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.