In the mid-1950s and 60s, eight to nine nuclear reactors were in operation in Hanford, Washington. Water used to cool the reactors went into the Columbia River, and carried with it radioactive elements downstream. Scientists monitored radiation levels in school children around the Tri Cities using radiation monitoring counters. Roy Gephart is the author of Hanford: A Conversation about Nuclear Waste and Cleanup. One day while he was researching radiation monitoring counters, his then girlfriend, Sheila Zilar, came to him with valuable information.