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Defense bill provision would create Manhattan Project National Historical Park

By ANNETTE CARY | Tri-City Herald (Kennewick, Wash.) | Published: December 3, 2014

KENNEWICK, Wash. (Tribune News Service) — Hanford’s historic B Reactor appears close to becoming part of a new national park after the U.S. House Rules Committee released the annual bill that authorizes military policy overnight Tuesday.

The bill includes language that would create a Manhattan Project National Historical Park.

The staff of Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said Wednesday morning they felt confident the bill would pass both the House and Senate with the park provision intact.

Murray and Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash. have led the effort with support of Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., to create the park, which would include Manhattan Project sites at Hanford and in Tennessee and New Mexico.

The bill appeared at risk yesterday as some Senate Republicans opposed including land and conservation provisions in the bill.

B Reactor was the world’s first production-scale nuclear reactor and created the plutonium for the first nuclear explosion in the New Mexico desert and the bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, helping end World War II and ushering in the atomic age.

Other historic sites at Hanford also could be preserved as part of the proposed new park, including those that would tell the story of the people forced to turn their homes, farms and businesses over to the federal government during WWII to create the then-secret complex to produce plutonium.

The National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2015 also includes instructions on Rattlesnake Mountain and transferring some unused Hanford land for industrial development.

The bill would ensure that some public access to the summit of Rattlesnake Mountain be allowed., which Hastings has worked to require for years.

The mountain, the highest point in the Mid-Columbia, is part of the Hanford Reach National Monument but is closed to the public.

The Tri-City Development Council, working with local governments, has asked for 1,600 acres of Hanford land near Richland to be used for industrial development. TRIDEC is the Department of Energy's designated agency for the reuse of unneeded assets.

The bill would require a transfer before the end of September 2015, according to the Energy Communities Alliance.

The House could vote on the bill today or Thursday and the Senate is expected to consider the bill next week.

acary@tricityherald.com

©2014 Tri-City Herald (Kennewick, Wash.)
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A 1944 aerial photo of the Hanford B Reactor.

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