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Published On: Thu, Apr 24th, 2014

400 % Spike in Rare Birth Defects Near Leaking Hanford Nuclear Site

Christof Lehmann (nsnbc) : The Hanford Nuclear site in Washington is attracting renewed attention as rare birth defects, including babies born with parts of their brain missing, spike around the facility. An epidemiologist assigned by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claims the incidents are not focused near the Hanford site, prompting the question how it can be that the CDC official failed to notice that the Hanford site is located in the center of the cluster.


File image: Ancephalic child.

Incidence 400 percent above normal. The Washington State Health Department is trying to identify the cause of an unusually high number of rare birth defects in south central Washington, around the leaking Hanford nuclear site. In 2013, seven cases of anencephaly, a rare and often fatal birth defect were reported in a remote region of Washington State, clustered around the Hanford site.

There is still no explanation for the spike, said State Health Department officials. The seven cases reported in 2013 bring the number of reported cases in the region, which includes Yakima, Benton and Franklin, up to 30 since 2010.

Ancephaly is a rare form of birth defect in which children fail to develop parts of their brain. While the national rate is at 2.1 cases per 10,000 births, the rate in the affected region has increased to a staggering 8,7 cases per 10,000 birth, which is 4,14 times or over 400 percent above average.

While the Washington State Health Department stress the need for a detailed study of the cluster, there is little doubt about the cause for the alarming rate of the severe birth defects among local residents who are pointing at the leaking Hanford nuclear site.

Construction of the Hanford Nuclear Waste Tanks - Plutonium from the Hanford Facility was used for the construction of the bombs that incinerated tens of thousands in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.

Construction of the Hanford Nuclear Waste Tanks – Plutonium from the Hanford Facility was used for the construction of the bombs that incinerated tens of thousands in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.

The Hanford Nuclear Facility is located approximately 300 kilometers southeast of Seattle. The site was, among other used for the production of the Plutonium for the bombs which incinerated tens of thousands in the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killed tens of thousands more from radiation poisoning, and caused generations of human suffering from radiation in Japan.

After the end of the second world war the Hanford facility was upgraded and expanded for cold war nuclear weapons production.

The last reactor at Hanford was shut down in 1987, but both solid and liquid radioactive waste remained at the site. The site has repeatedly caused grave concerns due to leaks.

February 2013, Governor Jay Inslee drew attention to the fact, that at least six of the tanks, which are containing radioactive waste, were leaking. The alarm was raised, after decreasing radioactivity levels were observed within the tanks, while no elevated levels were observed outside of the double shell tanks themselves. The situation developed into a scandal due to federal authorities failure to respond in due time and, according to critics, with appropriate measures.

CDC Epidemiologist claims Incidents are not Focused near Hanford – A Map tells Otherwise. The local Yakima Herald Republic (YHR) cites epidemiologist Mandy Stahre, who is assigned to the Washington state by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as saying that the incidents did not show up seasonably, which they probably would if the cases were tied to pesticide exposure.


Click on the image to view in full size.

The CDC epidemiologist directly contradicts readily available evidence, claiming that the incidents are not focused near the Hanford site.

Yakima, Benton, and Franklin are geographically straddling the leaking Hanford nuclear facility. NBCNews cites CDC epidemiologist Mandy Stahre as sort of hoping the incidents would have gone away, saying:

“We’re really concerned about the fact that the anencephaly rates are still so high. We were sort of hoping that this may have been a statistical anomaly or would go away.”

Genetic councilor Susie Ball is cited by YHR as saying that for birth defects like anencephaly to happen, there needs to be an overlap of both genetic and environmental factors.

While CDC expert Mandy Stahre apparently is “puzzled” by the over 400 percent spike in the tragic birth defect, the most puzzling mystery appears to be how a CDC epidemiologist can claim that the incidents are not focused near the Hanford site. That is, presuming that a CDC official is capable of looking at a map and to locate Yakima, Benton, Franklin, and the Hanford nuclear site which is centered in between them.

