The BRMA hosted the 60th anniversary of B Reactor going critical over the weekend of October 8th and 9th with a massive celebration. The event focused both on the exciting times that happened 60 years ago as the B Reactor and the Hanford site came to life, as well as B’s future as a museum for generations to come. The weekend included a myriad of activities including boat tours, the world premier showing of the Atomic Heritage Foundation film “Hanford’s Secret Wartime Mission: 1942-1945,” an exhibit and book signing reception at the Richland Community Center, reactor tours for nearly 400 people, and — the crown jewel — the 60th anniversary banquet with a post-dinner address by Pulitzer-prize winning author Richard Rhodes. The events were all very successful: A good time was had by all, and the case was made to ensure B’s future as a museum. The BRMA thanks our many sponsors including Bechtel Hanford, Washington Group International, Fluor Hanford, Battelle, Eberline Services Hanford and the Atomic Heritage Foundation for their sponsorships of the events.

From the control room

Del Ballard
President, BRMA

Wow! What a weekend! On October 8th and 9th we enjoyed the fruits of months of planning as we participated in the events both commemorating and celebrating the 60th anniversary of the B Reactor start-up. Coverage of all the successful events is included in various articles in this issue. All of the members of the planning committee are congratulated and I give them many thanks for their labors.

I would also like to thank the many BRMA volunteers who pitched in to make the many events so successful – their help is much appreciated. Very importantly, on behalf of all the BRMA members, I would also like to express our gratitude to the generous sponsors in our community whose contributions made the events possible. We thank Bechtel and Washington Group (co-presenting sponsors), Fluor Hanford (exhibit and reception sponsor), Battelle (boat tours sponsor), Eberline Services (bus tours sponsor) and the Atomic Heritage Foundation (general sponsor).

Several of our BRMA members who were early Hanford veterans got to see themselves in the new movie that received its premier showing at the Battelle auditorium on October 8th. Those interviews and the on-site scenes were made in April last year when a filming crew, contracted by the Atomic Heritage Foundation, was at Hanford. Copies of the film entitled, “Hanford’s Secret Wartime Mission: 1943-1945” are scheduled to be available for sale through the CREHST museum later this fall.

The BRMA extends our appreciation for the work done by our Washington state Congressional delegation in preparing and obtaining passage of the legislation for a National Park Service study on the B Reactor as a potential Park Site. The President’s signature on this act just two days prior to our 60th anniversary celebration was a grand piece of news, and very timely. Although this legislation represents a major step forward, there is much work to do. Funding for the study needs to be authorized, the actual work by the Park Service is to be done, and then there is the DOE-imposed date for cocooning the reactor (destroying it) to be dealt with.

We have recently engaged the Washington Park Commission by asking for their interest and support. At their Board meeting held in Richland on October 14, I presented a short summary of the B Reactor story and asked the Park Commission for a resolution expressing their support for preservation of our historic facility. This could be important to show statewide interest and enhancing the possibility of the state sharing an operating partnership with the National Park Service or the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Lastly I want to mention the great response we have received from our membership regarding payment of dues. Our membership chairman, Mel Finkbeiner, reports 93 members having recently paid dues for the year starting October 1st. Those still in arrears are being notified in this issue of the newsletter.

Bus Tours to Reactor – Let’s Roll!

Of the many events of the weekend, the B Reactor tours proved to be one of the most exciting. The reactor tours were led by BRMA veterans (see adjacent article). However, the bus tours to the reactor were equally exciting for the many participants, many of whom were visiting the Tri-Cities for the first time. The US DOE authorized the first bus, and two additional buses were sponsored by Eberline Service Hanford; BRMA thanks Eberline for sponsoring this fun event.

Real thanks also go to Todd Nelson and his team of co-workers at Bechtel who made the entire set of bus tours go seamlessly . Three buses were being cycled throughout the day for a total of nine loads – nearly 400 people got to enjoy the Hanford/reactor tour. The Bechtel team included the reactor crew of Cindy Jones, Don Eckert, Mike Caldwell, Clair Cochran and Peg Cochran who had the reactor in top shape for the tours. In the Bechtel front office, much work went into the web site, the registration, the badging, procuring the buses, security and signage – the BRMA thanks Scott Caldwell, Sandy Beck, Paula Rosenberger, Connie Galbreath, Trish Early, Kristi Poteet and Steve Foster. The communications team of John Crigler, Mark Zieske, Teri Farber and Todd Nelson deserve kudos for their efforts in organizing and marketing the event’s success.

The tours were not only scenic, but educational. A video was produced that briefly explained how a reactor works, and a little bit about the history of the B reactor in particular. BRMA members Wanda Munn and Connie Estep worked together with Carol Darley Videos to produce an excellent film entitled: “Beginnings: The B Reactor Story.”

B-Reactor Tours Impress Hundreds of Hanford Visitors

Roger Rohrbacher
Member and Senior Tour Guide, BRMA

Tours of the B-Reactor on Oct. 9th for our 60th Anniversary Celebration were an enormous success. We received many favorable comments. Several months ago there were some thoughts that the DOE public tours held earlier this year would reduce attendance for the October 9th tours. In fact, just the opposite happened! Nearly 400 people were able to tour the reactors, yet the tours were over-subscribed by about 200 people!!

The following tour guides did a great job for this event: Larry Denton, Connie Estep, Wally Greager, Carl Higby, Hank Kosmata, Norm Miller, Roger Rohrbacher, Bob Smith, Paul Vinther and Jim Williams. And, at the ready, were Art Martin and Bill McCullough as back-ups.

