Submerged in a pool of water at Hanford Site are 1,936 stainless-steel nuclear-waste capsules containing cesium and strontium. Combined, they contain over 120 million curies of radioactivity. It is estimated to be the most curies under one roof in the United States. The blue glow is created by the Cherenkov Effect which describes the electromagnetic radiation emitted when a charged particle, giving off energy, moves faster than light through a transparent medium. [An analogy is the resulting shockwave when exceeding the speed of sound.] The temperatures of the capsules are as high as 330 degrees Fahrenheit [165°C]. The pool of water serves as a shield against radiation; a human standing one foot from an unshielded capsule would receive a lethal dose of radiation in less than 10 seconds. Hanford is among the most contaminated sites in the United States.
Hanford Site produced the plutonium for Hiroshima and Nagasaki and concentratred most of the plutonium for the US missile warheads.
Photographed by Taryn Simon.