The Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington has inspired documentaries, museum exhibits, art shows and even a book of poetry. Now, a Northwest band call Tangerine is about to release a new song that tackles the leaking tanks of radioactive waste at the federal site.
“I guess it’s a slightly unusual topic for a pop song," admits Marika Justad. "Especially one that has a romantic angle. Justad sings and plays guitar and piano for Tangerine, an alternative pop band from Seattle.
“I read a headline that said Governor Inslee believes there is no imminent danger to the groundwater of Washington state," Justad says. "And I was like, what is the danger in general? So I read more about it and I realized there were some tanks leaking at the Hanford nuclear site, which I found pretty scary.”
“The Columbia River is somewhere where my family has spent a lot of time in the past, so that just struck me pretty hard. I was already writing a song that I thought was sort of boring, it was kind of a by-the-books romantic song. And I wanted to add an environmental angle, but I didn’t want to hit people over the head with it. Especially since I’m not really an expert in any way.
"So I decided to write a song a little tongue-in-cheek about a romance taking place on a Riviera -- 'Hanford Riviera' -- that’s been tainted by nuclear waste. And sort of incorporate the paranoia, impending doom that would come from that situation.”
“The song for me represents just a state of mind that I think a lot of people my age might share. Which is I think we all know that something totally not cool is going on with the environment in general global warming, nuclear contamination you know floating islands of trash, but most people don’t know where to begin to address those issues. And so it just floats in the background an underlying sense of uneasiness."
"And that’s what the song is really trying to capture.”
Tangerine’s new song "Hanford Riviera" will be released on Swoon Records on August 31.
Click the icon below to hear "Hanford Riviera" by Tangerine
Special thanks to Cathy Duchamp and Melissa Hoyos for helping with this story.