THE MODERATOR – Fall 2005

From the control room

Michele Gerber
President, BRMA

Summer 2005 absolutely surpassed all of our expectations for positive publicity opportunities, networking, and advancing the cause of preserving B Reactor! We played an active role in the major news stories covering the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II. Our members Dee McCullough, Roger Rohrbacher, Larry Denton, Watson Warriner and Michele Gerber appeared in front page stories in the Seattle Times, Spokane Spokesman Review, and Tri-City Herald on August 7, 8 and 9; and B Reactor itself was featured in a special spread in the Travel section of the Portland Oregonian on July 17th.

In one especially memorable presentation to the Daybreak Rotary Club on August 25, the club invited and honored Dee, Roger and Larry for their contributions to WWII Hanford. All of BRMA’s summer publicity, tours, and speeches are listed in a column by Publicity Director Sally Ann Potter, on page 5. As always, we try to leverage the past to serve our present goal – always weaving the B Reactor preservation message into any story, interview, or feature about history.

Our draft nomination for B Reactor to be a National Historic Landmark went forward to the National Park Service (NPS). The National Historic Landmark nomination is an important first-step in the whole NPS process of studying B Reactor for preservation as part of the Manhattan Project District Historic Act. Feedback from the NPS now shows us that we have some minor modifications to make in the Landmark nomination. We hope to make those modifications this autumn, and get the final nomination back into the NPS system quickly.

Congressman Hastings, a big supporter of B Reactor preservation, inserted two parcels of funding for B Reactor into the House version of the fiscal year 2006 federal budget. So far, $250,000 has been appropriated to the Department of the Interior for the NPS feasibility study for preserving B Reactor. This amount of money will surely keep the study alive in 2006…while we work for more funding for 2007!

The one million dollars that Congressman Hastings proposed to go to DOE for upkeep, maintenance and repairs to B Reactor has not yet been voted on by the Congress. The vote should come this autumn, and hopefully the funds will be appropriated and can be used for a new roof for B Reactor, plus general maintenance.

In August, BRMA formed a Task Team to look at historical exhibit options. The Team, led by Tim Johnson, is functioning now with about one dozen BRMA members. It will complete its report in October. (For more, see column on Task Team).

In September, we helped host the Atomic Heritage Foundation and a representative of the Murdock Charitable Trust, who visited this area to review the plans of the Richland Public Facilities District for building the Hanford Reach National Monument Visitor and Heritage Center (the “Reach Center”) at Columbia Point, and our plans for exhibiting history at B Reactor. The visit seemed very successful, but we have to wait for the verdict. If the Murdock Trust grants funds to the Atomic Heritage Foundation to develop historical exhibits about Hanford, those exhibits can be shared and displayed at B Reactor, CRESHT and the Reach Center. We continue to see the Reach Center as a possible operating partner for B Reactor in future tourism.

Later in September, I briefed the Boards of Directors of both TRIDEC and the Tri-Cities Visitor and Convention Bureau on BRMA’s recent efforts and progress. Building alliances and staying close to these key organizations is very important to us in our overall networking strategy. We’ll get much farther as a “big team” representing Hanford and the Tri-Cities than we ever can on our own.

In conclusion, we are having a dynamic year, and BRMA is becoming a central part of community planning. We’re out there speaking and presenting our message, and being heard. Thanks to all of you for your continued support and hard work. lattice.gif (880 bytes)

Task Team for Exhibits

A task team was recently formed composed of about a dozen BRMA members. The team is to come up with a list of suggestions / requests for proposed exhibits. The recommendation will be made as a proposal to the Richland Public Facilities District (PFD), which is responsible for the design, building & operation of the Hanford Reach National Monument&Interpretive Center.

The recommendations will be made in context of what has already been proposed for the Reach Center, with the exhibits being designed by Hilferty and Associates. To that end, the Hilferty designs for the “Reach” were reviewed; in particular the permanent exhibit entitled “The Land Transformed” which focuses on changes that took place at Hanford starting with the Manhattan Project through the present day.

Bob Potter gave a brief presentation to the task team that greatly helped define our mission. After some discussion, the task team is narrowing down what it would like to present as proposal(s) for the exhibits. One open question is whether we should aim for exhibits that are designed for use at B Reactor, at the Reach, or possibly as touring exhibits, or all of the above. The general leaning appears to be we should seek something that is useful at B Rx, particularly something useful for the tour guides in the short term.

