Sen. Murray adds voice to ‘Daughters of Hanford’ project

By Darin Watkins, The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication

Murray-mugRICHLAND, Wash. – U.S. Sen. Patty Murray of Washington has helped funnel millions of dollars to assist Hanford Nuclear Reservation cleanup. What few know is the deep family connection she has to the site.

In the early 1940s, her father was growing up in the small town of Hanford near the Columbia River when the federal government arrived and gave families 45 days to pack up and leave.

“All of a sudden, Hanford – a place where he had gone to play high school basketball and knew people from – was just completely gone,” said Murray.

She joins a host of others as part of a 12-part series on Northwest Public Radio, “Daughters of Hanford.” Their stories can be heard at

NWPR is part of The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University.

The ruins of the town where Murray’s father once lived now lie in the shadow of the F Reactor, built as part of the Manhattan Project.

“Later on as I got into politics myself and became responsible as a United States senator for funding it, I became aware of the complexity and the size and the incredible work that was done there that was so secret – when my dad was there,” Murray said.

Among the other voices heard in the series is Natalie Swan, a member of the Yakama Nation and biologist for the Yakama Nation Environment Restoration Waste Management Program. She helps negotiate long-term cleanup on behalf of the tribe.

She said her love for the region’s plant life is among the reasons she remains passionate about her work, with hopes of keeping the land viable for her children and their children.

The series is produced by NWPR’s Anna King. It will be included in a gallery exhibit – opening Aug. 1 at the Reach interpretive center – along with photographs of the “daughters” and a geo-mapping feature for smartphone users to access more about Hanford sites around the Tri-Cities.

The Daughters of Hanford series can be heard on Northwest Public Radio or on the NWPR website at Women may submit their own stories to be included in the project at

A theme song, “Fission Phizz,” written for the series by Walla Walla-area composers Sally Singer Tuttle and Kristin Vining, can be downloaded at

King’s reporting is shared with other public radio stations in the region though the Northwest News Network.