B Reactor park bill passes Senate committee

— A bill that would create a new national park that would include Hanford’s historic B Reactor will advance to the full Senate.

Senators on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee left the floor of the Senate briefly this afternoon and approved the bill to create a new Manhattan Project National Historical Park, according to Sen. Maria Cantwell’s staff.

The vote had been scheduled at a business meeting of the committee this morning, but not enough senators attended to approve it and several other bills under consideration.

Technical amendments to the bill were proposed and approved at the committee meeting, however.

The bill, introduced by Cantwell, D-Wash., and supported by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., would create a park with sites at Hanford and also Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Los Alamos, N.M.

Together those sites created the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, helping end World War II.

B Reactor was the world’s first full-scale nuclear reactor and produced plutonium for the world’s first atomic explosion, ushering in the atomic age.