In our effort to win and end World War II, the United States secretly manufactured plutonium for the atom bombs. These bombs eventually forced Japan to surrender and end the war. The plutonium was manufactured at the Hanford site, approximately 10 miles west of Richland off of highway 240. Hanford is listed as one of the most radioactive contaminated areas on the planet and contains about two-thirds of our nation’s nuclear waste.

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Most of the waste is in the form of sludge, described as a peanut butter substance. Other waste buried on the site includes submarine cores, tools, safety items, and workers' clothing. But there are some odd things buried out there as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you can believe this, six Radio Flyer wagons were used as “safety” items. Workers used the wagons to haul bomb-grade plutonium inside the plant.  Apparently, plutonium will chain-react if too much of the substance gets too close together, which could cause a “flash” of radiation, which is very deadly. Using the wagons helped space out canisters of plutonium to prevent this from happening.

One of the most disturbing things buried on the site was over 800 dead Beagles.  The dogs were part of a radiation experiment during the Cold War in which they were fed plutonium-laced food for nearly 30-years. The study was implemented to see how plutonium would affect their health. The data collected helped shape safety protocol for humans.

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One of the side effects was lung cancer – the Beagles developed this disease very quickly. This finding led to very strict safety rules for workers on the site.

The Beagles were frozen and packed into 55-gallon drums and shipped to the Hanford site in October of 1990 to be buried. 27-years of radioactive dog waste (over 17 tons) was also shipped and buried at Hanford.  The cost of this cleanup was estimated at over $22 million dollars. The last dog in the experiment died at the age of 18.5 in 1986. The original experiment began in 1959 at a secret facility near the UC Davis campus.

Beagles are once again back in the news as rumored reports of the breed being used to study infectious diseases have surfaced.

 

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