THE MODERATOR – Winter 2001

K > 1

Gene Weisskopf
President, BRMA

If you asked ten interested people to choose just one reason why B Reactor should be preserved, I’m sure you’d hear ten different but quite valid reasons. That’s the virtue of the building—it has played a diverse role in local and world history.

Because of this, it can be easy to generate interest in the reactor when explaining it to one of the few (billion) people who know nothing of it. Try it on some 5th graders and you’ll see what I mean—even kids born in 1990 can be awakened to the flood of history that runs the reactor.

Speaking of floods, there’s been a steady stream of activity at the reactor, both on paper in the form of reports, and in fact in the form of ongoing repairs to the building. Although the DOE has still not committed any funds for the current fiscal year, Bechtel has arranged their 100 Area budget to keep work moving along at the reactor.

We’ve been finding that Bechtel’s B Czar, Dru Butler, is a wonderful asset for both keeping us in touch with the goings on in and around the reactor, and also for serving as a conduit for our questions, advice, and so on. Thanks Dru.

Speaking of homecomings, we had a very special visitor in November who came all the way from Wilmington and all the way from 1944 to revisit B Reactor. Bill Ryan was a DuPont employee when he was assigned to the Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge, TN. There he helped put together and conduct classes in what was essentially the world’s first school for reactor operators, devising the procedures and techniques for running a nuclear reactor.

He was sent to Richland in early 1944, primarily as a liaison between the work going on in the 100 Areas and the main DuPont office back in Wilmington. He was here when the reactor was started up, and remembers quite well the episode with the xenon poisoning of the reactor.

His name (William McCoy Ryan) appears on a dozen Hanford reports of the day, a few describing some startup issues for D Reactor. But he left before D Reactor came online, leaving Richland at the end of 1944 to perform more important wartime work for DuPont. Before he left though, he and his wife had a baby boy at Kadlec hospital, December 1944. Their son, Michael, lived in Richland for all of a few weeks.

So it was with great interest when Michael called me in early November, saying that his father was coming west for Thanksgiving, and would it be possible for them to come visit B Reactor? (That’s the problem when the name of your group is “Museum Association”—people seem to think there’s a museum.)

With the help of Dru Butler, we arranged a tour of B Reactor for the three Ryans. It was a memorable occasion and a rich opportunity for the reactor to act like a museum.

BRMA Board Members – 2001

President: Gene Weisskopf
Vice President: Jim Stoffels
Secretary: Madeleine Brown
Treasurer: Warren Sevier

Committee Chairs:

Health, Safety, & Engineering: Del Ballard
History, Artifacts, & Exhibits: Lyle Wilhelmi
Membership: Joe Hedges
Public Relations: Jim Thornton
Editor: Gene Weisskopf

Accelerated Cleanup Along the Columbia River Corridor

On December 18, 2000, the BRMA submitted the following comments to the DOE about the proposal to accelerate cleanup along the Columbia River corridor. You can read about about the proposal at:

The B Reactor Museum Association, a non-profit volunteer organization, has been working for the past 10 years to ensure that Hanford’s B Reactor, the world’s first production-scale nuclear reactor, is preserved from the wrecking ball and then opened to the public as a museum. Therefore, we enthusiastically support the DOE’s proposal to accelerate the cleanup work in the Columbia River corridor. Because B Reactor is uniquely situated at Hanford, both literally and figuratively, we would like to offer our own proposal, that B Reactor and the land around it become the “poster child” for the effort to accelerate cleanup along the river.

The DOE’s vision to accelerate the release of river corridor lands states that doing so will “provide opportunities for public access to key recreational areas, protect cultural resources, and shrink the footprint for active Hanford cleanup operations.” Specifically, the vision singles out B Reactor and the town sites of Hanford and White Bluffs as being of “historical significance” where “public access is highly desirable.”

