THE MODERATOR – Spring 2005

From the control room

Michele Gerber
President, BRMA

2005 has been an intensely busy year so far for BRMA, and we are making many important gains towards our goal of preserving B Reactor. The Board, along with some special invited guests from outside of BRMA, held a retreat in January to identify and discuss strategic plans. Out of that gathering many ideas emerged. We formed a Government Action Committee (GAC) under Bob Bowersock, to work on specific ways to stay in touch with our legislators and their staff members, and to keep our cause and our needs in front of them. The GAC has met twice so far. We also identified ways to partner with the city of Richland in working with the Hanford Site River Corridor contractor, and with the new Hanford Reach National Monument Heritage and Visitor Center. Hank Kosmata has stayed close to the “Reach” Museum planning process, and is working with those folks to obtain some B Reactor exhibits before the “Reach” Museum opens in 2008.

One of my important goals this year was to lobby to secure funding for the National Park Service’s Manhattan Project Study Act that was passed by Congress and signed by President Bush last autumn. We have stayed close to the NPS folks in Seattle by phone and e-mail, and Bob and Sally Ann Potter recently met with them. Bob also pulled together a bibliography of all the documents that have been written about B Reactor, and made a CD of the ones that were accessible electronically. He then sent this information to the NPS, as well as copies of paper documents not available electronically, and the NPS folks were most grateful. In meetings with the NPS and others in Washington, DC, in March, it became clear that the documentation about B Reactor that we supplied to the NPS is more extensive than that which has been provided by any other Manhattan Project site. This fact positions us well to have the B Reactor study come together easily and quickly for the NPS. (Read more about the March meetings in Washington, DC, in columns by AHF President Cindy Kelly and by the Potters.)

In terms of publicity, many developments have occurred. We have developed a new PowerPoint presentation, with much of the work done by Bob and Sally Ann Potter, to showcase the safety of the tour route already established in the reactor. Erico Guizzo, a reporter from Spectrum magazine (published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) visited us in January, and had a reactor tour with Roger Rohrbacher and Del Ballard. Erico has written a major article with photos, now published in the April edition of Spectrum. We’ll have a few copies soon to circulate among interested members. B Reactor also was the subject of a one-page article in the Washington State University magazine Universe, an article in the Fluor Hanford newsletter, and an article in the Fluor corporate “News Online.” Sally Ann has issued three press releases, one of which announced the formation of a BRMA Speakers Bureau. We’ll use the new presentation, along with the wonderful existing booklets developed by members, and a new tri-fold publication developed by Sally Ann, to respond to requests for information and speeches by community groups.

Here are a few more key developments in the past three months:

  • DOE’s Richland Operations Office sent a letter to BRMA assuring us that it will not finalize its EE/CA (Engineering Evaluation and Cost Analysis) on B Reactor’s disposition until after the NPS Manhattan Project Study has been completed. This was excellent news.
  • We updated our website, including posting the new PowerPoint presentation, and a new page listing some key 1945 dates in the march to victory in World War II.
  • Jim Williams audited our books, and certified them to be sound and transparent (just the way you want an audit to turn out!) Thanks Jim!
  • Mel Finkbeiner and Tim Johnson scrubbed and updated the Membership list (both paid memberships and complimentary).
  • TRIDEC put funding for B Reactor in its Appropriations request to Congress for the 2006 budget year, thus indicating the importance it attaches to B Reactor tourism for the local economy. We surely appreciate TRIDEC’s help and partnership.
  • Several of our members attended a February lunch and dinner honoring Manhattan Project pioneers, held by the African American Community Cultural and Educational Society.

We are making great headway in gaining the attention of legislators, TRIDEC, the “Reach” Museum planners, other influential folks, and in working proactively with the National Park Service. Let’s keep up the momentum and the great reactor tours, let’s stay visible and positive, and our good cause will prevail! My thanks to ALL of you for all you do!