Ch/L – nsnbc 24.04.2014

Follow-up article:

Hanford Engineer: Digging Debate Covers Up Decades of Dirt

Related article:

Washington on Alert after Nuclear Waste Leak

Note: Are you a resident of Yakima, Franklin, or Benton county? Are or have you been working at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation? Have you / your family or loved ones been affected? Do you have important information to share? – nsnbc international has launched an in-depth investigation and we are asking you to come forward. We guarantee name protection for whistleblowers. You can contact our editor in chief by e-mail, Skype or phone at: e-mail:, SkypeID: – or phone +45 322 177 31

About the Author

- Dr. Christof Lehmann is the founder and editor of nsnbc. He is a psychologist and former independent political consultant on conflict, conflict resolution and a wide range of other political issues. In March 2013 he established nsnbc as a daily, independent, international on-line newspaper. He can be contacted at nsnbc international at

Displaying 40 Comments
Have Your Say
  1. Sandy says:

    nsnbc please investigate. They will try to cover it up, herbicides, pesticides, or Hanford, they will try to cover it up, I can see already.

  2. Andrea says:

    Frieghteningly alarming. …save our water…save our Mother

  3. Let’s not overlook that newly arriving ionic water that was released from Japan’s two faulty nuclear power plants that were considered poorly run, whose water was dumped/ran over into the Pacific Ocean’s water, which has already been found within the Canadian soil on the Pacific Coastal area. Washington and the Northern part of Canada both have the Pacific Ocean’s waters as their sources.

    • Steven Jones says:

      IF this had anything to do with something as far away as Japan, than the effect would not be as localized and centered around the Hanford facility as it is.Let’s not get “distracted” from the obvious – no matter how much some people would wish that we would.

  4. Several things to consider. First, Yakima County, and to a lesser extent, Benton and Franklin counties have high nitrate in water. Second, Yakima county is upwind from Hanford and about 400 feet in elevation higher. Third, there are two other counties to the north, which is a downwind direction from Hanford, that are not showing the spike. BTW, to the person blaming the ocean plume from Japan, the area in question is about 200 miles inland and basically a desert averaging around 8 inches of rain a year.

  5. I live near Hanford.
    Let me tell you what will happen.
    The CDC will give all who ask a silent treatment. If they say anything its via an “official”spokesman. Could as well hire a parrot, not allowed to say a word other than the papers given him/her..The Wash State Health Department will whitewash everything, looking for anything but the OBVIOUS ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM. LOCAL people like me, who are stupid enough to speak out and give their own name WILL be silenced… Hey, dying from cancer is a natural death, right? Accidents can happen? Happened to me, happened to other good people and WILL continue unless YOU STOP IT.

  6. Steven Jones says:

    Dr. Lehmann, thank you for opening that can of worms which most Americans fear so much that they look away. If we shall be honest we will have to admit that the NRC, the IAEA, the CDC, the Health Department, the Military and the White House all do us a big favor by covering up the true scale of this disaster because WE the people don’t want to know, we want to stick our head into the sand. Thank you for an eyeopener and thank you because you as a foreigner started to open that can of worms.

  7. RuthM says:

    Well well well.
    Franklin, Benton, Yakima….. and where else do we see similar levels of anencephaly ??? Fallujah and other cities in Iraq where the US used dirty uranium bombs and munitions!!
    It is really hard to believe that the CDC and the DoH still can find people unethical and corrupt enough to maintain the coverup. People who spit in the face of their fellow citizens for money and a lousy job. What name can one have for people of that “ilk”. The question is what can I do, any ideas please? This is turning much stomach from wrath, I want to act!

    • Laurie Sheldon..... Shivani says:

      And now Pernambuco Brazil..blaming it on mosquitoes virus..or GM mosquitoes..or vaccines..or Monsanto larvacide..Bahia has open pit uranium mining..and ID like to know where they have been throwing Angras Nuclear waste?!?!

  8. Johnny A says:

    This is even more reason to clean it up. It deserves to be a superfund site. I don’t necessarily believe and throwing money at it, but the continual budget cuts affecting the safe operation and cleanup of the site is at the mercy of the government.
    It doesn’t matter what party you belong to, cutting funding doesn’t help anyone. It’s time to clean it up once and for all. Remove the heavy metals from the river and, properly dispose of the radioactive waste.

