Democratic News

Nov 10 2015

Cantwell: ‘Including Hanford’s B Reactor as Part of the National Park Service Is a Fitting Honor’

Sen. Cantwell Participates in the Interior Department’s Signing Ceremony for the Manhattan Project National Historical Park

Watch archived video of the event here.

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, joined her Senate colleagues and the Secretaries of Energy and the Interior at a signing ceremony for the Manhattan Project National Historical Park. The law authorizing the park required the two secretaries sign a Memorandum of Agreement before establishing the park. This signing clears the way for the dedication of the park on Thursday at the Hanford B Reactor in the state of Washington.

More than 70 years ago, the Manhattan Project was established, which would stretch the known limits of science and change the world as we know it.  Hanford, Wash., was selected to be part of the Manhattan Project as a nuclear reactor site in 1943. The historic B Reactor was the first full-scale nuclear reactor ever built, and it took just 11 months to be constructed.

“The Manhattan Project is an important chapter in our nation’s history,” Sen. Cantwell said. “The Manhattan Project National Historical Park will allow people from all over the world to visit firsthand these scientific achievements.”

Establishing the Manhattan Project National Historical Park will allow people from around the world to visit and learn about the scientific achievements that took place at Hanford. Elevating the B Reactor’s status to a National Historical Park will ensure that it won’t be torn down and that this part of our collective history won’t be lost for generations to come.

Senator Cantwell has spent more than 12 years advocating for the historic preservation of Hanford’s B Reactor, working with the local constituencies in the Tri-Cities area. She sponsored bipartisan legislation and passed laws to study the potential for protecting the reactor and to create the Manhattan Project National Historical Park. Sen. Cantwell will be at the Hanford B Reactor on Thursday to formally establish the site as part of the National Park System.

Read Sen. Cantwell’s full statement below:

“Thank you Vic [Knox] for your leadership and for your commitment to this project. That turnabout is fair play. I do want to say that it only took 11 months to get the B Reactor constructed, but it’s taken us 11 years to get to today to signing the joint agreement.

“We are thrilled to be here. And I want to thank Secretary Jewell and Secretary Moniz along with Park Director Jarvis, signing what is a historic agreement between the Department of the Interior and the Department of Energy on commemorating what is part of our nation’s scientific history.

“This agreement establishes for the first time this park as part of our National Historic Park system.

“It was more than 70 years ago that the Manhattan Project was established, which stretched the scientific limits of our country. As part of the project, Hanford, Washington was selected as a nuclear reactor site in 1943. The historic B Reactor was the first full-scale nuclear plutonium production reactor ever built and it took just 11 months to construct it.

“That scientific achievement should be documented. The Manhattan Project is such an important chapter in our nation’s history and played such a vital role in our country’s history.

“So including the B Reactor as well as the other parts of the historic site around the Tri-Cities will make sure that we commemorate these groundbreaking engineering achievements, which are important to all American workers.

“The Manhattan Project National Historical Park will allow people from all over the world to visit firsthand these scientific achievements. Just a little note: because we had a temporary site there, more than 10,000 people from 30 different countries have already visited, so we are well on our way.  

“By elevating the B Reactor to National Historical Park status, this scientific achievement will be there forever. Importantly, not only will the National Historical Park tell the story about the B Reactor, but it will also shed light on what life was like in the Tri-Cities during that time by preserving the Hanford High School, the White Bluffs Bank, the Hanford Irrigation District’s Allard Pump House and the Bruggemann Agricultural Warehouse.

“So I am proud to be here with my 3 colleagues to commemorate this, Senators Alexander, Heinrich and Udall. I also want to mention my former colleague Doc Hastings who played a key role in this, who I think I’ll be seeing later this week in the Tri-Cities as well.

“But I want to thank members of the B Reactor Museum Association who fought tirelessly to preserve the B Reactor; Kris Watkins and Visit Tri-Cities; former Richland Mayor John Fox; Richland Mayor David Rose; West Richland Mayor Brent Gerry; Kennewick City Councilman Bob Thompson; Colleen French, the Department of Energy’s Manhattan Project National Historical Park Program Manager; Carl Adrian and Gary Peterson and TRIDEC; and many of those in the Tri-Cities who have worked tirelessly on making this park a reality. Again thank you so much to the Department of the Interior and the Department of Energy for working on this first-ever collaborative to make a national historic park so many more people can understand this chapter in U.S. history. Thank you all very much.”

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