Report from the Atomic Heritage Foundation:
First Meeting on National Park Service Study, 7-8 March 2005

Cynthia C. Kelly
President, Atomic Heritage Foundation

Thanks to BRMA! The Atomic Heritage Foundation is very proud to have a handsome carved wooden plaque to adorn its offices from the B Reactor Museum Association’s 60th Anniversary Committee. Presented by Bob Potter at the reception on Tuesday, March 7, 2005 in the elegant Senate Rules Committee hearing room, we are delighted to have such a wonderful tribute from our BRMA friends.

The 60th Anniversary of the B Reactor was a wonderful testament to the public interest in the facility with hundreds of people signing up for the tours of the facility. The Atomic Heritage Foundation was pleased to be able to play a role in the 60th Anniversary Commemorative project and look forward to a productive partnership with BRMA in the future.

Meeting on the National Historical Park Site Study. With the passage of the “Manhattan Project National Historical Park Site Study Act,” we are poised to enter the next phase of preserving the B Reactor. On March 7 and 8, 2005, the Atomic Heritage Foundation convened the first exchange among the key players who will be involved in this study, from the National Park Service, Department of Energy, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and representatives from the three Manhattan Project sites.

The National Park Service (NPS) was represented by Warren Brown, Chief of Planning & Special Resource Studies, Carla McConnell of the Denver Service Center, and Robie Lange, National Historic Landmark program. Over the two days, the NPS staff was very impressed by the amount of work that the Department of Energy, the historical societies and other organizations had done.

Bob Potter enumerated the extensive documentation developed for the B Reactor. Most of the other significant Manhattan Project properties across the complex have also been well documented. Ron Hicks impressed them with the Richland Public Facilities District’s plans for the Reach Museum. Joe Valentino of the City of Oak Ridge presented the results of the City’s heritage tourism study and plans for its “Secret City” festival and Manhattan Project reunion in June. Nancy Bartlit, President of the Los Alamos Historical Society, shared the Society’s success in acquiring the Oppenheimer house, organizing major events last June with the Atomic Heritage Foundation, and publishing dozens of books on the Manhattan Project.

John Isaacson of the Los Alamos National Laboratory described the ten or so Manhattan Project properties that remain on the Laboratory’s property that are under consideration for preservation. John emphasized the Lab’s growing appreciation for preservation efforts and the value of having employees understand that they are “standing on the shoulders of giants” such as Oppenheimer, Teller, Bethe, Fermi and others.

John Fowler, executive director of the Advisory Council of Historic Preservation, said the Council has a keen interest in the National Park Service’s study and preserving the physical manifestations of the Manhattan Project. He urged people to think in terms of a hundred years from now, not just a decade or so. In addition, John emphasized the need to consider long-term uses for historic properties which often present major cost savings for the government.

John also urged Manhattan Project communities to consider applying for designation under the Preserve America initiative. This White House effort encourages and supports community efforts for preservation. To date, some 220 communities have received recognition. To quote John Nau, Chairman of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, about the initiative, “Sustainable preservation is not a cost for maintaining the past, it is an investment in the future.”

Skip Gosling, Chief Historian of the Department of Energy, heads the recently renamed “Office of History and Heritage Resources.” Currently he is reviewing the Department’s museums and surveying the Department’s historical assets in compliance with the Executive Order on Heritage Resources. Both of these efforts could contribute to local and national plans for heritage tourism.

For more information about the meeting, please see We had a very positive start to what should be a productive partnership over the next two years working on the Park Service’s Study (See also related article below: “Encouraging Results from Workshop on National Park Service Study”)

Exciting things are happening in Public Relations!

Sally Ann Potter
Chair, Public Relations and Publicity


We have organized a BRMA Speakers Bureau to provide programs about B Reactor for civic and service club meetings. We have a new PowerPoint presentation that has been prepared to tell the B Reactor story. We have six BRMA members who have volunteered to be speakers. A news release was sent out advising organizations to call Sally Ann Potter at 628-2149 if they would like a B Reactor Program. This will help get our story out to the community. If you know of organizations that would like a B Reactor Program, or if you would like to be added to our list of presenters, please call Sally Ann at 628-2149.