B Reactor’s place in the history of Hanford, as well in the history of the United States and the world, is utterly unique and deserving of recognition. No other structure or land on the Hanford Site better represents the role that Hanford played in the Manhattan Project, the scientific pursuit and development of nuclear energy, and the atomic stalemate of the Cold War. The related threads of history that run through B Reactor reach every corner of the world. In terms of accelerating the release of Hanford lands for other uses, B Reactor deserves a place at the top of the list.

The lands around B Reactor are also rich with thousands of years of human history and millions of years of geologic history, with Native American sites, the Bruggeman warehouse, the desert-adapted flora and fauna, and especially the Columbia River. All of these create a unique and highly compelling opportunity for public access.

Not only is B Reactor uniquely situated in history, it is also uniquely situated on the Hanford Site, in a location that is perfectly suited for early release to public uses. The DOE’s vision suggests that the strategy for accelerating cleanup of the 100 Areas could include a “phased ‘pincer approach’ to sequence the cleanup work scope, progressing inward from the west (i.e., the Vernita Bridge) and from the south (i.e., near the 300 Area) to the northwest.”

In other words, B Reactor’s position at the far, northwest corner of the Hanford Site is an ideal starting point for the release of Hanford’s river-corridor lands. The DOE has already stated in its land-use plan that B Reactor and the land running from it to the Vernita Bridge to the west are suitable for high-intensity recreational uses. Easy public access to the reactor is made possible by Route 6, an existing (although unused) road that runs from B Reactor to Highway 24 at the bridge. The road could offer public access without the need for security badges and without interfering with cleanup traffic on the rest of the Site.

The sooner B Reactor is opened to the public, the sooner the community can begin to reap the benefits of its priceless resources, both cultural and economic. Currently, local communities have almost no stake in the Hanford Site. Although many people work there, virtually no one visits the site for other purposes.

Opening a B Reactor Museum and the lands to the west of it along the river would set free a cornucopia of riches—the priceless ones such as history, education, and recreation, and the more mundane sorts such as tourism—and all in just one corner of the vast Hanford reservation, illustrating to the world just what lies in store in the rest of the river corridor.

It’s easy to see how public access to a B Reactor Museum would perfectly jibe with the DOE’s vision that seeks out “near-term and highly visible accomplishments” with “tangible results.” What could possibly be more tangible than a school bus parked in front of a B Reactor Museum?

Home is Where Your Make It

Carol Roberts

The day after Christmas, 1943, my dad was sent from Boulder, Colorado, to report to the DuPont Corporation in a very small town in Washington state called Pasco.

Since he would be driving his 1936 Auburn, he was given C stamps to purchase gasoline and a voucher for new tires in case he needed them. That day was probably the best Christmas present my family ever had. It was the beginning of a whole new way of life and a great adventure.

For one thing, there would be more money. But wartime had created shortages, so that ration stamps seemed to be more precious than coin of the realm. My mom cried and begged my dad not to go, saying she would never leave Boulder—but leave we did.

Dad said when he reached Pasco and asked directions, he could get few answers. No one seemed to know anything, and if they did, they weren’t telling. He was finally taken to the transit quarters in Richland, now the Red Lion Hanford House, and told to report to the administration office the next morning.

By this time my dad said he was shaking in his puttees (leather leg coverings that give the impression that a person is wearing boots with their jodhpurs (riding britches)). After the necessary paperwork was completed, my dad was put on a bus and taken to the construction site— the B Reactor. Of course, my dad was very tight-lipped about his job as an electrician, but later he said he was very much in awe at what he observed, and truly amazed at Man’s ingenuity.

When our A house was ready for occupancy in June 1944, my mom, sisters, and I came to Richland, where we have been every since. Just going to the grocery store was an adventure. We caught the bus on the corner, arrived at the “shopping center” on George Washington Way, and went into the grocery store and picked out groceries. We probably managed to find half the things we wanted, or had only half enough ration stamps to pay for them.

Next we stopped at the dairy to pick up milk. There was a store for beer and pop, and the post office was at the end of the street—one-stop shopping! But with lines of shoppers, it would often be an all-day endeavor.

