoad.JPG

There is a huge soft fruit orchard here on the civilian side to the river and many more up on the ridge above the river.

It's a really special place for me, the Hanford Reach. Literally millions of Chinook Salmon spawn here every year. I've seen the millions of geese on the river during the height of hunting season (it is a no shooting zone). It is just loaded with wild life-deer, elk, coyotes and every bird of prey that inhabits the region. It is the very last bit of the wild Columbia. It was just plain good to go back this summer.

Thanks for coming along for the ride.

All words and photographs in this post are mine. For better or worse

You want some real motorcycle travel? Check out Velimir. That’s some kind of motorcycle writing.

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Simply amazing that the government can take such a beautiful area and turn it into a disaster such as they have done, it is beyond comprehension.
I don't know that I would want to eat any of the fruit coming from those trees, but chances are it ends up in the grocery stores and we never know where it comes from.
Thanks for allowing us to hitch a ride on this trip.

I have some good news. It's got to be one of the most closely monitored areas in the world, now. Hanford was a small town (less than 1000) that the Government simply relocated when they confiscated the whole area for the project. It was, in it's way, vital to the prosecution of WWII and the balance with Russia throughout the Cold War. In the days when all surveillance was 'boots on the ground' it was incredibly remote and easy to control. After they removed the residents there was simply no reason for anybody to go there. Sort of like Area 51. I'll bet there are some toxic spots there, too,

I have been studying a lot about the wars recently the more I am learning about those the ill I get with our government, at some point I will do a daily dose on those, there was a whole lot left out of the history books I learned from.
It sure seems like a remote area, but still a waste of beautiful land in my opinion.

Such a beautiful area, especially at this time of year when it is so green

It's just what I think of first when I hear 'Columbia River'. Much of it is just as it was 15,000 years ago after the ice sheet retreated.

  ·  last year (edited)

@bigtom13 Thre not to many places that havent changed much over the last 100 years let alone longer

You have made an exciting post

Bravo

Nice place! Meanders, in a low gradient river.
Good trip!

It really does meander around. It includes a huge bend in the river and smaller meanders. It's what the river was before dams,

Sounds like you'll be able to glow in the dark after this trip! I live down the river a ways so I sure hope the sludge never makes to the water.

I really hope I don't glow in the dark :) There are a couple annual tours of the area, now. My brother has taken one and said it's pretty amazing. The really big problem with the sludge is that it's so hot and toxic that it has to be handled really carefully. They have it monitored REALLY well, now.

Wow! How can we as humans even dare to create something so dangerous in a place so beautiful and full of natural life?!! I breaks my heart to think of the disasters waiting to happen. Thank you Big T for the post

I know! But in all honesty, nobody at any level knew what they were starting. It was just simply brand new (to the point of correcting problems on the fly). I'm so sad that it happened but at some level I also understand. We humans are a complex lot.

Very true, we strive for more knowledge as humans and sometimes we get it wrong. Sometimes catastrophically.

It looks like you had a really nice ride. Nature that you saw looks amazing and so peaceful even though the liquid waste sounds dangerous. I hope it does not destroy it.

It's an ongoing fight. The project is leading the way toward vitrification (encasing waste in glass) but the pace of research necessary is just glacial. They do have a couple of 'ready' tanks for temporary storage but the handling process is very slow. And a few of those tanks hold one million gallons of the junk. The scope is staggering. They hope to be able to start vitrification of 'low level' waste in 2020. High Level is now projected at 2030 and that is optimistic.

Aaaccckkk. Your are correct. It is so beautiful, I am very thankful that I have gotten to enjoy it in my life.

It sounds lovely, but not sure I'd eat that salmon or those fruit, is it safe? I guess it just sounds scary.

It also sounds like you are having a fun adventure and that is always good.

So far, the toxicity levels on the river itself are good. There is some silt behind a couple of the downstream dams that is elevated, but the river flows a lot of water so it tends to keep it very dispersed.

I've eaten more than a few fish from the reach, or that have passed through. I'd have eaten peaches from that orchard had they been ready when I was there.

It has been fun. This place is almost mystical to me. I can't even really explain it. It just is. I'm really glad I took some time there this trip. Next time I will go to the other end of the reach...

To be honest I've never heard of this place before but I'm happy that I got the chance to discover it through your post. Awesome trip!

I'm glad you got to find the Reach through my post. That does me great honor!

Beautiful landscape photography @bigtom13 sir.@adsactly sir is a great person of steemit. I appreciate your traveling. thanks for sharing this..sir, your Post @upvote and @resteemit done..

This person is a known plagiarist who will steal content and money without even a hint of conscience. Please be aware of him and his behavior.

Ok sir..

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