At the center of every nuclear weapon in the United States is a small pit of radioactive material manufactured at a top-secret facility in Eastern Washington, a facility which today remains the most radiologically contaminated site in the Western hemisphere.
But Washington State’s role in the nuclear era ranges far beyond the construction, operation, and ongoing cleanup of the Hanford nuclear reservation. Today, Washington has two operating nuclear reactors, one of which provides us with ten percent of our electricity. Radioactive substances are used in our state to cure diseases, build airplanes, detect pollutants, and power smoke detectors. Further, Naval Base Kitsap has the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons deployed anywhere in the country.
Drawing from history, science, and popular culture, author Steve Olson reveals the many influences of nuclear materials on Washington State, and the many ways in which our state has been a pioneer in the atomic age.
Steve Olson (he/him) is a writer who most recently authored The Apocalypse Factory: Plutonium and the Making of the Atomic Age. His books have been nominated in several local and national book awards. Since 1979, he has been a consultant writer for the National Academy of Sciences, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, and other national scientific organizations.
Raised in Eastern Washington, Olson now lives in Seattle.
- July 14, 2022
- Harbor History Museum
About Speakers Bureau Events
Speakers Bureau talks are free public presentations on history, politics, music, philosophy, and everything in between. Humanities Washington’s Speakers Bureau roster is made up of professors, artists, activists, historians, performers, journalists, and others—all chosen not only for their expertise, but their ability to inspire discussion with people of all ages and backgrounds. All talks are free and open to the public, and each lasts about an hour. They are hosted by a wide range of organizations throughout Washington State.