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The Heart of Darkness: A Shrine to Hanford

Hanford produced the plutonium for Hiroshima and Nagasaki
and concentratred most of the plutonium for the US missile warheads.
Pictures form Scientific American May 96

REPROCESSING CANYON was where irradiated nuclear fuel was dissolved in nitric acid and chemically treated in successive 'process cells" to extract its minute quantities of plutonium. The rectangular plates in the floor are the cover blocks for the cells. All the work was done by remotely operated cranes and other machinery to shield workers from lethal levels of radioactivity.

PLUTONIUM "BUTTON" was Hanford's sole product. Consisting mainly of the isotope pluto- nium 239, the buttons were sent to be machined into bomb parts in Colorado. The metal must be handled in glove boxes, such as the one shown here, because extremely minute quantities of the metal in the lung can induce cancer. Currently the DOE has no long-term plans for its plutonium.

CERENKOV RADIATION from capsules of waste cesium and strontium is so intense that its interaction with water creates a glow bright enough to be seen with the naked eye. Radiation at the surface of the canisters is high enough to deliver a fatal dose in four seconds; the water in the pool shields the room above from the deadly emanations. Cerenkov radiation is caused when particles entering a refractive medium find themselves travelling faster than the speed of light. The photons released represent the shock waves.