Our Voice: Thumbs up to Hanford's pump and treat program

The Department of Energy and CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co. exceeded this year's goal to remove 500 pounds of hexavalent chromium from groundwater six months ahead of schedule.

Last year, more than 1,000 pounds of chromium were removed from contaminated groundwater along the Columbia River, using five pump-and-treat systems along the river.

The systems pump up contaminated water from a system of wells, filter out the toxic heavy metal, then return the treated water to the ground.

The primary concern about chromium-contaminated groundwater near the Columbia River is risk to aquatic species that live in the gravel riverbed. Fish are more sensitive than people to chromium.

Chromium plumes cover about five square miles along the Columbia River. More than 5,700 pounds of chromium have been removed from groundwater so far -- enough to contaminate 456 billion gallons of water above aquatic standards if it had entered the river.

Keep up the good work.

Who's the lucky guy?

Thumbs down to the Washington State Lottery Commission for allowing big winners to remain anonymous.

We understand why the Kennewick teacher who recently won $250,000 from Washington's Mega Millions lottery would rather not advertise his windfall.

But lots of luck, if he was hoping to keep friends and relatives from seeking a loan. The details released by the state lottery folks are enough to lead anyone who knows him right to the winner.

Other state lotteries ban anonymous winners and for good reason. Making the identities public helps keep the system on the up and up. Any layer of secrecy makes it easier to manipulate the system.

We took a poll around the office. How many still would collect the $250,000 even if their identity was announced? It turns out 100 percent of respondents in our informal sampling said they would take the money.

Dangerous fearmongering

Thumbs down to unfounded fears that keep parents from having their children vaccinated.

This year, the United Kingdom has had more than 1,200 cases of measles, on track to exceed the record number of nearly 2,000 cases reported last year.

That's up from a few dozen cases per year in the U.K. before parents stopped getting their children vaccinated in a hysterical response to a now-discredited study that linked the vaccine to autism.

Health officials in Britain estimate that more than 1 million children went without the vaccine a decade ago, after Andrew Wakefield and colleagues published a study suggesting a link between autism and the combined childhood vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella, called the MMR.

Several large scientific studies failed to find any connection, the theory was rejected by at least a dozen major U.K. medical groups and the paper was eventually retracted by the journal that published it, according to The Associated Press.

Here's what isn't disputed -- vaccinations save lives. Since 2001, measles deaths have dropped by about 70 percent worldwide.

Even so, it is still one of the leading causes of death in children under 5 and kills more than 150,000 people every year, mostly in developing countries.

To stop measles outbreaks, more than 95 percent of children need to be fully immunized -- so opting out puts more than your own children at risk.

But there's nothing like a good outbreak of disease to educate the public. Ellen Christensen, a Welsh mother of an infant son, told the AP she had some "irrational qualms" about the MMR vaccine, but the measles epidemic in Wales has opened her mind.

"After reading more about it, I know now that immunization is not only good for your own child, it's good for everyone," she said.