Standing in line was not all that bad. We made friends and sympathized with others’ “hardships” and homesickness. We Atomic Age pioneers incurred adventures that had never been experienced before, and probably never will be again.

Dupus Boomer on the Home Front

Gene Weisskopf

Carol’s fond and vivid memories of life in the first days of Richland’s atomic history are shared by many others, and captured, to a degree, in the character of Dupus Boomer, one of the institutions of early Richland and the creation of Hanford worker and cartoonist Dick Donnell (deceased).

Dupus has only been available in borrowed copies of the two compilations of the cartoons, or at the library if you’re lucky enough to find it on the shelves. But now you’ll be able to own a collection that’s being published by CREHST. The volume contains both Dupus Boomer collections that were printed many years ago, and will be available by the end of January for $6.95.

The name Dupus Boomer is a permanent fixture in the Hanford psyche. I wonder if anyone working at Hanford today would recognize the constant befuddlement and those bemused looks.

Czar Talk

Dru Butler

Dru Butler is Bechtel’s “B Reactor Team Lead,” otherwise known to us (affectionately and somewhat accurately) as the “B Czar.” As cleanup work is planned, budgeted, and scheduled at the reactor, all the paperwork, coordination, and implementation should go through her desk. If there’s a B-related question or issue, Dru is the right place to start looking for an answer. She’s been a strong supporter (and now a member) of the BRMA and our goals, as we are of hers. Here she gives us a quick update on B Reactor.

The B Reactor Project is progressing well and gaining momentum on several fronts. The focus for this year, FY01 (October 2000 – September 2001), is twofold—completion of required regulatory documentation (an Engineering Evaluation/Cost Analysis, or “EECA”) as required by EPA, and increasing “ease of access” to B Reactor.

The B Reactor EE/CA is being prepared and will detail the cost and feasibility of various cleanup options. Several of these options are compatible with B Reactor serving as a museum. A public meeting will be held in the summer of 2001 to discuss and gain input on the Draft EE/CA prior to DOE-RL and EPA making a final decision.

Access to B Reactor remains on the upswing. Recent tours in which BRMA participated included visits by DOE-HQ Export Analysts, DOE National Conference attendees, the State Dept., and Mr. Ryan and family.

After a detailed survey, the radiological classification of B Reactor’s front face work area was down-posted. This reduces the cost of each tour by eliminating the need for a trained radiological escort.

Ongoing surveillance and maintenance at B Reactor included the completion of the roof repairs and related asbestos cleanup. While a new roof is still in our future, these repairs will provide five to six years of service. The heating system is being upgraded to provide up-to-code heat to warm the hallway and protect the water pipes during the winter.

The BHI crew (Don Eckert and his staff), who provide the day-to-day upkeep of B Reactor and assist our visitors, were recognized for their service with a Silver Award by Mike Hughes, BHI president, and Tom Logan, BHI Vice President.

The FY01 budget for B Reactor totals nearly $550,000. This money is a result of the carry-over of funds from the FY00 budget. This money covers all B Reactor costs for the year, including tours, EE/CA preparation, and facility repairs and maintenance.

Who is the BRMA?

Gene Weisskopf

We held elections at our December meeting at Atomic Ale, a suitable locale for such important occasions. The suite of nominees was swept into office by a unanimous vote—a reassuring resolution after the fiasco of the national elections. One reason for the affirmation is that there weren’t dozens of people clamoring for the positions—you won’t find cut-throat campaigning in the B Reactor Museum Association.

So when we get a new face on the board, it’s reason to rejoice! Welcome Warren Sevier, our new Treasurer; we really appreciate your stepping forward. And don’t worry, we’re not at all suspicious of the many trips you have planned in the coming months.

