Message from the President

There have certainly been some interesting developments this summer.

First and foremost, John Wagoner has specifically stated the goal of converting B Reactor into a museum within the next ten years. The goal is a line item in a viewgraph that was used earlier this summer to present the DOE-RL budget/Ten-Year Plan to Al Alm, the undersecretary of environmental management at DOE.

Second, DOE-RL has a specific individual, Steve Sandlin, who volunteered to be the project lead for B Reactor. I have talked to Mr. Sandlin, and he is very excited about the prospects.

Perhaps the most far-reaching of the developments this summer has been the concept of a tour train. This train would originate in Richland, and wind its way through the Hanford Site to terminate at B Reactor. Customers would return either by train or, during summer months, perhaps by jet boat along the Columbia River. The jet boats would also bring tourists upriver to B Reactor, to return to town by train.

These concepts emerged during a meeting earlier this summer with officials of the Port of Benton, Burlington Northern, and representatives of the Washington State Railroads Historical Society.

Our own Don Sandberg is heavily involved with these folks, who are working hard to preserve railroad rolling stock and equipment to make the train trip a reality. Don does an outstanding job of representing us and the train preservation group.

Further, this fits well with the synergistic relationship we have been discussing with the CREHST museum people. Site tours would be promoted by, and perhaps would originate from, the CREHST museum at its new location on Columbia Point.

Many pieces need to fall into place before all this happens, and it will take a great deal of work by a lot of people. But the idea meets with enthusiastic response from everyone who hears about it. I urge all of you to find out what you can do to help realize this goal.

Lyle Wilhelmi and I met with Michele Gerber and Tom Marceau at B Reactor several weeks ago. Mr. Marceau is responsible for cultural and historical artifact preservation on the Site. We discussed, among other things, what it would take to open up areas in B Reactor which are not now accessible to the public.

We also discussed the need to preserve as much of the “ambience” surrounding B Reactor as possible. The recent felling of two water tanks near C Reactor is viewed as unfortunate.

There’s still no progress on carving the large granite blocks obtained from DOE, but we are working on getting Jim Acord to produce some preliminary artwork and an estimate for the program.

The pace of progress is quickening. Please support us with your time, interest and talents as you can. It is important!

Jerry Woodcock

BRMA Board Members

President: Jerry Woodcoock
Vice President: Jim Stoffels
Secretary: Pam Novak
Treasurer: Roger Rohrbacher

Committee Chairs

Fund Raising: (vacant)
Health, Safety, & Engineering: Del Ballard
History, Artifacts, & Exhibits: Lyle Wilhelmi
Membership: Joe Hedges
Public Relations: Jim Thornton
Editor: Gene Weisskopf

Hanford Retirees Hear B Reactor Story

Jim Stoffels

A luncheon meeting of Hanford retirees on September 19 was treated to a talk and slide show on “B Reactor: The World’s First” by BRMA co-founder and Vice President, Jim Stoffels.

Jim’s half-hour presentation covered the history of the Manhattan Project and B Reactor’s role in it. The talk was punctuated with interesting and humorous anecdotes of life at Hanford during the wartime construction and operation.

The event at the Tower Inn drew a full house of 151 attendees. Included were two officials of Fluor Daniel Corporation, the new contractor that assumed control over management and integration of Hanford operations on October 1.

I remember going down the street in Pasco that night. I said to the driver (this was in December, 1943) “What’s all this white stuff? You’ve gotten snow here already?” Well, the place had had a horrible dust storm, and you could see the tire tracks on the street. And he said, “Oh, it’s just a little dust on the street; we had a little windstorm last night.”
Blake Miller
BRMA Oral History (6/8/93)

History and Development of the Radiation Warning Symbol

Roger Rohrbacher

Tri-foil radiation warning symbolThe origins of the magenta and yellow tri-foil design of the radiation warning symbol are somewhat hidden in the mists of time. No single person or institution can lay claim to this symbol that is an everyday sight at Hanford.

Early radiation protection efforts began about a year after the discovery of x-rays by Roentgen in 1895. These invisible rays that can pass through solid material were received with great interest by scientists and the general public. Physicists and laymen set up x-ray generating equipment with no concern for potential dangers.

No previous experience indicated that x-rays would be hazardous. Since symptoms did not immediately follow exposure, the widespread use of x-rays led to injury.

Nevertheless, from about 1925 to 1945, radiation protection developed as the science of health physics. The name came from the Manhattan Project, and may have come partly from the need for secrecy, as well as the fact that physicists were actually working on radiation safety.

It was during the Manhattan Project that many of the modern concepts and advances in radiation safety came to maturity. The Hanford Engineer Works (now Hanford Site) played a major role in this area.

Skull and crossbones and radioactiveEarly shipping labels on packages of radioactive material bore the skull and crossbones with the word Radioactive. These labels had been standardized by the Bureau of Explosives, Interstate Commerce Commission and the Civil Aeronautics Board. Later, the skull and crossbones were changed to a cloud with lightning in an effort to reflect the different hazard potential of radioactive materials, such as gamma radiation.

One story has the radiation symbol developing from an electrical warning signal, with three lightning bolts emanating from a red dot.

Yet another version comes from work at the Lawrence Berkeley Lab during 1946. They wanted to standardize on something to indicate radiation hazards. Many in the Health Chemistry Group helped sketch out various symbols. Some of these were not unlike the tri-foil arrangement used today.

A radiation warning symbol, something like the current design, may have its roots in the isotope program at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The first shipment using this symbol was made in August, 1946. About 1947, the tri-foil design (with purple on a pale blue background) came to Oak Ridge, perhaps from Berkeley.

During the late 1940s, various individuals and organizations were interested in the idea of a standardized symbol for radiation warning. These included the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), the U.S. Public Health Service, and the National Bureau of Standards. A number of meetings were held to consider adopting a uniform symbol.

The tri-foil design using magenta on a yellow background was approved by the American Standards Association (now the American National Standards Institute, ANSI), in September, 1953. In 1954, the AEC developed a draft of Title 10, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 20 (10CFR20). This was adopted in final form in 1957, describing the symbol as used today.

The rest of the story of a 20th century danger sign is well known, especially by those who have ever worked at the Hanford Site. The symbol is all over the earth, on the moon, and even in outer space.

Thanks to the following for their assistance:

Ron Kathren, USTUR/WSU, Richland, WA
Dan Strom, PNNL, Richland, WA
Paul Frame, ORNL, Oak Ridge, TN