We had a very successful time in DC. The Atomic Heritage Foundation meetings with the National Park Service (NPS) included discussions about all the Manhattan Project sites in the NPS Study, but B Reactor was the main attention-getter!

Skip Gosling, DOE’s Chief Historian, was very supportive of the NPS Study and for the preservation of B Reactor. Skip agreed to have all the related information available to the NPS from the Manhattan Project sites sent to him. He will organize the material then send it to NPS for their study. Lots of ideas came from the Los Alamos and Oak Ridge people on combining tours of the Manhattan Project facilities with tours of the towns created during the Manhattan Project in the 1940’s and other local attractions, such as the Richland alphabet houses and wineries in our area.

The last evening we had dinner with representatives from the Hanford Communities and representatives of our Congressional delegation. Pam Brown Larsen from the City of Richland and Executive Director of Hanford Communities said to the group, “Sally Ann had a great week for B-Reactor!” It was very exciting!


Plans for our joint “Summer Solstice” Celebration with Bookwalter Winery are coming right along (see page 5). We have had two meetings with the Bookwalter folks. The date has been set for Saturday evening June 18th from 6 to 10 PM. Michele discussed the event and the need for BRMA volunteers at the last BRMA monthly meeting. She reports that many of our members offered to help. She has since consulted with the BRMA Board on specifics of the event, and the Board has expressed support. Plans are being finalized and at our next BRMA meeting we will send around a sign-up sheet for those who want to help.

This Celebration will give BRMA some high-profile publicity and will provide prominent people in our community the opportunity to learn about plans for the preservation of B Reactor and actions needed soon if we are to save it.

Encouraging results from workshop on National Park Service Study

Bob Potter
BRMA Representative to AHF Workshop

Cindy Kelly, President of The Atomic Heritage Foundation, hosted a workshop in Washington D.C. on March 8th and 9th to kick off the implementation of the “Manhattan Project National Historic Park Study Act” that was signed by President Bush in October 2004. The Act calls for a Special Resources Study to be conducted by the National Park Service (NPS) to consider the creation of a unit of the National Park System at Manhattan Project locations across the country, including Hanford, Oak Ridge, TN, and Los Alamos, NM. The Study is to include the evaluation of the preservation of B Reactor as an historical facility as part of the National Park System or to make recommendation for alternatives options for its preservation as a museum or interpretive historical exhibit.

The workshop sessions included presentations and discussions with Warren Brown, Chief of the NPS Planning & Special Resources Studies; John Fowler, the Executive Director of the President’s Advisory Council on Historic Preservation; and Skip Gosling, Chief Historian for the Department of Energy (DOE). A number of presentations were also made by representatives from the three Manhattan Project sites. They described the facilities available at each site to be considered in the Study, what has already been done to preserve the history and artifacts at their locations, and how they promote Heritage Tourism in the communities. Support for preserving B Reactor was well represented at the meetings by Bob & Sally Ann Potter and Burt Pierard from BRMA; Pam Brown Larsen, from the City of Richland and Executive Director of Hanford Communities; and Ron Hicks, Project Manager and Executive Director for the new Hanford Reach National Monument Heritage and Visitor Center.

The major issue preventing the Study from proceeding is that no 2005 funding was appropriated with the 2004 Manhattan Project Study Act. Cindy Kelly has submitted a request for funding for the Study in the 2006 Energy and Water Development Appropriations legislation and is working closely with the congressional delegations from each of the three states involved. In the meantime, NPS has about $25,000 in 2005 to define a detailed scope of the Study for each of the three sites and determine a creditable cost estimate to complete the Study scope for each site. They are looking at each of the three sites individually, but will prepare a consolidated “interim” report to Congress at the end of 2005 on the status of applicable information, what work will still need to be done, a plan to proceed, and cost estimate. The NPS Seattle Office will be responsible for the Hanford portion of the Study. It was also discussed that the study for each site can be conducted independently and funding for each site’s portion of the Study can come from sources other than NPS funds; possibly from other government agencies, private or non-profit corporations or foundations. One of the follow-up actions from the workshop that BRMA will be pursuing is to determine the process for obtaining and using alternate funding for the Hanford portion of the Study.

