Less than three hours east of Seattle is the most contaminated site in the United States—the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. Hanford stores 56 million gallons of radioactive waste in old, leaky underground tanks just a few miles from the Columbia River. As more and more concerns about the cleanup arose and some workers were even being fired after publicly raising safety concerns, the nonprofit Hanford Challenge was created to advocate for workers at the site. Now Town Hall and Hanford Challenge team up to present a livestreamed conversation about the actual cleanup taking place at this nuclear waste site, and the ways that whistleblowers there have impacted cleanup and public policy.
In a conversation moderated by Hanford Challenge Executive Director Tom Carpenter, author Tom Mueller joins us with insight from his book Crisis of Conscience, offering a cultural history of whistleblowers and fraud. Drawing from real examples at the Hanford site, Mueller highlights the ways that whistleblowers force us to confront fundamental questions about the balance between free speech and state secrecy, and between individual rights and corporate power. Mueller is joined by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who discusses his role at Hanford. Ferguson shares a firsthand account of his office’s oversight on cleanup deadlines and its role in protecting worker health and safety. He lays out the policy importance of protecting workers’ rights at Hanford, and shows us how it connects to our well-being in the PNW at large. Sit in for a conversation with Carpenter, Ferguson, and Mueller as they explore the present and future of nuclear safety and policy in our region.
Bob Ferguson is Washington State’s 18th Attorney General. Ferguson has filed multiple successful legal actions against the U.S. Department of Energy regarding the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, first for delaying cleanup of nuclear waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, and then for putting hundreds of Hanford workers at risk of exposure to harmful toxic waste.
Tom Mueller is a free-lance writer of nonfiction and fiction. He is the author of Extra Virginity, a New York Times best-selling account of olive oil culture, history, and crime. His work can be found in The New Yorker, National Geographic Magazine, New York Times Magazine, Atlantic Monthly, and elsewhere.
Tom Carpenter is the Executive Director of Hanford Challenge who brings four decades of experience in organizing, litigating, and policy oversight in the nuclear field. As an attorney, Tom has represented numerous whistleblowers at various nuclear sites around the nation, and has authored numerous reports and articles on the effects of nuclear production on the environment and workforce health and safety.
Presented by Town Hall Seattle and Hanford Challenge.