“OMSI After Dark” to Feature Oregon Department of Energy’s Jeff Burright on Hanford Cleanup and Why it Matters to Oregon

The country’s largest environmental cleanup project – and Oregon’s role in the cleanup efforts – will be featured at the next OMSI After Dark on April 24. Jeff Burright, a nuclear waste remediation specialist at the Oregon Department of Energy, will present on the Hanford Nuclear Site and efforts to address contamination at the facility, which sits on the Columbia River just 35 miles from the Oregon border.

OMSI After Dark is a fun, interactive event geared toward the 21-and-over crowd, with food, drinks, and lively presentations. Burright’s presentation will fit right in with the evening’s topic, “Poisonous World.” He’ll focus on radiation and its health effects while discussing the past, present, and future of Hanford, which was used by the federal government to produce plutonium for the nation’s nuclear weapons program for more than 40 years.

Since plutonium production ended in 1989, the focus at Hanford has shifted to addressing the massive amounts of radioactive and chemically hazardous waste at the site. Over the years, an estimated 444 billion gallons of contaminated liquid was dumped into the soil, causing extensive contamination of Hanford's groundwater. The most hazardous of the liquid waste was pumped into 177 underground storage tanks – some of which are nearly 75 years old.

“From Hanford, the Columbia River flows through prime Oregon farmlands and fisheries and past our communities on its way to the ocean,” Burright noted. “Making sure that we’re monitoring cleanup activities, and protecting our state and the river from Hanford-related contamination, is important to so much that we value here in Oregon.”

Hanford and Columbia River graphic.jpg

Oregon Department of Energy experts provide technical reviews and policy analysis related to the Hanford cleanup. The U.S. Department of Energy, which now owns and operates the Hanford site, has made significant progress on several Oregon cleanup priorities. The extent of the contamination is so widespread, however, and some of the challenges so difficult, that USDOE expects cleanup to continue for another 40 years or more.

Visit ODOE’s website to learn more about Hanford’s history and Oregon’s role in the cleanup.

Event Details:

OMSI After Dark: Poisonous World
$7.50 for OMSI members; $15 general public
April 24, 2019 at 6 p.m.
1945 SE Water Ave in Portland, OR