For Orion, Rachel Greenley looks at America’s love affair with all things nuclear and its complete inability to manage disasters and the toxic waste that has been contaminating soil and water in nearby communities for decades, with deadly results.

Here is the narrative on the atomic bomb: It was created out of urgency. The United States and our Allies were losing the war. Thousands of young American men had died. Japan had bombed Pearl Harbor. Intel reported that the Germans had discovered fission, the process used to break apart an atom’s nucleus and release its energy. Hitler could not win. Hanford’s B Reactor was built within a year and produced plutonium just a few months later. It was a secretive project. Most workers and the surrounding communities did not know the full extent of what they were working on or living by or exposed to. They were simply proud to be contributing to the war effort.