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.
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