As Warren comes into office, Joe Hedges leaves that position, while maintaining his job as Membership guy and the just-calling-to-remind-you-there’s-a-meeting guy. Joe was given a warm “thank you” at the December meeting, and rightfully so. He’s been a constant presence in the group ever since I joined five. . . no, six years ago. And that continuous interaction is what I think the BRMA really is—not necessarily grand world-changing action, but a constant presence that’s a reminder to the world. Joe’s steady support and unflagging interest are keys to our success.

So now that I’ve said that, what can I do to fill out the rest of this column? Lest you forget or don’t yet know, I can mention that nobody in the BRMA has been paid for their efforts. I and a few others were fortunate to participate in the HAER history projects, for which we were paid. But other than that, we’re all a bunch of volunteers. The pay-off is that we get to learn about and discuss a fascinating topic, and pursue a goal that almost no one else in the world even knows about. Thanks to you all, and welcome to 2001, the 21st century.

What’s Been Going on Since October 1, 2000

10/5 – Lyle and Gene go on a “track inspection” tour with Dick Fox, Howard Kallio, and John Haakenson of the Tri-City Railroad company. It’s only a driving tour on the roads, but they see Hanford from a railroader’s perspective, in regards to future train tours of the site out to B Reactor. They also get a peek at the classic “executive rail car” that’s parked at Tri-City Railroad. It’s been beautifully restored, with a kitchen, several bedrooms, a lovely dining room, and a comfortable and well-appointed sitting room at the rear. With, of course, the all-important platform at the back of the car for making speeches, etc.

The tour of the Site follows the two main rail lines that form a loop though the site. The A line runs parallel to the river (but well inland) serving the 100 Areas and the Hanford and White Bluffs town sites. The B line cuts through the center of the Site and serves the 200 Areas. The A line was put out of service almost 20 years ago, but the B line was in somewhat regular use until a couple of years ago. Railroad track holds up well in our climate, and it is likely that once any overgrown brush is removed, a thorough inspection will show that only minor repairs or upgrades are needed.

The possibilities for the railroad are endless. The A and B lines come together at the far end of the site, basically near B Reactor, and could also be accessible from Highway 24 near the Vernita Bridge. Even if the tracks were made available before the reactor itself was open to the public, an awful lot of Hanford Site history could be shown and explained to visitors on a two or three hour tour of the Site. Remember, there’s more to see on the Site besides the world’s first full-scale nuclear reactor. There’s the geology and lava flows that defined the region, the really big Ice Age floods, the Columbia River, the local flora and fauna and fishes, the native Americans and early settlers, and of course, the Hanford plutonium production plant that began during the Manhattan Project and played such a huge role in world history.

Remember, too, that in an open-to-the-public scenario, the train would be just one way for visitors to see the Site or get to B Reactor. They could also go by boat tour, cars, buses, bicycles and feet. Maybe blimps, too.

10/6 – Gene updates the BRMA Web site with the Moderator.

10/9 – Lyle talks to Dru Butler about the graphite cache at the excess property yard. How much of it do we want to see preserved, where can it be stored, who owns it and who will have future rights to it.

10/11 – Responding to an invitation from Todd Kenning and Terry Andre of CREHST, Gene speaks to a science class of 8th graders at Park Middle school in Kennewick about B Reactor and its role in history. Certainly a good exercise for Gene, and a worthwhile participation in CREHST’s ongoing education outreach.

10/11 – Del, Lyle, and Gene attend a meeting at DOE in Richland to discuss current and pending issues regarding B Reactor, including what to do with artifacts that often get dropped off at B Reactor. There is still no central repository for Hanford artifacts, so oftentimes items are left at what seems like an appropriate place, which B really isn’t.

This led to a discussion of keeping the artifacts that are at B clean and cared for, and what to do when serious renovations get going at the reactor. The graphite cache at K Reactor is discussed, there’s something like 320 tons of supposedly B Reactor-sized blocks, but they will have to be cleared, radiologically, before they can leave K Reactor. We’d love to see them saved for making a full-size mockup of at least one corner of a 105-B pile, and for future use in Hanford-related art, souvenirs, awards, and the like.

