Hanford Information | About Us

The 586-square-mile Hanford Site is located in Benton County in southeastern Washington state. It borders the Columbia River and operated for nearly 50 years producing plutonium for national defense programs.

In the late 1980s, emphasis switched to environmental cleanup and restoration of the site. In 2005, Washington Closure Hanford was selected by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Richland Operations Office as the River Corridor Cleanup Contractor.

In 1943, under the auspices of the government’s Manhattan Project, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began construction at Hanford on the B Reactor, the United States’ first full-scale nuclear material production reactor.

Between 1943 and 1963, nine plutonium production reactors, five chemical processing plants and various support facilities were constructed and operated.

Reactor facilities were located along the Columbia River while the processing plants and other facilities were located on Hanford’s central plateau.

Fuel manufacturing facilities and research laboratories were located in the southeast corner of the site, near the city of Richland. Production cutbacks started in 1964 and all of Hanford’s major facilities had been closed by 1989.

Like most manufacturing processing sites, wastes were generated during operations. In the early 1940s, amidst the urgency of World War II, the government was in a desperate race to build an atomic bomb before the Germans.

It would be untrue to say that waste cleanup was not a priority during those demanding times, or since. But in hindsight, it is clear that past decisions contributed to current conditions.

For additional information about Hanford history, visit the About Us section of the Hanford Web site.