Cold War era Hanford workers honored on National Day of Remembrance

Oct 28, 2011

RICHLAND, Wash. — Sunday is the National Day of Remembrance honoring some of the lesser-known players in the Cold War. The U.S. Senate passed a resolution designating the day as a time to remember the sacrifices of nuclear workers. Dozens of former Hanford Nuclear Reservation workers gathered Friday in Richland.

Tea sandwiches, coffee and dozens of smiles warmed up the chilly fall afternoon at the Richland Community Center.

Many Cold War workers have been exposed to radiation or chemicals, and have become ill. But those who showed up at this event mostly wanted to talk about their former mission — building up the nation's nuclear arsenal.

James Bresina says he spent nearly 30 years at the site as a machinist.

"It was very secretive. Very tense," he says. "Our main project was to keep the reactors running. It was a great time. We had a mission."

Hanford no longer produces plutonium. Instead, the mission has changed: Thousands of workers are cleaning up the site including 56 million gallons of radioactive sludge.

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