Hundreds Work at Hanford Despite Long Commute - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Hundreds Work at Hanford Despite Long Commute

A lot of people start their morning with a cup of coffee, but it’s not usually during an hour long drive to work—unless you work at Hanford.

Officials say about 500 people live in Yakima County but work at the Hanford Nuclear reservation 65 miles away.

The commute makes for some interesting scenery.

"We often see coyotes on the way, other wildlife, we've seen elk out there,” said John Guberski who has been making the drive for 12 and a half years now. 

He is an engineer, specializing in environmental compliance at the site and says he prefers the environment in Yakima to Tri-Cities.

"It isn't as orientated to life on the Hanford reservation, there's more trees up here and we liked the school system up here frankly better than we liked the school system down in the Tri-Cities," he said.

Guberski was laid off from another company in 1994 and couldn’t find another job in Yakima that paid as much money as Hanford offered.

He makes the drive in a vanpool with about 12 other Hanford employees.  Yakima Transit rents the vans at a flat rate.  The more people in the van to split that rate, the cheaper the cost to drive--usually a savings of hundreds of dollars per year for vanpoolers.

Vanpoolers then pay 25 cents per mile to cover the cost of gas.  Yakima Transit retires the vans from service after about 80,000 miles.