Democratic News

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, questioned the National Park Service on its plans to choose a headquarters for the Manhattan Project National Historical Park.

The Manhattan Project National Historical Park is designed to commemorate the combined efforts of scientists, industry, the military and American citizens working together during World War II to build nuclear weapons. The park will include sites in three states—Hanford, Wash.; Los Alamos, N.M. and Oak Ridge, Tenn.

Victor Knox, an official with the Park Service who is leading the Manhattan Project implementation team, came before the committee, where Sen. Cantwell spoke with him. Sen. Cantwell, who sponsored the bill establishing the park, stressed the strong, local support for the site and asked if Hanford is being considered as the park’s headquarters.

“Can you tell me if you have made any decisions about the siting of the park headquarters and specifically, whether the Hanford site is still under consideration?” Sen. Cantwell asked.

“I want to thank you for championing the bill that created the Manhattan Project National Historical Park. … We have made no decision, at this point, on the location of the headquarters and probably are a ways away from making those organizational decisions. But I would like to commit to you, senator, that we would look at the relatively equal staffing levels, equal importance in each of the communities because they each have clearly an important part of the story,” Knox said.

The national park may include several historic sites that help tell the story of the Manhattan Project at Hanford, such as the old Hanford High School building, the Hanford Construction Camp, the White Bluffs Bank or the pump house. Senator Cantwell urged that the Park Service take all of that into consideration when making decisions about what should be included.

“The legislation that was passed requires Hanford B Reactor to be part of this Manhattan Project Historical National Park, and then there are a number of properties within all three states that are eligible to be within the boundary of the park. We are working with DOE for all of the DOE-administered areas to take a hard look at which of those sites should be part of the park. And they would be included in the agreement that we are working on with the DOE that we hope to have out for public comment in the next month or so,” Knox said.

Sen. Cantwell sponsored the Senate bill to establish the Manhattan Project National Historical Park. The two government agencies responsible for establishing and maintaining the park have held public meetings to receive input on how the park should be developed at each site, including an April meeting in Richland.