THE MODERATOR – Summer 2004

From the control room

Del Ballard
President, BRMA

The past three months have been a whirlwind of activity for the BRMA. We have seen and welcomed increased news media attention as well as activity in Congress on National Park Service legislation. Locally, we have been busy planning for the 60th anniversary commemoration of the initial startup of B reactor and, finally, we have been blessed with an increase in tours to the reactor.

The Washington Trust for Historic Preservation has included B Reactor in their 2004 listing of Washington’s “Most Endangered Historic Properties.” This action will raise the level of awareness of our northwest citizens on the status and our concern over preservation of “B.” At least eight major northwest newspapers, including the Seattle PI, The Oregonian, and The Spokesman Review carried stories on this. Most of the articles mentioned the September 2005 date when the DOE is asking for a decision on the final disposition of the reactor.

Senate bill S-1687 has successfully passed through the prerequisite committees in the Senate and now resides on the Senate docket, with the expectation that it be voted on during this session of Congress. The bill received unanimous approval of the Senate Energy Committee on April 28th. Action in the House on corresponding bill H.R. 3207 is also pending. Prominent visitors to the site on May 25 included Congressman Hobson of Ohio, who is chairman of the Energy Appropriation committee, accompanied by Doc Hastings, Keith Klein and several other dignitaries. Later Mr. Klein of DOE noted that Hobson appeared very taken by the B Reactor tour. While not making any promises, Hobson did make some encouraging comments with respect to funding support outside of clean up dollars.

The 60th anniversary committee has been busy making plans for events celebrating the startup of the world’s first full-scale production reactor. Pulitzer-prize winning author Richard Rhodes has been confirmed as the keynote speaker for the banquet. Public tours to the reactor will be available during the day, Saturday, October 9th. Further details are included in this issue.

Roger Rohrbacher, our famous tour guide chairman, reports that BRMA has provided guide service for some 14 tours during the past three months. Three of these groups can be expected to influence the future of the reactor, including tours by author Richard Rhodes on April 28th, the Congressmen, including Committee Chairman Hobson, on May 25th, and the group that will be providing design services for the Reach Visitors Center on May 27th.

I hope you all enjoy a pleasant and safe summer.

B Reactor Tour Route Continues to Improve

Lyle Wilhelmi
Exhibits Chairman, BRMA

B Reactor was toured June 23rd, 2004 by Todd Nelson (Bechtel Hanford Incorporated – BHI), John Crigler (BHI graphics designer), Roger Rohrbacher (B Reactor tour guide), Larry Denton (B Reactor tour guide), Lyle Wilhelmi (BRMA exhibits chairman), and Mike Caldwell, (BHI B Reactor facilities maintenance). The function of the group was to make recommendations for the 60th anniversary and subsequent B Reactor tours.

There was consensus that the building should be displayed as a period piece and look as much as possible like an operating reactor. Use of some areas evolved over time and had seen several uses. It was decided to pick a date in the operational history and label each part of the workspace according to its function as it was during that time period.

It was decided that additional signage was needed in the entry hallway, front-face work area, the accumulator room, the valve room and the control room. These are the areas that will be included in the 60th anniversary tours in October.

The stands for the historical exhibit in the entry hallway are to be redesigned so as to provide more space for tour groups. Exhibits addressing topics other than pre-Manhattan project history will be moved to other locations.

The front face requires no additional work but the front-face work area will be cleared of all but the topic of 105-B construction along the left wall and basic operational artifacts on the right wall. The display cabinets and their contents in the forward area of the work space should be moved to another location to provide a clear view of the front face. The blank wall areas in the fan room or the rooms in the area of the old lunch room were suggested as possibilities. The rear of the work space will have no exhibits except the process tubes and associated tools.

BRMA has much to thank BHI for. Without their initiation of the project and their assistance, this would be impossible. We give special thanks to the BHI B Reactor facilities maintenance crew for both the extra work they have exerted and continue to invest.

