Nov 16, 2012
When Larry & Lani attended the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Society of Architectural Historians conferences in Spokane week before last, they had also a rare chance to visit the Hanford nuclear reservation and to tour the inside of Reactor B, which was developed as part of the Manhattan Project.
In 1943, agricultural towns were relocated from the vast Hanford site to allow development of nuclear facilities during WWII. The remains of 1916 Hanford high school pictured above are about all that’s left of the former town of Hanford, and a crumbling remnant of a bank marks the site of the former town of White Bluff, which had a population of about 3,000 before the mandated wartime relocations. Residents were given only 30 days to relocate elsewhere.
Reactor B, pictured below, was the first full-scale plutonium production reactor in the world and is a stunning example of a wartime effort to jump from scientific theory to large-scale production with hardly any time for testing or development. Ongoing cleanup of contamination is also part of that legacy. Did you know that about 80% of all plutonium in the world was produced on the Hanford reserve? All in all, an interesting, yet eerie, part of our country’s past from which to learn.