The Hanford Waste Treatment Plant, or the vit plant when referred to by its nickname, is a big deal to the Mid-Columbia.
But like most everything else on the Hanford site, the general public -- including friends and family of the workers building the $12.2 billion project -- likely will never see it.
Armed guards, trained dogs and high fences stand between most Mid-Columbians and that facility.
Since it's not feasible to take the public to the construction site, Bechtel National and the Department of Energy are bringing the site to the people.
The vitrification plant team is holding an open house today from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at the Richland Red Lion. We're hoping for a crowd to take advantage of this important opportunity.
Visitors will have a chance to view exhibits and videos and question experts on various plant-related topics -- from nuclear safety to construction costs.
The facility is groundbreaking in every sense of the word. Workers are building a machine to treat a mix radioactive and chemical wastes that no one fully understands. And they're doing it on a scale that's never been attempted.
Residents of the communities closest to the project ought to have a lot of questions. The open house is a good step toward answering at least some of them.
Whatever the event can do to improve transparency and promote public awareness is welcome.
We've written editorials critical of the vit plant management and the Department of Energy as a whole for making decisions in a vacuum. The public shouldn't be shut out of such a monumental project.
We don't expect the open house to resolve every issue or remove all doubt.
But raising public awareness is an important step in being part of the community.