Arid Lands at NWFF

Arid Lands presents a side of SW Washington state that I never even knew about. Hanford, WA was the site of a major plutonium production center in the 1940s. 50,000 workers moved to this rural town, population of approximately 500, to extract plutonium for atomic bombs – namely the bomb that the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima. The site flourished through the Cold War era, literally dumping tons of nuclear waste into holes in the ground and into the Columbia River. The environment, its people, and animals suffered from the results of this project. The government ordered a clean-up that is currently the largest in the nation. This morning NPR announced the results of a study that proves that Hanford workers are 11 times more likely to suffer from lung cancer and white blood cell cancer than the average American. Judging from the movie, the local population of the Tri-Cities seems unperturbed.

The film features interviews from locals, workers from the site, Native Americans, farmers, vineyard owners, and a construction site manager. Arid Lands pictures a region that was once scarred by the reaping of its resources, and the resilience of nature to carry on. The film’s quiet, portrait-like shots of the landscape resonate even after you leave the theater. NWFF will screen the film for the last time tonight at 7pm and 9pm. Don’t miss it.

2 thoughts on “Arid Lands at NWFF

  1. We’re glad that you made it out to see Arid Lands! Our executive director, Gerry Pollet, appears in the film and Heart of America NW continues to work to provide the public with resources and information on continuing Hanford cleanup activities. Please join us in our efforts — check out our blog for (almost) daily news updates and other musings, and make your voice be heard when big decisions come up for public comment! Let us know if you’d like any more information about Hanford.

  2. People may wish to know more about the Arid Lands area before it was destroyed by the atomic developments. Two vibrant cultures existed, first the Wanapum and other Indians, then the orchardists. My book, “Orchards of Eden: White Bluffs on the Columbia, 1907-1943”, tells something about the first, and a lot about the orchardists. You can get it (autographed) from me, from Amazon Marketplace, from the publisher at, or from many Central WA bookstores, museums, and libraries. 434 pp. Photos, Bib and Index. Nancy Mendenhall

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