THE MODERATOR – Summer 2003

From the control room

Del Ballard
President, BRMA

I can’t believe the year is already half way down the tube. But, as they say, time flies when you are having fun!

There have been some interesting and exciting developments since our last newsletter, probably the most interesting has been the work of the Atomic Heritage Foundation (AHF). That Washington DC group under the leadership of Cindy Kelly is preparing a report to Congress on how best to preserve the history of the Manhattan Project. Meetings organized by Ms. Kelly were held in Richland in late April and early May to develop recommendations and input from the locals. The desire to “save B Reactor” came out as a top priority. See related articles in this issue for the details.

In addition to the “Report to Congress” that the AHF is working on, they are also planning on producing a film on the “Building of the B Reactor”. The filming crew is scheduled to work on site during the week of July 28. Remaining Manhattan facilities will be filmed as well as interviews with local pioneers. A planning meeting, lead by DOE and Bechtel, is scheduled for July 7.

For BRMA the recently approved changes to the by-laws has changed the “Health, Safety and Engineering Committee” to “Property and Facilities”. Also, since February, the BRMA Tour committee, under the leadership of Roger Rohrbacher, has provided guides for nine tours of the B Reactor for various groups, including a tour on May 14 for representatives from Governor Locke’s office. The latest tour, June 26, involved officials from local and regional offices of Fish and Wildlife, including their Regional Director, Dave Allen, of Portland. They left expressing great appreciation and “were impressed”.

All of this increased attention should be helpful in our quest for preservation, and in gaining “museum” status for the historic B Reactor. However, we still have a long (the past 13 years have been short?) and uncertain battle in achieving that end.

Preserving the Manhattan Project Heritage at Hanford

Atomic Heritage Meeting Summary

Del Ballard and Tim Johnson

The Atomic Heritage Foundation, spearheaded by its leader Cindy Kelly, organized a meeting and workshop in the Tri-Cities during April 30th and May 1st. Ms. Kelly is President of the D.C.- based Atomic Heritage Foundation, which is operating under a $250,000 grant from the DOE to develop a plan and submit a report to Congress on how best to preserve the most significant remaining buildings, artifacts, and documents that portray the history of the Manhattan Project. Plans are under way to preserve various sites that participated in the Manhattan Project including Oak Ridge, Los Alamos, and of course Hanford.

The meetings and workshops started on the Wednesday afternoon, but on the Wednesday morning Cindy was escorted on a Bechtel-sponsored tour of B Reactor. Tom Marceau and Dru Butler hosted while Roger Rohrbacher and Bob Egge acted at guides. Others attending were Lyle Wilhelmi and Del Ballard of BRMA and Don Eckert and staff of BHI. Bechtel had the B-reactor building looking in top shape for the visit!

The format for the AHF forum was a series of presentations on Wednesday afternoon, followed by smaller working groups charting specific future goals and action during the course of the day on Thursday. In the opening remarks on Wednesday, Keith Klein, Manager of DOE Richland Operations Office, expressed his strong support for the “preservation initiative”, while at the same time recognizing DOE’s requirement for clean up of the Hanford site. His closing line was, “do not let me cocoon again” in his vision for the future of B Reactor.

The recurring theme throughout the afternoon was documentation and preservation of key Hanford contributions to the Manhattan project, the B reactor in particular. Formal presentations included the telling of the Manhattan Project story at Hanford: Darby Stapp of PNNL covered pre-Hanford history; Tom Marceau of Bechtel described Manhattan Project Resources; Del Ballard summarized the B Reactor History and what BRMA sees as the path forward. Also participating were representatives from the National Park Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as other speakers from DOE, the Friends of the Reach, City of Richland, the Tri-cities Visitor and Convention Bureau, and the Richland Chamber of Commerce. Some 60 to 80 private citizens and Hanford employees attended the afternoon session.

Workshop meetings on Thursday concentrated on the development of recommendations for what should be preserved, as well as identifying strategies for long term stewardship of such historic features. From the multitude of ideas and opinions listed by three working groups in brainstorming sessions, a list of sixteen recommendations was compiled, and two more were added after the Richland meetings. At the end of the day these recommendations were presented to DOE, Bechtel, and to Joyce Olson, the representative from Doc Hastings’ staff. At least three of the 18 recommendations were of major significance relative to the future of B Reactor: (1) obtain congressional authorization and funding for National Park Service study; (2)open the B reactor for tours now; and (3) include the option for long term preservation of B in the final DOE decision determination. At the suggestion of Mike Hughes of BHI each of the 18 items were assigned to a lead organization for action.