The general consensus is that Hilferty has done an excellent job in “doing their homework” to design the Reach exhibits. Although not required for the proposal, it was suggested that BRMA gently proffer its services to Hilferty, particularly in the area of “fact checking” some of the many technical nuances associated with nuclear facilities – a few hours of BRMA time could be make for a more effective exhibit, both for the Reach and for BRMA. BRMA would like to foster a good relationship with the Reach so that each can encourage tourism at the other.

We would also suggest moving the “Top Secret” exhibit to such a location such that the viewer must peruse this section first. The “Top Secret” exhibit should cast the reason for Hanford in both its historical and scientific context: What BRMA may put forth as a proposal currently includes three suggestions:

  1. A “timeline” exhibit for historical context.
  2. A physical 3D instructional model of a reactor (e.g. a 3 foot cube with moving parts such as fuel rods) for use at B / The Reach.
  3. A virtual 3D instructional model of a reactor (e.g. CAD drawing with interactive capabilities to highlight certain sections) for use at B Reactor / The Reach.

Of these 2 and 3 seem to be favorites. Most of us would like both 2and 3, but it may be redundant to have a physical model right next to virtual model. It should be noted that Hilferty already plans include a reactor model as part of the exhibit, so there is clear synergy here – e.g. build 2 for the price of 1 or some such. More work is underway to determine relative and approximate costs of 2 and 3 to aid in the proposal i.e. help us weigh the pros/cons. lattice.gif (880 bytes)

DOE Deputy Secretary visits “B”

clay_sellOn August 17, 2005, Energy Deputy Secretary Clay Sell toured B Reactor as part of his Hanford Site visit. He called B Reactor “easily the highlight” of his trip to Hanford, and declared that “I think it [B Reactor] should be saved.”

BRMA hopes to welcome Deputy Secretary Sell to Hanford again.

Photo caption: Deputy Secretary of Energy Clay Sell along with BRMA President Michele Gerber in the Control Room at “B”.

The Reach Exhibit Space in Perspective

Special Guest Article by Burt Vaughn
President, Richland Public Facilities District

A number of people have questioned me about the apparent small space allocated to the Manhattan Project, and with it, B Reactor exhibits. In reality Manhattan Project-related developments comprise 40 per cent of the museum space in The Reach Heritage & Visitor Center. At 61,000 square feet, the Center seems like a massive facility. It is indeed a large building, but, in keeping with its mission to celebrate and learn about the Hanford Reach and larger Columbia Basin, The Reach provides space for many other purposes apart from its museum function.

As designed, The Reach Center has three levels:

  1. The approximately 38,000-square-foot Main Level encompasses the Visitor Welcome Area-the Great Hall, gift shop, café, public restrooms, and storage-the Exhibition Halls-the White Bluffs Theatre, Permanent Exhibit Gallery, and Temporary Exhibit Gallery-and Collections Management, which comprises staff & docent lounge, shipping & receiving, and collections management space. The 8,000 square-foot Education Wing also is located on the Main Level. It includes an auditorium, two classrooms, a Discovery Room, an office, restrooms, and storage.
  2. The approximately 5,600-square-foot Upper Level will house an administrative suite and a view mezzanine as well as a mechanical room.
  3. The Lower Level, 9,400 square feet, will house storage, the central plant, a boiler/sprinkler room, electrical room, and other rooms necessary for building operation and maintenance.

Permanent Exhibits: The Manhattan Project and Cold War

The Permanent Exhibit Gallery encompasses approximately 11,000 square feet of the total 61,000-square-foot facility. This space is divided into the White Bluffs Orientation Theatre and five exhibit areas: The Land Takes Form, Living on the Land, Fast Forward, The Land Transformed, and Saving the Reach. The Land Transformed focuses on the many stories of the Manhattan Project and Cold War, and with 3,500 square feet for exhibits, it comprises 40 percent of the permanent gallery space.

The Land Transformed Gallery immerses visitors in the power, scale, and urgency of the Manhattan Project and its lasting global impacts. Visitors begin to experience the Manhattan Project when they enter the Hanford Construction Camp Theatre through a reproduction gate with barbed wire fencing. A guardhouse stands near the gate opposite a panel with a Declaration of Secrecy that visitors are asked to sign. Visitor signatures are recorded for only a brief moment on a pressure pad before disappearing. Inside the space, huge images of the construction site convey the scale of building the world’s first nuclear reactor while topical exhibits interpret the science, engineering, logistics, and daily life of the Hanford Engineer Works.

