Unmaking the Bomb: The Cultural Politics of Waste, Health, and Science at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This dissertation examines the social politics of waste management at Washington State's Hanford Nuclear Reservation. The most contaminated site in the nation, Hanford is currently engaged in the largest environmental remediation project in human history—legally required to implement protective measures that will remain effective for 10,000 years. Informed by eighteen months of fieldwork and more than 100 in-depth interviews with Hanford workers, managers, and area residents, this dissertation explores how nuclear remediation is made “possible” despite its inherent uncertainties. It argues that cleanup relies upon the dual modalities of environmental and social management—securing waste while at the same time creating the conditions in which long-term contamination is culturally acceptable.