While roof repairs were being made at B Reactor, flaking asbestos was discovered (not surprisingly) on one of the steam pipes on the roof. Such issues will be dealt with when the building is put through its museum-making upgrades, but for now the problem was handled by enclosing the pipe in a thin sheet metal wrap to hold it together until permanent repairs are made.

10/12 – Gene mails a package to John Wheeler at Princeton containing a few mementos of his visit to Richland and B Reactor last August, including some photographs, a newsletter, the photograph of us at Atomic Ale and signed by everyone at our October meeting, a copy of the first patent for the “nucleonic reactor,” and a few HEW reports that Dr. Wheeler authored circa 1944.

10/13 – Del, Lyle, and Gene get together to discuss the upcoming B Reactor EE/CA report. They go through the EE/CA that was done for D Reactor in August 2000. Much of that document could be folded into one for B Reactor, with the addition of one more alternative plan—upgrading the building to make it safe and accessible to the public. One question that arises is how to quantify the benefits to the public when money is spent to keep B Reactor open, instead of cocooned like the other reactors?

10/16 – Gene mailed copies of our amended bylaws to WA state and the IRS. However, as we find a month or two later, neither of them really wanted them anyway. Better safe than jailed.

10/16 – Bookkeeping with Joe Hedges, Roger Rohrbacher, and Gene. Roger sent Joe a list of all recent tour guide trips to B Reactor (there was lots of activity in August and September). Joe writes and mails honorarium checks to the eight tour guides involved. Joe and Gene reconcile our bank statement with our records in Gene’s computer, and then Gene takes various deposits to the bank and transfers $5,000 from our HAER account into our everyday BRMA account.

10/16 – After several conversations with Dick Fox at Tri-City Railroad, Gene e-mails him regarding the BRMA’s ability to promote or run a railroad tour of the Site. We’re not in that market, and it seems vastly premature to expect the DOE to open the tracks through the site. But we would be happy to lend our support to whatever rail projects might develop.

10/31 – Gene and Lyle go to B Reactor to look at the graphite that’s stored there. The reactor is open because Dru Butler and the EE/CA team are doing a walk-through of the building. Met Janet from CH2MHill, and Rob(?) Bechtel’s new rad guy (replaced Michelle). Lyle and Gene count the graphite blocks in the storeroom, note their dimensions and whether they have are bored through or not. Interesting that most of the blocks are the standard 4-3/16” that were used in the early Hanford reactors, but quite a few are 3.75” square.

After leaving the reactor, Lyle and Gene drive to the Midway substation on the other side of Highway 24 to see if storage facilities would be available for artifacts and, especially, graphite. They meet Paula Golemon who shows them the substation office and various breakers and switches (and tells them that the substation was called Midway because it was halfway between Bonneville and Grand Coulee; it was built about the same time as Coulee).

They also peek at the transformer repair shop next door, and talk with her boss, Jay Van Buren, about the possibilities of renting or otherwise securing storage space there. They are told that the BPA is already in discussions with Fish and Wildlife about their having a vehicle repair center there, so we should talk to them.

11/1 – Gene adds a few comments and suggestions to Dru Butler’s draft of B Reactor tour procedures. We’re hoping that a set of procedures will facilitate the process of running tours to B, making our job easier as guides and ensuring that the tours run smoothly for everybody involved.

11/1 – Del, Lyle, and Gene meet Dru Butler and Doug Duvon at Bechtel, and then they all go to see the graphite cache at the 1168 building excess property yard. Doug is “Mr. Recycling” at Bechtel, and is familiar with the process of moving materials in and out of excess property. Because much of the graphite has a “nuclear grade” classification, it’s on a “trigger list” and requires special scrutiny before it can be released from the excess property inventory.

We found 33 large pallets with a huge variety of graphite blocks, columns, tiles, channels, and chunks. Much of it was produced for reactors, and some appeared to have been made for in situ vitrification work (such as graphite cylinders about 4” x 36” long that would have been used as electrodes). All had been outdoors for several years and looked to be in perfect, unweathered condition.

