"About 9,700 canisters of high-level radioactive waste and more than 2,000 tons of used nuclear weapons fuel were expected to be shipped to Yucca from the Hanford Site in Washington State. Hanford is a largely abandoned Manhattan Project relic that produced, among other nuclear weapons exploits, the Fat Man atomic bomb detonated over Nagasaki during World War II. It sits about 250 miles up the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon.
Hanford’s waste has been notoriously mismanaged. Rarely does a year pass when there isn’t another major investigative report talking about how Hanford waste was dumped downriver or leaked into the atmosphere.
One of the more recent reports, published by Seattle Weekly in February, called Hanford "one of the most toxic nuclear-waste sites in the world," concluding that the agencies managing Hanford are "at best ignoring, and at worst actively retaliating against, experts with inconvenient opinions" about the radiation that continues to emanate from Hanford.
If Yucca never goes forward, Washington State legislators believe Hanford’s waste could sit permanently where it is. So it’s no wonder that one of the states pushing hardest to open Yucca is Washington State. Legislators and lawyers there have filed multiple lawsuits against the federal government about the Yucca stalemate.
On Capitol Hill in March 2010, Patty Murray, a senior U.S. Senator representing Washington State, told Energy Secretary Steven Chu, "over the last 30 years, Congress, independent studies, previous administrations have all pointed to and voted for and funded Yucca Mountain as the Nation's best option for a nuclear repository."
And that may be so. But Sen. Murray and others in Washington State aren’t pushing for Yucca because they think Yucca is a particularly viable, scientifically sound waste site. They' just want nuclear waste out of their backyard."