NPS requested that the three sites provide them with any information and data already available for NPS to review so that they can determine what additional work needs to be done to complete the Study for each site and to prepare a creditable cost estimate. Skip Gosling of DOE will be responsible for receiving the information from each site and forwarding it on to the NPS. BRMA gave Skip Gosling and the NPS the list of seventeen B Reactor documents that are already available, the CD containing the documents, and the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) CD. The immediate availability of these documents should be of significant assistance to the NPS in defining the scope and cost for the Hanford portion of the Manhattan Project Study. BRMA is planning to work with the Seattle NPS office to assist them in defining the scope and cost of the Hanford (B Reactor) portion of the Study.

B Reactor National Historic Landmark application update

The BRMA application to the National Park Service (NPS) for the designation of B Reactor as a National Historic Landmark (NHL) has been stalled in the NPS Seattle office for several months. Before the application is accepted and approved and the evaluation initiated, the NPS requires a letter from the facility owner concurring with the application. For B Reactor, the “owner” is the Department of Energy (DOE) Environmental Management Program. Following our request for an endorsement letter from the Richland Operations Office, we were informed that the decision to issue the letter would have to come from DOE Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

As a result of meetings that BRMA representatives had in Washington, D.C. in early March with Cindy Kelly, President of The Atomic Heritage Foundation, and Dr. Skip Gosling, DOE’s Chief Historian and Preservation Officer, Cindy has written a letter to Paul Golan, Acting Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management, requesting a letter to the NPS concurring with the NHL application for B Reactor. Cindy’s letter explained that processing the B Reactor NHL application would also assist the NPS in initiating the implementation of the “Manhattan Project National Historical Park Site Study Act” of 2004. (See article on Workshop on National Park Service Study)

As a follow-up to Cindy’s letter, Dr. Gosling is planning to meet with Mr. Golan to explain the NHL application process and the relationship of the B Reactor application to the Manhattan Project National Historical Park Study. He will also offer staff support to Mr. Golan in issuing the DOE letter. Dr. Gosling is a strong advocate for preserving B Reactor. He has a meeting scheduled to brief the new Deputy Secretary of Energy, Clay Sell, on DOE’s Historic Preservation Program. He is planning to use the preservation of B Reactor as an example of how preservation can save the Environmental Management Program money and demonstrate to the White House that DOE is addressing the “Preserve America” Executive Order signed by President Bush in 2003.

Once the DOE letter of concurrence is sent to NPS, we will work with the NPS Seattle office to finalize and process the B Reactor application for NHL designation.

AHF Foundation films available on loan to BRMA members

The Atomic Heritage Foundation has issued a short version (19 minutes) of its recent film called “Hanford’s Secret Wartime Mission, 1943-1945”. BRMA has purchased four copies that are available for loan to members. Maximum loan period is 2 weeks. The film is available in DVD ONLY. Call or email Michele Gerber if you want to borrow a copy.

Membership lists updated

Member’s annual due structure payment was changed in 2003. Although there was some confusion during the transition period, starting with 2004, all members will now pay their dues on October 1st. of each year. In the recent weeks, Membership Chairman Melvin Finkbeiner working with Richard Romanelli has updated our membership list. Due to the diligent efforts of these and other individuals, the membership list is now up to date, including the list of valid email addresses.

As of March 27th, BRMA has a total of 144 paid memberships for the year 2005. We are always looking for additional members to help us in the fight to keep B reactor from the wrecking ball.

Critical Mass

Since our 60th Anniversary commemoration event last fall, BRMA has had the opportunity to welcome many new members who have joined the BRMA ranks. Although our lists may not be 100% complete, we would like to extend a warm welcome to the following new members:

Gary Howden Kettle Falls, WA
Roger Johnson Prescott, WI
Todd Nelson Richland, WA
James Shafer Puyallup, WA