Not the least of the encouraging developments of these very promising meetings was the positive position expressed by Stephanie Toothman, chief of Cultural Resources, and Hank Florence, Historical Architect, of the National Park Service. In other words, “get them the authorization and funding and they will proceed” with their study, and likely operating partnership, for a B Reactor Museum!

Detailed recommendations of the workshop are found below.

Recommendations of the Atomic Heritage Foundation

The meeting and workshops sponsored by the Atomic Heritage Foundation resulted in a series of eighteen recommendations as to how to preserve the Manhattan Project Heritage at Hanford. The ultimate goal is summarized in the vision statement: “The public and future generations will have access to the significant resources related to the Manhattan Project on the Hanford site through education, interpretation, and physical interaction.” The history of the Hanford site must address the many impacts of the project including on Native American tribes, local communities, the ecosystem, etc. Further, the history must consider how to best preserve the remaining resources of the Manhattan project via structures and sites (notably B reactor), as well other records, documents, histories etc.

A series of recommendations was made, and several parties agreed to their roles and responsibilities in these recommendations. Most notable among these was that DOE has stewardship responsibility under the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), and that DOE can work with other federal, state and local agencies as well as the public to preserve significant Manhattan Project resources. Other partners with roles to play include the Park Service (NPS), Fish & Wildlife, State Historic Preservation Office, CRESHT, and congressional representatives to authorize the funds for the NPS study. The following are the consensus recommendations of the workshop; individuals or organizations have agreed to take responsibility for their implementation. Due to Moderator space considerations, some of the detailed recommendations have been omitted. The recommendations of AHF have been reordered to group those that address similar topics but the new order is not intended to imply relative priority.

1. Get National Park Service study authorized with realistic time frames.

Responsible parties: Congressional representatives for Doc Hastings and Senators Murray and Cantwell; Heritage tourism partners and residents express support through letters to local Congressional offices; Atomic Heritage Foundation to work with Washington State Congressional delegation and other delegations.

2. Open B Reactor now for regular tours with B Reactor Museum Association (BRMA) and other partners.

3. Determine appropriate exposure limits for members of the public who visit B Reactor when the B Reactor is under jurisdiction of the Park Service or other long-term steward.

4. Include option for preservation of B Reactor in decision-making process under the Tri-Party Agreement.

5. Allow site access for road tours and reevaluate requirements for minors.

6. Preserve existing transportation alternatives and work with partners to implement public access via rail, road, and river. Detailed recommendations: Provide for boat tours from Richland to Vernita Bridge and provide a launch and take-out place at Vernita. Upgrade roads necessary to provide public access to B Reactor and other sites, as appropriate.

7. Identify critical near-term needs and take action including protection, stabilization, surveillance, maintenance and funding for structures, sites, artifacts and records.

8. Preserve T Plant for public viewing and interpretation and consider other Manhattan Project properties for possible reuse and preservation as necessary to interpret the history of the Manhattan Project at Hanford.

9. Examine river corridor contract to accelerate clean-up of White Bluffs and Hanford town sites. Facilitate access to White Bluffs ferry landing for a World War II memorial. Detailed recommendations: Consider an interpretive center to tell the story of the agricultural communities of White Bluffs and Hanford along the banks of the river. Consider rebuilding the railroad station building at White Bluffs or using the Bruggeman warehouse for interpretation. Also, recognize the sacrifices of the agricultural communities whose property was condemned by the government in 1943 and the loss of fishing, hunting and gathering rights by the Native American tribes.

10. Provide for restoration and long-term preservation of significant properties as part of the accelerated cleanup and plan.

11. Assist City of Richland in preserving and interpreting the “Alphabet homes” and commercial properties.

12. Collect, organize, and make available, with appropriate funding, existing information and documents prepared by DOE, BRMA, and other groups relating to preservation of the Manhattan Project at Hanford. Detailed recommendations: Construct a facility or adapt an existing facility such as the FMEF as a center for Manhattan Project and Cold War research and interpretation, similar to the Desert Research Institute’s new facility at the University of Nevada/Las Vegas campus. The facility would provide for the storage and curation of artifacts, archival film and documents, research library, and exhibits for the public.

13. Respond to the recommendations of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation on the Manhattan Project and pursue implementation of the President’s Executive Order of March 3, 2003 to “Preserve America.”

14. Research and interpret Hanford’s technology spin-offs (e.g., health physics, environmental effects, transport fate and modeling, and various technologies).