The excess property shop will be moving to a new location in the near future, so Dru and Doug urged us to move quickly on writing Keith Klein to have the graphite transferred to us, or at least not taken to the dump, etc.

11/1 – Del, Lyle, and Gene attend a meeting at Bechtel to discuss the upcoming EE/CA report. Also attending were Dru, Tom Marceau, Chris Smith from the DOE, and Janet Badden from the EE/CA team at CH2M Hill (the contractor for the report). Yes, all the elements of the D Reactor EE/CA will more or less appear in the one for B—alternatives including ISS (cocooning), and so on, plus the “public access” alternative that could lead to a museum. There will be a preferred alternative recommendation.

Chris Smith reminds us that the Auditable Safety Analysis report (ASA) will be put together after the bulk of hazard mitigation work has been done. Also coming up will be a Removal Action Work Plan report (RAWP), which will describe how waste will be dealt with during cleanup at B, a plan that is standard for other Hanford cleanup projects.

11/2 – Lyle and Gene return to the 1168 excess property yard to photograph the pallets of graphite. This time there’s a big crowd there, including Dru, Doug, and Sandy Johnson from Bechtel, Pam Daly from DynCorp (which runs the excess property business), Vanita Boston from DOE (the person who would be dealing with the paperwork if the graphite is headed toward release), and Gary Carlson, the “storekeeper” at the excess property yard. We take photos and video, go from box to box describing what’s in each one, and taking some sample measurements.

11/8 – Gene again hooks up with Todd and Terry from CREHST to speak to a class at Southridge High School. He emphasizes the many threads of history that are woven through B Reactor. Judging by the number and depth of questions afterwards, it appears that the students were paying attention.

11/8 – Del, Lyle, and Gene meet with Wanda Munn and Sandy Matheson of the Environmental Science & Technology Foundation (ESTF) the organization that oversees CREHST. The informal discussion revolves around ESTF’s wanting to define each other’s goals and interests, and where they overlap, diverge, or collide. They invite us to one of their future meetings.

11/9 – Gene records a telephone interview with BRMA member Tom Kelly in Texas. Tom was one of the earliest of Hanford reactor operators. He was trained at Chicago from August 1943 until he was sent to Hanford in January 1944. He started up the 305 test pile and operated it while testing samples of graphite and uranium for the production piles. He was a shift supervisor for the startup of B and D Reactors. He left Hanford at the beginning of August 1945, before the Hiroshima bomb was dropped, and continued to work for DuPont outside the nuclear industry.

11/17 – Gene meets with local artist and illustrator Chris Walling to discuss ideas for B-related art, posters, and promotions.

11/17 – Gene receives a phone call from Michael Ryan in Bellingham regarding his father, Bill (William McCoy) Ryan, who is coming west for the holiday and would like to visit Hanford and, if possible, see B Reactor. Bill spent less than a year at Hanford in 1944, and has not returned since.

11/17 – Gene talks with Dru Butler about arranging a tour of B Reactor for the Ryans. Dru lives up to her “Czar” title and arranges to have the reactor opened for their visit. Gene talks with the Ryans to schedule their trip to Hanford; Bill is very excited about returning to the reactor he helped build and start up.

11/26 – Bill Ryan comes to Richland from his home in Wilmington to visit B Reactor, accompanied by his son Michael and daughter-in-law Barbara. Gene drops off a number of B Reactor-related documents and videos at the Hampton Inn for their perusal. That evening, the Ryans invite Gene to dinner where they get to know one another.

11/27 – Ron Kathren, Lyle, and Gene attend a graphite meeting at Bechtel, where Ron’s expertise is put to the job of devising a survey plan for getting the graphite cache out of storage in the K-East Reactor.