60th Anniversary of B Reactor Going Critical: BRMA to Host October 9th Celebration

Multiple Events Planned

As most BRMA members know, it was September 26th, 1944, when B Reactor went critical for the first time. As part of the 60th anniversary commemoration of that event, there will be several events taking place, and Bechtel Hanford has agreed to make a $10,000 contribution to be the presenting sponsor at the dinner. Other sponsorships are still pending. Other October 9th Celebration activities include:

B Reactor Tours

DOE has made the reactor available on October 9th. Bechtel and BRMA together will be holding tours of the reactor. Details below.

Celebration Dinner

BRMA, together with the Atomic Heritage Foundation (AHF), will be having a 60th Anniversary celebration Dinner and Speaker’s Banquet at the Shilo Inn in Richland starting at 6 p.m. Several local and national dignitaries are to attend including a keynote after-dinner address by Richard Rhodes, author of The Making of the Atomic Bomb. Details below.

In-town Exhibits and Displays

During the course of the day on Saturday October 9th, there will also be displays at several venues within the city of Richland. These include exhibits by several groups and agencies at the Richland Community Center, as well as several B-Reactor and Hanford era displays at the Columbia River Exhibit of History Science and Technology (CREHST) and at Atomic Ale pub. Plans for the exhibits are still unfolding, but BRMA thanks all three of these venues.

B Reactor Tours October 9th for 60th Anniversary Celebration

SIGN UP NOW! Limited Number of Public Tours! BRMA Members First!

B Reactor Tour information and REGISTRATION are now available ON-LINE for BRMA members and the general public. Tour registration time can also be changed or canceled. Click here.

As most BRMA members know, it was September 26th, 1944 when B Reactor went critical for the first time. As part of the 60th anniversary commemoration of that event, the BRMA, as permitted by the Department of Energy and assisted by Bechtel Hanford, is conducting public tours of the reactor.

The reactor tours are open to the public, but are limited to a few hundred people. The public registration will be handled by Bechtel Hanford, but there is an advance registration open only to B Reactor Museum Association members. The tour registration form must be filled out in its entirety in order to be registered for a B Reactor tour on October 9th. Each BRMA member may register him or herself plus one guest for the tour, but it is imperative that these registrations be received by July 20th!

The tours will be on Saturday October 9th, and the tour participants must arrive at the Bechtel building (3070 George Washington Way, in north Richland) at the appropriate check-in time: The check-in times for the seven tours are 7:30, 8:30, 9:30, 10:30 and 11:30 a.m., as well as 12:30, and 1:30 p.m. The tour participants must arrive punctually with picture ID that will be checked by Bechtel employees. The buses will depart for B Reactor and return to Bechtel approximately 3 hours later. There will be lavatories at 3070 G.W. Way and at the reactor. Water will be available, but not food.

Advance registration is open to any BRMA member and one guest 12 years and older, who are both U.S. citizens. Children between the ages of 12 and 17 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. A parental authorization form will be required. Each BRMA member may bring one guest, if registered at the same time. If the advance registration is missed, BRMA members may register online when registration opens to the general public about August 1st.

There are a few logistical considerations as well:

Because B Reactor is located in the middle of an active soil remediation and construction zone, the area and buses are not accessible to the physically disabled. Consequently we will unfortunately not be able to make accommodations for people requiring any assistance.
If the site terrorist alert is raised to orange or red, all tours will be cancelled.
All those who register will be provided with a confirmation and instructions on how to cancel if they cannot attend.

Again, if you want to sign up for an October 9th tour of B Reactor, completely fill out the tour registration form and return it pronto! We must receive it by July 20th.

Registration for the general public will be available on or about August 1st.

You can also register now for the 60th anniversary celebration dinner that evening (see below).

Whether or not you sign up for a tour or the dinner, don’t forget that there will also be exhibits to see that day in Richland.

B Reactor 60th Anniversary Celebration Dinner – October 9th, 2004


As part of the 60th anniversary celebration, the BRMA, together with the Atomic Heritage Foundation, will be hosting a commemorative dinner at the Shilo Inn in Richland on Saturday, October 9, 2004.

