THE MODERATOR – Winter 2003
From the control room
A big “Howdy”, and welcome from the new president of our organization. I am hoping there is little need to introduce myself since I have been an active member in this organization since the conception of the Association back in 1990, and an old “Hanfordite” since 1951. You elected me, now your must endure.
Although we certainly have not yet achieved our ultimate goal of opening the reactor building as a fully accessible public museum, we have made giant strides in advancing that goal over these long years. Maybe our one redeeming grace can be paraphrased by the old adage that “Persistence beats talent and good looks every time”.
During the past decade we have suffered several discouraging setbacks such as losing the two water towers, the local guard house, intermittent use of rest rooms, and frustrating rules and regulations for obtaining visitor access, not to mention the seemingly endless agony of enduring study after study to determine safety conditions and final disposition.
On the other hand our successes have been great: The reactor is still intact; needed building maintenance has been completed; new and improved graphic displays have been provided; many tours have been conducted; we have gained more and more supporters, and during the past couple of years our friends at Bechtel have completed numerous safety upgrades to the building.
In April last year we received official notification from the DOE that they, “do not want to be in the Museum business,” and they ask that we explore options and potential partnerships for the long-term preservation mission for the B Reactor. The most likely agency of the Federal government to be that “partner” and to become the operators for the museum appears to the National Park Service. As your president for this year, I plan on putting forth a major effort toward bringing the Park Service on board. Our friends at Fish and Wildlife, Managers of the Columbia Reach Monument, support having the Park Service as a neighbor and to be the operators of a B Reactor Museum. Our job is to get the support to make this happen.
The proposed film/exhibit production, “Building the B Reactor”, by the Atomic Heritage Foundation, when completed, would be a wonderful tool for public education and serve as an introduction to tour groups. We plan on supporting that effort this year. More about that project in this issue.
A separate endeavor that I believe is worthy of our efforts, but not actively pursued to date, is to prepare the documentation for the nomination of B Reactor as a National Historic Monument.
I encourage all of our members to hang in there and to volunteer your expertise and help in accomplishing the magnitude of work needed to achieve our objectives.
BRMA Board Members
- President: Del Ballard
- Vice President: Hank Kosmata
- Secretary: Madeleine Brown
- Treasurer: Warren Sevier
- History Artifacts and Exhibits: Lyle Wilhelmi
- Membership: Joe Hedges
- Government Relations: Madeleine Brown
- Health Safety & Engineering: Del Ballard
- Moderator Editor: Tim Johnson
Contact Congress – NOW! Please contact your U.S. Senator
Secretary and Past-president, BRMA
It’s more than a cliché that it takes an act of Congress to get some things done. We need Congress to tell the National Park Service to study B Reactor’s historic value and report on preservation alternatives.
DOE does not want to run a museum at B Reactor, and that’s not all bad. But we do need a museum operator, and National Park Service is the obvious choice for this national treasure in our back yard.
The first step in making B Reactor a National Historic Site or otherwise getting it into the National Park Service’s custody is for Congress to authorize NPS to study B Reactor.
It may not be too late to get some action in FY 2003, although that fiscal year began last September. Congress has yet to pass a budget for 2003. The House of Representatives finished its work on the budget for the Interior Department, but the Senate has not. So it’s especially important to contact Senators THIS MONTH!
It’s also helpful to keep Representatives aware of our desires, so keep up the messages to Doc Hastings or whoever your Congressman is.
To save B Reactor, Congress needs to tell the Department of Interior to study B Reactor. So politely and clearly request Congress to add $400K and language like the following to the FY03 Omnibus Parks Bill: “National Park Service shall prepare a report that assesses historic significance and evaluates preservation alternatives of the B Reactor at the Department of Energy’s Hanford Site. NPS shall complete this study in FY2003.”
Please don’t worry about writing the ultimate perfect note–just get out your pen or turn on your computer and do it!
How to contact Congress
U.S. Postal service works but is to be avoided; the post is exceedingly slow due to the anthrax scare last year. So please do not use regular mail for this urgent message. Instead, email or fax your message (this gives the congressional office a piece of paper that they must deal with).
Senator Maria Cantwell’s fax: (202) 228-0514
Senator Patty Murray’s fax: (202) 224-0238
Congressman Doc Hastings’ fax: (202) 225-3251
For BRMA supporters in other congressional districts: I found these fax numbers by going to http://www.house.gov/hastings and http://cantwell.senate.gov and http://murray.senate.gov. You can just insert your own senators’ and representative’s names and with a few clicks (try “contact us” or the like) obtain the fax number.
Email can also easily be sent directly to your representative or senator usually by finding their web home page then under “contact me”, or alternatively through the following link:
Senator Cantwell’s local staff told Lyle and me last month that Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray are aware of our request and we may have a basis for optimism. But nothing is assured, so we must keep writing. Advertisers know it well–repetition helps deliver the message. Please help amplify this important message.
BRMA supporters with email may notice this request strongly resembles the one you received on September 20. To date I have word from only four stalwart B Reactor supporters that they followed through on my request. Please, please, make your voice heard! It’s free, it’s easy, it’s vitally important for B Reactor’s future, and it’s your Constitutionally protected right.