15. Embrace “Living Legacy” concept to perpetuate rather than just preserve the history of Hanford and provide access to physical and knowledge artifacts and provide for their continuing interpretation.

16. Continue public issues exchange, providing greater public participation.

17. Use DOD, NASA, and other efforts to interpret history of the Manhattan Project and fulfill DOE’s stewardship responsibilities.

18. Identify working group to ensure goals and objectives from this workshop are followed through. (a) Make a record of this meeting, and (b) Review and comment on draft document

What’s been going on since March 2003

An unofficial log of happenings from BRMA leaders

4/14 The regular April monthly meeting for BRMA members. 20 in attendance.

4/22 Dru Butler hosted and lead a meeting of BHI and BRMA folks to plan and initiate the formulation of presentations (Power Point format) for various target groups.

4/10 thru 4/25. Several phone calls and e-mail exchanges occurred with Cindy Kelly of the Atomic Heritage Foundation in planning schedules and participation in a meeting in Richland on April 30 & May 1. Meeting title: “Preserving the Manhattan Project Heritage at Hanford”

4/22 Del, Lyle, Gordon R. and others attended a Public Issues Exchange meeting sponsored by Annabelle Rodriguez, DOE on the Cultural and Historic Resources Program.

4/22 Lyle, Madeleine, Tim, Roger, and Del met with BHI folks to review drafts of Power Point presentation to be given at the April 30 meeting in Richland – Preserving Manhattan History.

4/29 Bechtel and BRMA hosted Cindy Kelly and her assistant, Mark, on a grand tour of the B Reactor. Tom Marceau and Dru hosted while Roger and Bob Egge acted at guides. Others attending were Lyle and Del of BRMA and Don Eckert & staff of BHI. Bechtel has B looking good!

4/29 & 5/01. Cindy Kelly, President of the Atomic Heritage Foundation, conducted a meeting titled “Preserving the Manhattan Project Heritage at Hanford”. Information presentations by several speakers on Wednesday. Workshops on Thursday developed a list of recommendations to be included in Ms Kelly’s report to Congress. A wide range of meeting participants included Bechtel, PNNL, BRMA, CREST, NPS, Fish & Wildlife, and several others.

5/12 May BRMA regular meeting held at the Richland Public Library. 24 members or guests attended.

5/12 Received notification from Madeleine Brown that she is resigning as the BRMA Secretary.

5/14 Del received a call from Tylor Prout of Doc Hastings’ D.C. staff, asking for input for preparation of legislation for the National Park Service Study. Del offered to send copies of recent resolutions or letters that have been prepared and/or submitted. Tylor indicated he would first review what they have in hand before requesting new submittals.

5/14 Mike Schlender, Richland DOE Asst Mgr and Mary Goldie (also DOE), accompanied Bob Nichols of the Governor’s office in a tour of B Reactor. Hank K. represented BRMA and presented status of B and a summary of Atomic Heritage recommendations. WA State Ecology also attended.

5/27 Received letter inviting BRMA to participate in a conference sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The conferences titled “Cold War memory. Interpreting the Physical Legacy of the Cold War”, will be held in Washington, DC on Sept. 8-9, ‘03.

6/8 Membership meeting held at Atomic Ale & Brewpub. 17 members and guests attended. Rev. 5 of BRMA By Laws was approved, adding Tours as a standing committee and Board member.

6/10 Larry Denton and Bob Smith provided guide service for group of 25 new employees of PNNL.

6/12 Received notification from Cindy Kelly, Atomic Heritage Foundation (AHF), that they have scheduled interviews and filming of B Reactor during the week of July 21 here in Richland

6/16 Received for comment an e-mail draft of the AHF “Interim Report to Congress”.

6/18 Contacted Hank Florence, Historical Architect, National Park Service, and forwarded a copy of Cindy Kelly’s draft “Interim Report to Congress”. He indicated they plan to provide comments..

6/21 Meeting (Hank K., Gene W., Lyle W., and Del B.) to consolidate BRMA comments of AHF report

6/22 Del sent by e-mail the consolidated list of comments to C. Kelly on her draft report to Congress. Attempts to coordinate our response with DOE were not successful.

6/26 Employees from Fish & Wildlife, including Dave Allen, Regional Director, Greg Hughes, Local Manager, and Lloyd Piper of DOE were accompanied on a 15-person tour of B Reactor with Bob Egge and Del Ballard as guides. The group went away “impressed”. This is the eleventh group that BRMA has “toured” this calendar year.