THE MODERATOR – Spring 2003

From the control room

Del Ballard
President, BRMA

I believe one of the principal duties of your President is to keep members informed of the current programs and activities underway by the organization’s leadership. The following is my approach to that end.

Early this year we identified four specific goals for this calendar year. These are either part of, or complementary to, the BRMA stated objectives, which include the preservation and conversion of the Reactor to a Public Museum. This year’s goals are: 1) Prepare the documents for nominating B Reactor as a National Historic Monument; 2) Pursue Authorization for National Park Service Lead; 3) Influence DOE to reinstate tours; and, 4) Obtain an extended contract to provide tour guide service for the new ER Contractor.

Gordon Rogers, who recently retired from his duties on the Hanford Advisory Board, has accepted the assignment to lead the effort to accomplish the first goal. Bechtel personnel had earlier started this work but that effort was discontinued when DOE terminated all financial support. Approval of such a nomination must pass through the owner (DOE) and finally the United States Congress. Just consider the impact such a designation would have on tourism and the local economy!

Regarding our second goal, our friends at Fish and Wildlife (who are the managers of the Columbia Reach Monument – an entirely different entity than a National Historic Monument) have indicated that they would welcome the National Park Service (NPS) as a neighbor and as the operator of a museum. BRMA members, and others, have made several contacts with our federal delegation requesting legislation to authorize and fund the NPS. Positive – verbal only – responses have been received from the offices of Doc Hastings and Maria Cantwell. The latest contact was a meeting with Doc on April 4, arranged by Madeleine Brown. Doc indicated he was in support of our requests and that the timing was right for including this in the fiscal FY04 budget. The initial activity for the NPS would be to perform their “feasibility report” on the site, which we believe would be a “slam dunk” since so much documentation and support has already been put in place. The effort to obtain the necessary legislation will continue to be pursued: BRMA members are urged to assist.

The Atomic Heritage Foundation, under the leadership of Cindy Kelly, is planning a Richland meeting to explore recommendations for an interim Report to Congress on how best to preserve the Manhattan Project history, focusing on the significant remaining properties. As a part of that meeting the Park Service has been invited to address the process for creating a National Park unit at Hanford. Hopefully this will be a giant step forward in support of our efforts to gain Park Service involvement in the B Reactor preservation. Of course, federal authorization and funding are probably still the major controlling factors in this effort. Details of the Atomic Heritage Effort can be found on the next page.

Regarding the reinstatement of public tours to the reactor, we are again up against the raised national security alert situation. With the advent of the war in Iraq and the “HIGH” terror alert, the DOE has again cancelled any tours, including the one organized by Mr. Tim Cowan. Of course, no one can predict the duration of this situation and, as our good friend and B- Czar at Bechtel states, since “we cannot bring the people to the reactor, we must bring the reactor to the people”. This is the motivation behind a current effort to develop some polished presentations to a wide range of groups, from governmental entities to civic and technical groups, students, historians, and others. Again, herein lies a great need for help from our members.

Finally, our sub-contract from Bechtel to provide tour guides remains in place, including a recent $1400 supplement. If and when the Bechtel Environmental Restoration contract in renewed or reassigned, we hope to be able to obtain a new or extended contract for such tour service.

Atomic Heritage Foundation update

Information provided by Cindy Kelly
Atomic Heritage Foundation

The Atomic Heritage Foundation is developing plans for a meeting in Richland to explore recommendations for an interim Report to Congress on how best to preserve the Manhattan Project history, focusing on the significant remaining properties, the costs of preservation, as well as the long-term stewardship issues. We hope that Keith Klein (DOE-RL) will be able to attend at least the end of the meeting and hear the recommendations of the group. We plan to have an interim Report to present to Congress in June.

The planned meeting in Richland is being modeled on the agenda after a successful meeting we had in Oak Ridge on March 26 and 27, 2003. Gwen Leth has volunteered CREHST’s meeting facilities although we may have to reserve a larger space, perhaps the Red Lion Inn, depending upon the expected attendance. If you have any ideas for the agenda, whom to invite, or other suggestions, please let me know. It is an ambitious agenda for one-and-one-half days, but at Oak Ridge we were able to make some good progress and commission a group to provide a detailed “White Paper” for further review.

