Episode 72: Dollop: The Hanford Site

I may earn money from the participating companies linked in this post: Bookshop.org (supporting my nearby independent bookstore Bluebird & Co, in Crozet, VA) and/or Audible. My podcast is sponsored by Audible and Care/Of.

At some point, America should really invade America.

Trinity_Test_Fireball_16msI am finding it difficult to be funny, because this photo, of the Trinity nuclear test at 16 miliseconds, actually took my breath away. Shake it off, shake it off. Deep breath. Okay, here goes.
Seriously, though, look at that fucking thing. On July 16, 1945, a group of extremely intelligent men unleashed that, and didn’t immediately pull the project’s pin, go home, have a stiff drink, have sex with their partners, love on their kids, and get a job in the private sector where nothing ever ever goes boom.
Is it testosterone? Seriously, I am asking, as a card-carrying ovary bearer. ‘Cause I don’t get it. –Carla
At the Trinity project, the “catcher’s mitt” created to catch the extra plutonium was named Jumbo…which is not at all comforting. Or cute. I think it was meant to be cute. sigh
They knew they were meddling with the very fabric of the universe, because the name of the project came from this John Donne poem:

Batter my heart, three person’d God; for, you
As yet but knocke, breathe, shine, and seeke to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow mee,’and bend
Your force, to breake, blowe, burn and make me new.

Free for download from archive.org:

The Hanford Site has not only sickened and killed, it has continued our fine American tradition of screwing with the people who were here first:

The confluence of the Yakima, Snake, and Columbia rivers has been a meeting place for native peoples for centuries. The archaeological record of Native American habitation of this area stretches back over ten thousand years. Tribes and nations including the Yakama, Nez Perce, and Umatilla used the area for hunting, fishing, and gathering plant foods. Hanford archaeologists have identified numerous Native American sites, including “pit house villages, open campsites, fishing sites, hunting/kill sites, game drive complexes, quarries, and spirit quest sites”, and two archaeological sites were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. Native American use of the area continued into the 20th century, even as the tribes were relocated to reservations. The Wanapum people were never forced onto a reservation, and they lived along the Columbia River in the Priest Rapids Valley until 1943. (wikipedia)

The transcontinential railroad made this all possible, hooking up this area in 1913. And away we go! Let’s dump that nasty shit we made when we went boom! in White Sands, and when we made Fat Man and Little Boy. There’s only brown people up here, and we have handled them before, right, boys?
banging head slowly on desk

The ceiling tiles are trying to kill you.
The ceiling tiles are trying to kill you.
Remember that horror movie I recommended, Session 9? Part of the horror stems from the state of the treatment of the mentally ill…and some from the mess left behind for future Americans to clean up…in the movie’s case, asbestos.
Yep. Like that, but glowing.
post-plutonium dumping
Be true to your school.
See, lookee: Hanford High School after Hanford became Ground Zero.
Post-plutonium production and dumping.
More movies (and one book) to scare you in one way or another:

and, to cleanse your palate after we’re all done: The Lion King (“It’s the CIRCLE of LIFE…”)
Oh, but we’re not quite done, chickies. Hold on tight for just a little longer.

Atomic Frontier Days, Hanford, Washington
Atomic Frontier Days, Hanford, Washington
What is wrong with people? What why what the actual fuck?! This looks like a parody from an early sitcom, but it’s an official government photograph of a real event and I can’t even.
Hanford_sheep_testing_2Oh, and they made the entire thing even worse, which is a considerable talent, by experimenting on animals: Experimental Animal Farm and Aquatic Biology Laboratory, on-site. This is also an official federal government photograph, and it is captioned “workers feeding radioactive food to sheep”. Why? Trying to make glow-in-the-dark wool for discerning knitters? You fuckwaffles.
Bah. I need a hug, and a cookie. Maybe a stiff drink. Anyone?
Band names from this episode:

  • Modern Problems
  • Invade America
  • Mandatory Therapy
  • Solid Waste
  • Underground Plume
  • Double Shell
  • Gunkcatchers
  • Downwinders


  1. Avatar for Kevin L. Jones Kevin L. Jones

    Hey Carla, this is awesome! Thanks so much for putting this together. I’m so glad you provided the videos too — aren’t they so nuts! The worst bit that I wish I got more into with the article I wrote was the overwhelming amount of deformed/handicapped children in Richland, which is nearby Hanford.. There were A LOT at Hanford High School when I went there in the ’90s and they were “kept busy” by collecting attendance and digging through trash for recyclables. It was horrible.
    I have way too many depressing stories about this shit…
    Anyway, a quick note — in the list of 2015 podcast episodes, this episode is listed as the “Hanover site.” Besides that, this is so awesome! So good to see someone put so much work into this site!

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