What’s new at the B Reactor?
Project Update for October – December 2002
Bechtel Hanford, Inc
The first quarter of FY03 included several tours and visits, despite ongoing security concerns and badging limitations. Hazard mitigation work continued as planned with various improvements along the tour route. Outside of the B Reactor, the B/C Remedial Action Project has had a big visual impact upon the area.
The Environmental Restoration Contract under which Bechtel Hanford, Inc is now operating has been extended once again, this time until April 30, 2003. An award of the River Corridor Contract (RCC) is expected early in 2003, and B Reactor will be part of this new contract and work scope. Three teams of contractors are competing for the RCC.
B/C Remedial Action Project
The B/C Remedial Action project has excavated and shipped 946,264 tons of contaminated soil, old pipes and debris to Hanford’s Environmental Restoration Disposal Facility since the project began almost two years ago in the B/C Area. Major sections of pipeline including the reinforced concrete effluent pipeline from B Reactor have been removed. The project and its heavy equipment continue to maintain a 25-foot buffer zone from the outside walls of B Reactor to ensure the protection of the structure.
Recent clean up work has centered north and east of the B Reactor. The project is scheduled for completion in 2005, and at that time the B Reactor fencing that was removed to enable the project to proceed will be replaced.
Fall Tours Summary
About 100 people had the opportunity to visit the B Reactor in the first quarter of FY03. The groups included: Nez Perce Tribal Leaders, EPA Richland Office, Bechtel Corporate managers, Russian Treaty Verifiers, the State Department, and US Military Interpreters. A BRMA guide was requested to host the Nez Perce tour.
Hazard Mitigation Upgrades
Lead paint and asbestos were encapsulated in the control room, basin viewing room and hallways. Paint was selected which matched the original color almost exactly. Improvements were made to exit doors and emergency lighting along the tour route to ensure compliance with fire life safety codes.
Hanford History on CD/ DVD – coming soon!
BRMA History Artifacts and Exhibits
Burt Pierard and Antony (Tony) Grambihler, two computer enthusiasts, wanted to save video and audio tapes to CDs or DVDs for other projects. Burt, a history buff who recently joined BRMA, volunteered to effect the transfer of video oral histories to DVDs. Not only that, but he volunteered to upgrade them with appropriate titles, credits and pictures to make the oral history a little more understandable.
Then another breakthrough came when Del Ballard told a neighbor what we were planning. That neighbor, Tony Grambihler (not a BRMA member), volunteered to help with the project. Tony took on the transfer of audio oral history tapes to CD and it was done almost like magic.
We are blessed because these two people not only have the sophisticated equipment to do the job, but have the energy to do it. They both go at a project with the same determination and vigor that grandma demonstrates when killing snakes with a stick.
Lyle Wilhelmi took on the task of producing colorful disc labels for each of the fifty or so CDs and DVDs He also extended an oral history database started by Gene Weisskopf, which can be used as a prototype for a database of oral histories kept in museums and pioneer organizations in the region.
It will be a lengthy project before we obtain the final result, but the end product will be something to be very proud of.
Our hats go off to Burt and Tony!
BRMA to get some airtime
Every 1st and 3rd Thursday, KONA’s Mike MacDonagh interviews someone for a “Time Capsule” program. The idea is to relate history to life in our community. Thanks to Connie Estep, BRMA was invited to a December 10 planning meeting to lay out the historic tidbits for 2003. We’ll have two interviews in 2003: first on August 7, to talk about how through B Reactor, this community impacted world history–and vice versa. On December 4, I (if no one else steps forward) will discuss the anniversary of the creation of the Manhattan District on December 5, 1942. And the rest, as they say, is history. Thank you CONNIE ESTEP for this opportunity!
What’s been going on since September 2002
An unofficial log of happenings from BRMA leaders
11/4-7 Madeleine Brown and Connie Estep attend a US Fish & Wildlife Service workshop to plan the future of the Hanford Reach National Monument. B Reactor’s preservation made it into the vision for the Monument’s future, and history in general got far more emphasis than usual in the Fish and Wildlife realm.
11/20 Lyle Wilhelmi makes a pitch to Tri-City Chamber of Commerce to seek a resolution of support
11/15 Cindy Kelly’s proposal received; Lyle photocopies it and Madeleine delivers copies to Board members.
12/1 Board meeting specifically to discuss Atomic Heritage Foundation proposal. Also the Board approved expenditures for oral history project.
12/05 Del Ballard attended a presentation (story telling) given by Gerry Taylor, who serves as a Trustee, Board of Directors for the National Atomic Museum Foundation, in Albuquerque, NM.
12/09 Madeleine & Lyle meet with Clark Mather, Senator Cantwell’s local staffer, about B Reactor’s fate and prospects for National Park Service
12/10 Madeleine Brown attends planning meeting of local historians to plan interviews for KONA radio’s “time capsule” program in 2003.
Welcome to the new members who have joined the BRMA in the past few months:
Maynard Plahuta, Richland, WA
Dee Lloyd, Spring Creek NV
Charles Rogers, Richland, WA
Doug Sherwood, West Richland, WA
Robert & Sally Ann Potter, Richland, WA
Tana Bader Inglima, Richland, WA