  9. Amanda112 says:

    I live in richland near Hanford. It’s a HUGE source of jobs out here and essentially what keeps our economy booming around here as much as it is. If there is anything that threatens that, I’m sure there would be many people willing to cover it up!

  10. Riever says:

    Seems like the effected area would be where the workers live and considering how often we see releases on site that’s either not reported or glossed over for the public it’s truly not surprising.for that matter the amount of released items checked for radiological issues never seen industrial health testing until very recently that stuffs still out there.

  11. Erin says:

    I live right by Hanford. Those cases of defects were, if I remember correctly, in the farming communities upriver. I actually knew a family that lost a baby with anciphaly, in 2008ish. They were upriver, in Prosser, closer to the other cases, still considered Benton county but 45 minutes on the highway. I really don’t think it’s hanford causing it because if it were, it would be the down river population being affected and it’s not. It’s something coming from the Yakima valley. All the cases have been hispanic from the rural areas north of hanford. Need to find it the common denominator among them. In my best guess it’s eating fish out of the yakima river, which is filthy and farmers and tree top dump tons of shit in it. Chemicals and actual shit, from cows. I know they fish and swim in it.

    • Katie says:

      Erin you are right. It has been mostly upriver, but the fact that it circles the hanford on a larger scale can’t be ignored. Also, there are gates to hanford up in yakima so it’s not just richland hanford is near.

      (Katie we moved your comment HERE because because it is an ANSEWER) ;)

      • Steven Jones says:

        Katie – You make a valid point with regard to circling the Hanford reservation on a larger scale.
        Besides that. @ Erin your point neglects the fact that there can be literally trillions of “HOT PARTICLES” suspended in the air, transported with the wind etc.. Your point does not invalidate Hanford as risk factor, not at all.

        • Rob says:

          Air born contaminants have been less of a concern for decades. These are highly monitored and that again would show in cases in the Richland, Kennewick and Pasco areas as the prevailing winds blow towards that area. That is why people in the Tri-cities area are called “down winders”. The leaking tanks are a concern for contaminating the river water. The river waters also flow towards the Tri-cities then South before heading West along the Oregon/Washington boarder to the ocean. If this birth defect is caused by the leaking radiation from those tanks the cases should be more previlant in the Tri-Cities and the Oregon cities of Hermiston and Umatilla.
          Side note, the ‘Yakima gate’, is Thirty miles East of Yakima and is actually closer to Richland. It was named “Yakima Baricade” because that is the entrance to the site that workers coming from Yakima would use.

          • Sandy says:

            Rob, you sound like someone who either is misled, misleading, or misleading himself. The tanks are a concern, so are a lot of other escapes of liquid matter in the environment. When the liquids have evaporated, what is left is? Oh right, particulate matter. HOT particles. Now, show me any place in the world other than the North and South poles where the wind is only blowing in one direction. As to the monitoring. I have spoken to the so-called official “experts”. NON is monitoring for HOT particles, not even their likely distribution. Stop believing the b.s. the community has been told, its ENOUGH already.

    • Tanya says:

      We’ll u might be on to something cause I had two babies with spinal bifia and died my husband and I are very heavy fisherman at hanford reach

  12. Sara Weber says:

    Thank you for your diligence reporting on this. Does anyone know how many pregancies were terminated after ultrasound detection of this horrendous birth defect? The stats released are based on “births”

  13. fug says:

    I would say it is glypgosphates and 2 4 d

  14. Seaseidh says:

    If the federal government hadent screwed us over and tied our hands from using the vitrofication plant we were building, we would have been nearly to the point that we could safely be removing all this haz-mat

  15. Libbe HaLevy says:

    The three counties are the one that contains the Hanford Site/CGS and the two adjacent counties. No one here is saying the “R” word – Radiation. Yet the anencephaly and spina bifida mutations are consistent with DNA damage caused by radiation. Yet another time when the “experts” are not so expert…

