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Speaker Series: The Inequities of Hanford

Wed., Nov. 20, 2013 | 12:30 – 1:30 pm


The U.S. Government considers Hanford to be the most contaminated site in the western hemisphere yet most Washington residents know very little about the former plutonium processing facility in the central part of our state. With 53 million gallons of highly radioactive waste stored in leaking underground tanks and migrating towards the Colombia River, Hanford cannot remain shrouded in the Cold War secrecy that led to its development.

This speaking series, part of a class taught by Burke Curator of Asian Pacific Ethnology Holly Barker, focuses on the legacies and clean-up challenges linked to the Hanford facility. Hanford means different things to different people: for some it is their sacred homeland and connection to their ancestors, for others it is a place of employment where people struggle to contain leaking remnants of the Cold War. Speakers will explore questions and inequities surrounding clean-up policy, economics, health and safety, and other issues.

All classes are free and open to the public.

Oct. 2, 12:30-1:30 p.m. – Mike Geffre, Department of Energy

As a long-term employee if Hanford, Mike Geffre will discuss the challenges of bringing to light concerns about public health and safety at Hanford.

Oct. 9, 12:30-1:30 p.m. – Gerry Pollet, Washington State House of Representatives, 46th District

WA State Representative Gerry Pollet will discuss the ways that legislators can influence the clean-up process at Hanford. In addition to his legislative work, Rep. Pollet founded and directs Heart of America NW, a nonprofit focused on Hanford.

Oct. 30, 12:30-1:30 p.m. – Kathleen Flenniken, Washington State Poet Laureate

Kathleen is a former engineer at Hanford and is Washington State’s Poet Laureate and the author of Plume, a collection of poems about her childhood in Richland. Kathleen will talk about the importance of the arts to express the emotional and complex responses to Hanford, ideas not frequently communicated in a scientific discourse. 

Nov. 6, 12:30-1:30 p.m. – Michele Gerber, Historian

Dr. Michelle Gerber is the author of On the Home Front: The Cold War Legacy of the Hanford Nuclear Site, a comprehensive history of America's first plutonium production complex.  Dr. Gerber will situate Hanford in its larger historical context of the Manhattan Project and the Cold War.

Nov. 13, 12:30-1:30 p.m. – The Raging Grannies

The Raging Grannies are a group of activist grandmothers who raise awareness about social justice issues through song and humor.

Nov. 20, 12:30-1:30 p.m. – Jim and Leah Aleck, Yakama Nation

Hanford altered the lives and cultures of many Tribes, including those displaced from the land where Hanford resides and the tribes that mined the uranium processed at Hanford. Jim and Leah Aleck will share the Yakama Nation's perspectives. 

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