11/27 – Del calls Gene to report that he’d been to an excess property auction at the 1168 building and found that the huge cache of graphite was..gone! Could be bad news, but it turns out to be good news—the graphite was moved from the yard and not sold or dumped.

11/27 Gene takes Bill Ryan to breakfast, along with a tape recorder. The result is about an hour on audio tape of Bill’s time spent at Oak Ridge and Hanford. Afterwards, a tour to B Reactor with all three Ryans. Besides getting the reactor opened for us, Dru has a large van to carry everyone out to the Site. She serves as the driver (a truly adaptable Czar) and Tom Marceau of Bechtel joins us with his expertise about the Site’s cultural riches (all the way from its geology through the floods, native Americans, European settlers, and its atomic history.).

The BRMA supplies our own expertise and personality, too. Annette Heriford brings memories from her early days in the town of Hanford and experiences since; Dee McCullough brings his experience with the early days of Hanford during the Manhattan Project and his years of reactor experience; Norm Miller brings his reactor experience from the “2nd (3rd?) generation” at Hanford (post-1950); Ron Kathren brings his health physics expertise; and Gene brings his full 5-years of experience dealing with B Reactor’s history. The tour is a great success, and the Ryans are extremely grateful for the opportunity to see the place where Bill Ryan worked to end World War II and bring the Atomic Age to planet Earth.

11/30 – Gene accompanies a tour to B Reactor for two from the Washington Dept. of Ecology, along with Dru and Chris Smith. As always, those who haven’t seen B Reactor before are greatly impressed, both with the building but also its historical ramifications.

12/4 – Ron Kathren sends his thoughts about the current radiological postings at B Reactor, and some of the radiological issues that were brought out in the Phase II and early reports. Much of the work of making B publicly accessible will revolve around these sorts of issues.

12/6 – Gene and Larry Denton serve as tour guides for a B Reactor tour for a Dept. of Defense group hosted by PNNL

12/6 – The BRMA board (including Del, Lyle, Gene, Joe Hedges, Warren Sevier, and Jim Stoffels) attends the ESTF (CREHST) board meeting to discuss our mutual and exclusive goals and interests. The informal reason for the meeting was to get a feeling for where our respective interests lie—how our goals overlap or diverge, and where we might share resources or bump noses. Specifically, the board was asking us to write a joint letter to the DOE in support of one another, but the underlying specifics are yet to be determined. The issue did bring up a lot of thoughts about who wants what and where.

12/7 – Tour at B Reactor for a group from an Integrated Safety Management Systems national conference being hosted by PNNL. Larry Denton, Bob Smith, and Gene serve as tour guides.

12/8 – Del and Gene meet with Dru to discuss ongoing and future projects at B Reactor. One future issue to deal with is that there is currently no money in the current budget (2001) for work at B—all the work to be done is being funded from Bechtel’s savings from the previous year’s budget on other projects.

12/10 – BRMA meeting at Atomic Ale in Richland; elections; outgoing Treasurer Joe Hedges recognized and honored with a plaque that is actually a clock that is synched to the NIST atomic clock radio signal in Boulder, CO. Seemed an appropriate and useful token of appreciation.

12/11 – Del and Gene attend the DOE’s “accelerated cleanup” meeting at the Hanford House in Richland, where Keith Klein presented the plan to speed up work in the 100 Areas so that land along the river could be taken out of the Hanford cleanup before the year 2012. Keith includes B Reactor (and a tip of the hat to the BRMA) and the potential that exists there for public use. He gushed a bit about what the reactor represents, the “can-do” abilities of the US, and how standing before its front face is awe-inspiring. Way to go Keith!

During the question-and-answer period, Gene gives a spiel about B Reactor and that, in terms of acceleration, it resides in the perfect location for early release—in the far northwest corner of the site, with a public road adjoining that corner of the site (Highway 24 at the Vernita Bridge). Gene suggested they use B Reactor as a “poster child” for the accelerated cleanup, and to illustrate the “riches” (cultural and financial) that lie in waiting on the Hanford Site.