The Atomic Heritage Foundation has come up with a proposed agenda for the meeting at Hanford, along with a letter to Keith Klein, and results of the Oak Ridge meeting. The agenda and the overall format of the meeting are still being drawn up at the time of printing of the present issue of the Moderator.

Interested parties may find a preliminary draft of the Report to Congress at the following web site: www.atomicheritage.org/Plan.doc. Further information about the Oak Ridge meeting and other things that the Atomic Heritage Foundation is doing to preserve the history of the Manhattan Project may also be found on the web site, www.atomicheritage.org. For example, the AHF has developed a proposal for a National Traveling Exhibit on the Manhattan Project that is pending before the NEH and NSF and is exploring various broadcasting station’s interest in a mini-series on the Manhattan Project. Ideally, both projects would be available to the public by June 2005.

The BRMA looks forward to welcoming Ms. Kelly to the Tri-Cities and for a productive meeting as to the future of the B reactor.

What’s new at the B Reactor?

Project Update for January – March 2003

Dru Butler, B-Reactor Project Manager
Bechtel Hanford

The B Reactor Project continues to make progress on completion of the hazard mitigation upgrades that are specified in the 2001 Engineering Evaluation and Cost Analysis. The fire protection improvements have been completed, including the addition of emergency lighting along the tour route and improved exit routes to the outside of the building. Lighting inside of the fuel storage basin has also been improved and provides a better view for visitors.

The encapsulation of lead paint and asbestos tiles has been completed, the floors have been polished and the walls have been cleaned in the flow lab/machine maintenance room and the worker lunchroom. The rooms are now ready to become part of the tour route. The idea of using these rooms to provide meeting space or to stage exhibits has been discussed.

The Control Room and the Accumulator Room have been painted and the floors have been cleaned and polished. The B Reactor Crew has also cleaned and restored the small office outside of the control room. Pictured below are members of the B Reactor Crew including Lorene Chappell, Heavy Operator and Annette Howell, Radiation Control Technician. The B Reactor Crew take special care with the B Reactor, often finding creative ways to preserve the historic look of the building and it’s contents while meeting strict clean up requirements.

Higher Security

The high security level on the Hanford Reservation has limited tours of the B Reactor. Tim Cowan of Yost Grube Hall Architecture planned an inclusive tour of local interests and media for those having a stake in the preservation of B Reactor. Sadly, this tour had to be postponed twice. When security levels permit, DOE-RL will reschedule this event. Representatives from BRMA are included in this tour group.

Many Successful B-Reactor Tours

There were several successful tours that took place and were supported by BRMA this quarter; including Bechtel Hanford Radiation Control. The photo below shows tour guide Carl Higby providing information and amusement to a group of Bechtel Hanford Radiation Control Managers on March 26.

There were several other successful tours of the historic B reactor during the winter months including PNNL and Bechtel Hanford Waste Management and Transportation.

“Old” Glory has proud “new” home

Mr. and Mrs. Everett Weakley, BRMA members, donated a vintage, 48-star American flag to BRMA for display at the B Reactor. This flag is the type that flew over B Reactor in it’s early days, including during the end of WW II, just after completion of the reactor.

This flag was used to honor Mrs. Weakley’s father, Mr. Joseph Kritzer, at his funeral in 1958. Mr. Kritzer was a WW I veteran and later worked at Hanford. The flag was flown at B Reactor on March 26, 2003 and, according to the wishes of the Weakley family, will be flown only on special occasions in order to preserve its integrity.

48-star American flag donated by the Weakley family was flown at B Reactor on March 26, 2003.

What’s been going on since January 2003

An unofficial log of happenings from BRMA leaders

1/7 Del Ballard attended the meeting held by the Hanford Reach advisory committee. Very long and controversial discussions centered on detailed wording in the Vision Statement and Goals which will be included in the 15 year Plan for management of the Monument. Future interpretation of words like “protect” and “manage” could easily have significant long range impacts relative to public access or use of a B Reactor Museum, which will be either on, or in very close proximity to, the Monument.

