Problem will be more complex, costly if ignored
We greatly appreciate the editorial “Keep Hanford a priority” [Opinion, March 11], especially with regard to the tanks that are leaking radioactive waste at the Hanford nuclear reservation.
Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility has several unique education programs aimed at keeping the spotlight on the Hanford cleanup. Hazardous nuclear waste studies raise concerns that contamination is flowing into the Columbia River, endangering human health as well as natural resources. About 70 square miles of groundwater beneath Hanford is contaminated above the Environmental Protection Agency drinking-water standards with uranium, which damages the kidneys; iodine-129, which damages the thyroid; and strontium-90, a radioactive contaminant that contributes to bone cancer, suppresses the immune system and bioconcentrates in fish tissues.
The Hanford cleanup is a complex and expensive task. However, we believe the damage to human health from improper cleanup will be vastly more complex and costly if this cleanup effort is ignored or stalled.
–Richard W. Grady, MD, Seattle Children’s Hospital, Seattle
Steven G. Gilbert, Ph.D., DABT, Institute of Neurotoxicology & Neurological Disorders, Seattle