Architectural and Exhibit Planning Sessions

Richland Public Facilities District (RPFD) has funded, to date, all architectural and exhibit planning for the Center. The Reach organization represents founding partners, who directly supported RPFD in building the initial funding base for the Center. They participated in the planning sessions, as did several members of the BRMA Board, who attended at least three of the 2-day sessions. BRMA’s representatives were invited –as were our founding partners– to solicit their respective organizations for critical comments on the themes and exhibit plans finally adopted.

We view exhibit designs at this point as only 85% complete with future development anticipated. We also see B Reactor as a significant component among the attractions that visitors to the Center might further explore. Much remains to be done in the year ahead, and I want to thank Michelle Gerber, particularly, for initiating joint efforts at new funding for exhibit activities of mutual interest. lattice.gif (880 bytes)

Excellent Summer Publicity

Sally Ann Potter
Chair, Public Relations and Publicity

BRMA’s Speakers Bureau had a very active summer. We have been telling our important B Reactor story using a power point presentation on our new laptop computer and projector. On 2 August Michele Gerber spoke to the Richland Rotary. Bob and Sally Ann Potter spoke to the Columbia Center Rotary Club on 11 August, to the Riverside Rotary on 15 August, and Tri-Cities Industries Kiwanis Club on 19 August. On 25 August Michele spoke to the Daybreak Rotary Club and took along Roger Rohrbacher, Larry Denton and Dee McCullough, who were recognized by the club for their contribution to the Manhattan Project and their many years of dedicated service.

On 22 September Michele made presentations to the Boards of Directors to the Tri-Cities Industrial Development Council (TRIDEC) and the Tri-Cities Visitors and Convention Bureau. She was able to discuss with these two very important groups of Tri-City leaders the importance of preserving B, and the benefits and contributions of B Reactor to the future of heritage tourism in the Tri-Cities region.

BRMA also received excellent publicity in the regional electronic and print media during the summer. Michele and Bob & Sally Ann were interviewed on KONA on 21 July and 12 August, respectively. The Sunday Oregonian, Spokesman Review, Seattle PI, and the Tri-City Herald all ran feature articles in July and August on the end of WW II that included a discussion of the role of B Reactor and statements from members Dee McCullough, Larry Denton, Roger Rohrbacher, and Michele Gerber. lattice.gif (880 bytes)

Visit by M. J. Murdock Trust program manager to evaluate proposal for B Reactor exhibits

Sally Ann Potter
Chair, Public Relations and Publicity

b_tour_09072005On Wednesday, September 7, 2005, BRMA and the Richland Public Facilities District hosted a visit by Dr. John Van Zytveld, Program Director for the M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust, and Cindy Kelly, President of the Atomic Heritage Foundation. The visit to B Reactor, CREHST, and the site of the new Hanford Reach Heritage and Visitor Center (The REACH) on Columbia Point was part of the evaluation of an Atomic Heritage Foundation $350,000 grant proposal to the Murdock Trust. The grant would fund B Reactor exhibits; oral histories, vignettes and documentary films; and educational material that would be used at B Reactor and at The Reach, and at CREHST until The REACH is opened in 2008. The purpose of the visit was for Dr. Van Zytveld to evaluate first hand B Reactor as a viable museum/exhibit, the status of the design and construction of The REACH, and to determine the feasibility of B Reactor being operated by The REACH as an interpreted historical exhibit, as described in the Atomic Heritage Foundation proposal.

b_tour_09072005.jpg (42295 bytes)
By all indications Dr. Van Zytveld was positively impressed with what he saw and heard during his visit. The Murdock Trust decision on the Atomic Heritage Foundation proposal is expected in early 2006.

Photo caption: Visitors to B Reactor on September 7, 2005, were (from left) Cindy Kelly of the Atomic Heritage Foundation, BRMA President Michele Gerber, John Van Zytveld of the Murdock Trust, Bob Potter, Sally Ann Potter, Eric Gerber, Ron Hicks, Director, Reach Visitor Center and Gwen Leth, Director, CREHST. lattice.gif (880 bytes)