Doug Sherwood from the EPA also referenced B Reactor and how the process was “moving toward our vision for B Reactor”. All very encouraging.

12/12 – Gene teams up once more with Todd and Terry for a CREHST history-in-your-backyard program at Lincoln Elementary school, for two classes of 5th graders. As before, Todd and Terry talked about events leading up to B Reactor, then Gene takes over for about a half-hour. This time he generates quite a few questions, especially considering that the audience is 11 and 12 years old. The discussion seemed to dwell on the atomic bomb aspects of B Reactor’s history, including Gene’s remembrances of the duck-and-cover days of his time in the 5th grade. One of the kids mentioned that his grandfather had worked at Hanford, while another wondered about the possibilities of there being a WW III. The reactor is such a great focal point for discussion.

12/18 – Gene e-mails comments from the BRMA to the DOE regarding the proposal to accelerate cleanup along the river corridor. (See the article in this issue of The Moderator)

12/21 – Del, Jim Williams, and Gene attend a visit to the White Bluff’s bank to survey it and discuss how it might be preserved. Dee Lloyd (DOE) and Dave Harvey (PNNL) escort us out there, in the company of local architect Jim Dillman , Adam Fyall (Benton County), and Dex Lien, a retired but still active structural engineer. The DOE just released a feasibility study on the building; this tour was to show the building to interested parties and get some ideas about its preservation.

1/6 – Gene’s better half, or even two-thirds, reads the draft of The Moderator so it can be called finished.

Critical Mass

There’s one thing you can count on when someone joins the BRMA—they’re not doing it to receive a free toaster or portable radio. Most people know nothing about B Reactor, so when someone joins our ranks, it’s because they either know or have recently learned of B Reactor and its wide-ranging role in history.

We have new members to welcome who come from all over the country and with a variety of backgrounds and interests.

Harley Cowan Portland, OR
Tim Cowan Milwaukie, OR
Vernon Holt Mendham, NJ
Leo & Linda Munson Richland
Donald Picatti Yakima
Richard Picatti Yakima
Bill Ryan Wilmington, DE
Society of Radioactive Women Winlock
Evelyn Thompson Hillsboro, OR
Bill Ryan was our visitor from the past–1944–who came to Richland to revisit the reactor he helped build and start up—B Reactor.

Mr. Holt found the BRMA via our Web site and quickly sent in a membership application. He says that he was employed at Hanford from 1950 to 1953, and worked on the preliminary design of the 105 H Reactor, and the design of components in the final stage of the 105 C Reactor. He sent us the following remembrances:

I stumbled across your site while looking for reports on Nuclear Reactor Safety and Waste Disposal that I did some work on after retiring. I ran into reports edited by a former colleague still at Hanford, Warner Blyckert. I then clicked on other links to “Blyckert,” including several folks in Sweden, and one to Mrs. Blyckert’s 2nd grade class photo, from 1962 in Richland (apparently she struck quite a chord with those kids who have a chat page), with links to Hanford and 105 B Museum.

I worked at Hanford when we had high hopes of saving the future of the world with unlimited cheap electric power!

As a 20 year old just out of college, I had far more responsibility for spending many millions in the 105 C and 105 H Reactors design and construction than on any program since. Awesome. (Scared me then and does yet.)

We forged ahead in great haste in the McCarthy Cold War era, under the great GE management slogans “Give a person a good reputation to live up to and they will,” and “With GE you go First Class.” And we did, even on plane trips! I also learned to fly at Pasco Airport under the tutelage of the great Colonel Parkinson, in an Aeronca with zero margin for icing.

The 105 B should be a National Historic site and future treasure. Our descendants won’t believe it!

Thanks for your thoughts and support Vern, and thanks and greetings to our other new members. You’ll all be able to take a bow when the world discovers B Reactor.

Stop, Look, and —!

dupus011George Washington Boulevard is our main artery and it could sure use a few tourniquets about 7:45AM and 5:00PM.

Dick Donnell