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A new study shows health disparities cost Texas billions of dollars; Senate rejects impeachment articles against Mayorkas, ending trial against Cabinet secretary; Iowa cuts historical rural school groups.

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The Senate dismisses the Mayorkas impeachment. Maryland Lawmakers fail to increase voting access. Texas Democrats call for better Black maternal health. And polling confirms strong support for access to reproductive care, including abortion.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

WA communities unite to keep Hanford nuclear site cleanup on track

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Wednesday, December 20, 2023   

"We all live downriver from Hanford," is the message painted on the windows of the Patagonia store in Seattle's Belltown neighborhood. It is a reminder of the continuing danger created by the remaining toxic nuclear waste at the Hanford Site in Benton County.

Advocates with the nonprofit Hanford Challenge painted the mural to remind people everyone will suffer if the waste seeps into the groundwater and into the Columbia River.

Nikolas Peterson, executive director of the Hanford Challenge, tracks the cleanup efforts.

"We are holding the federal government -- the contractors doing this work -- accountable," Peterson explained. "To make sure that they don't walk away from this cleanup and leave a mess that future generations will have to deal with."

During World War II, U.S. government nuclear scientists at Hanford created the plutonium used in atomic bombs, contaminating the soil and leaving behind 56 million gallons of high-level toxic waste. The current plan is to transform much of the waste into a glasslike material, put it in steel tanks and bury it underground.

The Yakama Nation's Environmental Restoration/Waste Management program has teamed up with the nonprofit Columbia Riverkeeper to teach future generations about the ongoing cleanup and offer field trips to the site.

Peterson noted his organization is working to get Hanford into the standard curriculum in all Washington state high schools.

"We want people, in especially the Pacific Northwest, to really take ownership of Hanford," Peterson emphasized. "And we can demand a better and safer cleanup for all of us."

The U.S. Department of Energy maintains a page dedicated to the Hanford Site cleanup. People interested in volunteering can contact Hanford Challenge and Columbia Riverkeeper.


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