    • nsnbc says:

      We followed up on this, use the Hanford tag (top left in red). We also followed up with the Washington State CDC about another rare congenital syndrome in December 2014. At that time they replied that they would check if they had data on this and have “an expert” get back to nsnbc as soon as possible after the Christmas holidays.. ….. It’s now February 16, 2015. They must be rather busy at the CDC.. but we will continue following up.
      NB.: It’s maybe noteworthy that WashState epidemiologist Mandy Stahre quit her job – not long after we interviewed her and made her aware of that there is a difference between exposure to ionizing radiation and internal exposure, so.. Independent Media Matter.. Keep up your good work with the Nuclear Hotseat Libbe HaLevy.. The world needs more people of your ilk. Yours, F Al-Khadoumi, co-editor, nsnbc.

  16. memu15 says:

    I was born in Yakima in 1943. My parents had lived there during my mother’s pregnancy and until i was 3 yrs. old. At 16 I found out that I was sterile–normal ovaries and fallopian tubes but a rudimentary uterus. Have often wondered if being down wind from Hanford was the cause of this.

  17. Deb Johnson says:

    Yes my grandfather worked during the construction of the Hanford Nuclear plant in 1944 and was in Socorro, mn in1946, which is 30 miles from the test site. My grandfather died early at 65. My father died at 65 from leukemia and colon cancer. My uncle suffered from the same. The government has covered all of this up. I’ve tried to claim RECA but of course denied. I wish someone would come forward with any information. I’ve tried to find more information, but nothing so far.

  18. melissa g says:

    my husband was born in 1972 and was born with his insides on the outside….they said it had to do with hanford…i guess when it came time to sue, handfords lawyers paid off my inlaws lawyers….to this day, my husband still has to have surgeries to replace netting in his stomach so his insides stay in place….

  19. PaytonB says:

    This increase is also in areas of Washington that are upwind, upstream, and upgradient of Hanford. I’m sure you all have a conspiracy theory as to how those communities are affected.

    However, you should consider that the water here has high levels of Nitrates not due to Hanford, but your friendly every day farmer! Yes, the people who grow your food are introducing excessive amounts of Nitrates into the rivers and groundwater.

    Guess what nitrates do? They block the absorption of folic acid. Guess what that results in? Yes, these birth defects.

  20. Dr Ben Lynch says:

    Hello –

    Between the high rate of a common genetic polymorphism (MTHFR) in the hispanic population, high rate of pesticides, herbicides, high rate of nitrates in the soil leading to nitric oxide uncoupling and thus reduced blood flow to developing baby – oh – and your findings of the Hartford spill – it’s a perfect storm.

    Then add on the fact that subsidized GMO, processed fast food is less expensive than natural whole foods.

    I’d be happy to share science and biochemistry – and nutrigenomics – which prove that this population is susceptible – and that their environment is seriously contributing to this huge spike of birth defects.

    It’s a shame.

    Folic acid is NOT the answer.

    A cleaner environment is along with our politicians actually protecting us vs big corporate interests.

    Dr Lynch

  21. tanya says:

    I have lost two baby’s one was water around brain spinal bifocal where spine by neck exposed and I live ten to fifteen minutes from hanford

    • nsnbc says:

      Hello Tanya:
      Sorry for you and your loved ones. If you want to come forward with your experience contact nsnbc international by email at “” – Write Hanford in the subject line and we’ll get in touch with you. We can protect / alter your name if necessary, but we need to see documentation to see that the information provided by you is correct. Residence, name, medical records, etc.. Provided that this checks out we would of course like to cover this, either in an article, an interview, and/or by following up with the CDC, etc.. Again, sorry for your loss. Jeanette. Editorial assistant at nsnbc.

  22. Gabriel Retana says:

    My name is Gabriel Retana and I have a daughter that’s 14 years old with spinal bifida and to know that there issues involving Hanford and living in this area my hole life and to know there issues with this how and who do are family’s get help from please help me and my family get the right direction to protect my kids and family’s that live in this area next to handford waste site ..who’s responsibility is it …

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