Nuclear waste experts meet in Kennewick

KENNEWICK -- Nearly 300 of the world's top experts from 21 countries in dealing with subterranean nuclear waste issues are meeting this week at the Three Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick.

They are sharing science and trying to better understand how to deal with the legacy of radioactive materials.

The Migration '09 conference has booked the convention center all week. That means the Kennewick Public Facilities District Board of Directors must hold its monthly meeting Thursday across the parking lot at the Toyota Center.

"This is the most important conference (in the world) relating to the science behind the solutions," said Thomas Fanghanel, a researcher from Germany who is chairman of the conference.

Fanghanel said the steering committee selected the convention center in Kennewick for its annual confab partly because conference attendees will be able to tour the Hanford site and see the B Reactor where plutonium was made for the World War II effort. It also will allow them to visit the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory.

This is the 12th annual conference, which has been held in faraway places, including Germany, Spain, France, Japan, Korea and other cities in the United States.