Additionally, Don Eckert of Bechtel and his crew did a great job in preparing the 105-B Building for this event. The BRMA also wants to thank our badged bus chaperones who accompanied the tour guests to the reactor. We thank Connie Estep, Richard Romanelli, Bob Potter, Sandy Thompson, Jana Strasburg, Gary Watkins, Alan Joly, Tom Blake and Barb Tarasevich. Thanks to everyone involved for a great job well done!

World Premier of AHF Film: “Hanford’s Secret Wartime Mission: 1943-1945”

Cindy Kelly, President
Atomic Heritage Foundation

On Friday evening, October 8th, 2004, the Atomic Heritage Foundation was pleased to premier its documentary film, “Hanford’s Secret Wartime Mission: 1943-1945.” Thanks to the B Reactor Museum Association, Battelle for the use of the Battelle auditorium, and the many volunteers involved in making the event a success. An estimated crowd of 200 to 250 attended the world premier of the film, and the response was very positive.

The documentary film tells the story of the Manhattan Project at Hanford, from the selection of the site to the successful production of plutonium in the B Reactor. First-hand accounts by Roger Rohrbacher, Steve Buckingham, Paul Vinther and other veterans as well as interviews with DuPont’s Crawford Greenewalt and Col. Frank Matthias help the history come alive. Interviews with members of the Yakama, Nez Perce and Wanapum tribes remind viewers of the dislocations caused by the Federal government’s taking over the land. Authors Michele Gerber, Roy Gephart and Robert Norris help explain the significance of the work at Hanford and its legacy. With documentary footage and photographs, the film recreates the incredible undertaking at Hanford to produce the plutonium used in the “Fat Man” bomb dropped on Nagasaki. The film is available on line at as well as at the CREHST Museum.

60th Anniversary Commemoration Dinner

Del Ballard, President
B Reactor Museum Association

The crown jewel of the weekend celebration was the very nice dinner Saturday evening and keynote speech by author Richard Rhodes. The banquet was held at the Shilo Inn in Richland with some 230 guests in attendance.

Due to the fact that Congress was still in session, our Washington delegation including Senators Cantwell and Murray along with Representative Doc Hastings were unable to attend. Representative Hastings provided a prepared video and each of the Senators had a delegate read prepared statements. All three legislators recognized the new law authorizing a study by the National Park Service and offered solid support for the preservation of, and public access to, the B Reactor.

Following welcoming comments from Del Ballard, BRMA, and introductions by Master of Ceremonies, Michael McDonnal, supporting comments were presented by Cindy Kelly, Atomic Heritage Foundation; Lt. Colonel Randy Glaeser, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Dr. Stephanie Toothman, National Park Service; and Kris Watkins, Tri-Cities Visitor and Convention Bureau. Keith Klein, U.S. Department of Energy also provided written comments supporting historic preservation.

A big welcome and recognition was given to the early Hanford workers who were veterans of the initial operation of the B Reactor and other Manhattan Project facilities. Attending were visitors from several states including NJ, DE, UT, GA, CA , MI, MN, WI, MT and others.

A resounding and thought-provoking speech was delivered after dinner by Dr. Richard Rhodes. Dr. Rhodes won the Pulitzer Prize for writing the book, “The Making of the Atomic Bomb” and has written numerous other prize-winning books. His keynote address is now posted on the BRMA site: Members are encouraged to review the address and share it with others as it makes the case for preservation of B Reactor and other such facilities in an interesting and convincing fashion.

60th Anniversary Exhibit and Book-signing Reception

Michele Gerber and Tim Johnson
Members, BRMA

An important part of the 60th Anniversary events was the public exhibit and book-signing held at the Richland Community Center. The event was graciously sponsored by Fluor Hanford and provided a public forum for exhibits by the many groups and agencies that are part of B reactor’s history or its future, along with that of Hanford and the Hanford Reach National Monument.

The RCC was nicely configured to allow several groups to exhibit. Along with BRMA, exhibitors included the US Army Corp of Engineers, US Department of Energy (DOE), CREHST – the Columbia River Exhibit on History, Science and Technology, the Hanford Reach National Monument Visitor’s Center, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and a joint exhibit by three agencies: 1) The National Park Service (NPS), 2) The Washington State Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, and 3) The Washington Trust for Historic Preservation.

Three Hanford authors also signed books at the exhibit; Roy Gephart (Hanford, A Conversation about Nuclear Waste and Cleanup), Michele Gerber (On the Home Front: The Cold War Legacy of the Hanford Nuclear Site), and Pulitzer-prize winning author Richard Rhodes (The Making of the Atomic Bomb, and others). Several books were sold and the signings were followed by a Fluor-sponsored reception honoring the B Reactor veterans and the history of the site.

Jet Boat Tours

Patsy Vinther
Member, BRMA

As part of the B reactor 60th anniversary events, the BRMA also wanted to help introduce some of our out-of-town guests to the other attractions the Tri-Cities has to offer. Columbia River Journeys Jet Boat tours graciously agreed to provide their services for the 60th Anniversary event, and Battelle kindly provided sponsorship for the jet boat tours. The event looked very promising as the CRJ fleet was filled to capacity – nearly sixty guests participated in the tours.

I (Patsy) was the BRMA host for the event and welcomed each passenger on behalf of B Reactor Museum Association, thanked them for coming and handed out the information packets. The weather was sunny, but quite cool and breezy. However, the guests seemed undaunted by that and were prepared for it. In talking to one of the guests a couple of days later I learned that it was a wonderful trip – she was really thrilled with it. It is safe to say that this was a successful part of the day’s activities.

The BRMA gratefully acknowledges support from Battelle for the event and thanks Columbia River Journeys for their fine services.