1/8 BRMA Board meeting held at Del’s house.

1/10 Lyle and Del attended a meeting with the Oral Histories Group Presentation give by Jim Watts on progress by the “Friends of the Reach”. They are developing a large project for a fancy Cultural/Interpretive Center in Richland.

1/13 Del discussed with Tom Marceau the advisability of submitting a nomination/request for congressional recognition of B Reactor as a National Historic Landmark. Tom indicated that the DOE Historian, Skip Gosling, does not believe that such a request is advisable at this time, and DOE funding was withdrawn for such work. My question, “not advisable” for whom?

1/13 BRMA membership meeting held at Richland Public Library. 25 in attendance. Excellent report give by Dru Butler on clean-up/fix-up work being done by Bechtel at the reactor.

1/29 DOE and other Tri-Party Agencies held a Public Information Meeting on the State of the Hanford Site. Del spoke briefly to thank DOE and Bechtel for progress to date and to request that DOE extend current plans and requirements for maintaining/preserving B Reactor to the new Environmental Restoration contractor.

1/30 Del spoke to Jeff Markey of Doc Hastings’ office regarding authorization and funding for the National Park Service (for “museum” related work). Jeff stated that Representative Hastings is working to first gain the needed authorization and then to request congressional approval for the funds, but that as such it’s not in the ‘03 budget. Looks like ‘04 before we can expect this action.

1/30 Roger leads a tour of PNNL staff at the reactor. Some 15 Battelle employees attended, including Tim Johnson, our new Moderator Editor. We thank Lou Turner for recalling his early day experiences on the Manhattan project.

2/6 Lyle, Hank, and Del met with Benton County staff members, Adam Fyall and Gary Ballew, to update them on activities and the perceived long term future for B reactor. The county is actively planning for “life after DOE” on the Hanford lands. They strongly support the creation of a museum operated by the National Park Service.

2/10 Regular monthly meeting of the B Reactor Museum Association with 25 in attendance. Everett Weakley presented his Uncle’s WWII 48 star flag to Bechtel for display on special occasions.

2/12 Hank K. received letter from Doc Hastings in response to his letter encouraging National Park service participation in B Reactor.

2/13 B Reactor tour by Bechtel “downtown” office personnel. Roger and Larry served as guides.

2/21 Tour arranged by Tim Cowan, architect from Portland, for local dignitaries, was cancelled by DOE at noon on 2/20 due to the nation’s “high security” alert.

2/21 Dr. Melvin Finkbeiner, Minister Emeritus, of Central United Church, submitted an short history summary, entitled “HOW THE CHURCHES BEGAN”, of the early Hanford days church community. He suggested this could be a subject for additional Oral History recordings.

2/27 Held BRMA Board Meeting at Lyle and Madeleine’s house. Discussed and agreed to goals for the year. First yearly operating budget established for BRMA.

3/10 Held the March regular monthly membership meeting, 23 in attendance.

3/11 Lyle and Del attended a planning meeting organized by the State Historical Preservation Office. They were seeking public input on preservation objectives and methods.

4/3 Dru Butler organized and chaired a meeting to plan the preparation of outreach tools (presentations) that will be available to give to various target audiences. Four BRMA members attended and several PowerPoint type slide shows were planed.

4/4 Madeline, Del, Hank, and Tim met with Doc Hastings to refresh and restate our request for legislation to authorize and fund the National Park Service to perform their initial study for operation of a museum at B Reactor. Doc indicated support for the venture and suggested we broaden the knowledge and base of support (outreach within the state).

Critical Mass

Welcome to the our newest member who joined BRMA just this past month:

K.W. Greager, Kennewick, WA
Any and all BRMA members are encouraged to get others to join our organization to assist in the effort to get B reactor turned into a museum (and National Historic Monument!)

THE MODERATOR via e-mail

In order to reduce BRMA costs and to increase the delivery efficiency, THE MODERATOR will begin distribution via email with the next issue. All BRMA members for whom we have a valid email address will receive the next issue as a Microsoft Word attachment.