Oct 19 2004

President Signs B Reactor Proposal

Cantwell-Hastings bipartisan effort enjoys strong local support

WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Bush signed into law a bipartisan bill authored by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Rep. Doc Hastings (D-WA-04) that looks to preserve the historic Hanford reactor.

"Hanford's B Reactor is an important historical marker for our nation," Cantwell said. "This site would be a tribute to both the scientific contributions and enormous sacrifices of those who labored at the B Reactor during its remarkable run. I thank Congressman Hastings for all his work on this bill of great importance to his constituents."

"I can think of no better anniversary gift than having our bill signed into law," said Hastings. "The B Reactor helps tell the story of a workforce who contributed to our nation's defense for many years. Senator Cantwell was the champion of this plan in the Senate and I appreciate her hard work."

For over a year, Hastings and Cantwell have been working together to develop the proposal that directs the National Park Service to conduct a study on the potential for developing and utilizing the B Reactor and other Manhattan Project facilities as historical sites.

The lawmakers said they decided to team up on this issue because it's important to the Tri-Cities community and it presents an opportunity to preserve a part of our unique history.

In 1943, only months after Enrico Fermi first demonstrated that controlled nuclear reaction was possible, ground was broken on the B Reactor - the world's first full-scale plutonium production reactor. B Reactor produced the plutonium for the first-ever manmade nuclear explosion - the Trinity test in New Mexico, and for the bomb dropped on Nagasaki that helped win World War II. Plutonium production at B Reactor continued until its decommission in 1968.

"The Manhattan Project National Historical Park Study Act," was approved by the Senate on September 15 and the House on September 28.

Local organizations that support development of a B Reactor historical park include: the Tri-Cities Visitor and Convention Bureau, the B Reactor Museum Association, and the Atomic Heritage Foundation.

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