The celebration dinner will include local and national dignitaries making brief addresses regarding both the history of “B” as the first full-scale plutonium production reactor and its envisioned future as a museum adjacent to the Hanford Reach National Monument. We have invited Congressman Hastings and Senators Cantwell and Murray, and several representatives of national and state agencies. The dignitaries are slated to speak before dinner.

After dinner the keynote speaker will be Richard Rhodes, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, The National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Mr. Rhodes has written several excellent books including The Making of the Atomic Bomb, detailing many facets of the Manhattan Project. Mr. Rhodes is an extremely prolific author and is regarded as one of the nation’s authorities on the Manhattan Project, including many of its aspects at the Oak Ridge, Hanford, and Los Alamos sites.

The anticipated cost of this dinner will be $35 per person, but BRMA hopes to obtain a sponsorship to help offset some of the costs of the dinner, and therefore for BRMA members only there is an advance registration discounted price of $20 per person (1 BRMA member plus limit of 1 guest). In order to obtain tickets at this price, however, payment must be received by BRMA not later than August 2nd, 2004.


What’s been going on since April 2004:
An unofficial log of happenings from BRMA leaders

4/20 60th anniversary meeting Shilo Inn; Shilo chosen as banquet site. Discussion on dinner speaker.

4/21 Letter to Doc Hastings asking for assistance in gaining DOE approval for Oct. 9th plant tours

4/24 BRMA participated in an open house at the LIGO facility, displaying poster boards and handouts to public visitors. Richard Romanelli, Del, and Gene staffed the BRMA display booth.

4/28 Richard Rhodes, author of “The Making of the Atomic Bomb,” visited Hanford (for the first time) via PNNL. Del accompanied Rhodes and Richard Romanelli in Hanford site driving tour including B Rx tour. Del discussed with Mr. Rhodes possibility of him speaking at our Oct. 9th celebration event. Mr. Rhodes indicated he is interested but could not commit at this time.

4/29 Richard Rhodes presented a lecture at Battelle auditorium regarding his thoughts and experiences during his research for The Making of the Atomic Bomb and other of his books.

4/28 Cindy Kelly (AHF) informed Del that full Senate Energy Committee unanimously approved Manhattan Project National Historic Park Study Act. Bill now on Senate calendar. Great news!

4/29 The Tri-City Herald carried article about the Senate Energy Committee approving the NPS study act. Del also received a call from Senator Cantwell’s DC office notifying us of the action.

5/4 Received advanced copy of letter from DOE giving approval of Sat. Oct 9th B Reactor tours. Planning committee met at Potter residence to advance plans for the 60th anniversary events.

5/24 Hank conducted tour for 3 congressmen and their aids, along with DOE people. Congressmen were Hobson of Ohio, chairman of the committee that will deal with our legislation, Frelinghuysen of NJ (second ranking Republican on committee), along with Doc Hastings.

5/27 Roger and Hank helped with two tours; first was Dru Butler’s co-workers who had expressed interest to her to see the reactor. Dru arranged tour. Later in day they escorted three members of architects and exhibit designers who will work on the Point museum; interested in what they will be able to do to create interest in reactors that will entice visitors to want to see real thing.

6/3 Del gave “Time Capsule” talk on KONA radio, talking on air with Doc Hastings about legislation.

6/14 Washington Trust for Historic Preservation announced B Rx on “Most Endangered Historic Properties List” for 2004.

6/15 Shannon Dininny, the Associated Press editor for central Washington called Del for comments and input on progress being make on turning the reactor into a museum. Also, Tri-City Herald published an article about the B Reactor being included on the list of “Most Endangered Historic Properties” nominated by the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation.

6/17 BRMA Board members met at Del’s. Ongoing activities reviewed, and plans firmed up.

6/18 Commitments were made between BRMA and Richard Rhodes for Mr. Rhodes to be the keynote speaker at out banquet on Oct. 9. Mr. Rhodes is the author of numerous best sellers and won the Pulitzer prize for his book, The Making of the Atomic Bomb.

6/23 Gene/ Del attended workshops sponsored by the DOE, EPA, and Ecology to obtain public input to help define “end state” of Hanford 100 Areas. Much discussion on final reactor disposition, including B reactor. B Preservation received support from a majority of attendees.