Signup for B Reactor tours starts Saturday

By Annette Cary, Tri-City HeraldFebruary 27, 2013 

Signup for 2013 tours of Hanford's historic B Reactor start at noon Saturday either online or by phone.

The tours are separate from the Hanford-wide tours, which include a briefer look inside B Reactor. Signup for those tours starts at 6 p.m. Monday at www5.hanford. gov/publictours.

To sign up for the B Reactor tours, go to manhattan projectbreactor.hanford.gov or call the B Reactor Tour Headquarters at 509-376-1647.

Registration also may be done in person at the tour headquarters at 2000 Logston Blvd. in Richland.

Usually the tour headquarters is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Thursday, plus Saturdays when tours are offered.

However, the phone will be answered noon to 4 p.m. this Saturday for the opening of tour registration and messages may be left when the office is closed.

B Reactor was the world's first production-scale reactor. It looks much as it did when it produced plutonium for the world's first atomic explosion and then the bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, helping end World War II.

Supporters of the reactor are lobbying to have Congress create a Manhattan Project National Historical Park that would include B Reactor.

New to the this year's tours is access to the base of the front face stairway for a view of the reactor's cooling water risers and cross-header valves.

The B Reactor Museum Association is constructing a diorama of the B Reactor campus to be included on the tour. It will show the size and complexity of the operations on the B Reactor campus, with its many facilities to support the reactor.

Starting in 2012, the minimum age to tour B Reactor was dropped from 18 to 12, and middle school and high school classes also are welcomed to sign up for tours starting Saturday.

Children between the ages of 12 and 17 must be accompanied on the tour by a parent or legal guardian.

Participants will board a bus to the reactor at tour headquarters and will be returned there about four and a half hours later. There is no charge, and citizens of any country may take the tours.

Since DOE began B Reactor tours in 2009, almost 30,000 visitors from all 50 states and 60 countries have visited B Reactor. DOE expects more than 10,000 visitors this year, including the scheduled tours and tours for groups, schools and officials, such as Congressional staff members.

The scheduled tours will begin at 8 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. April 1, 2, 3, 6, 15, 16, 18, 20, 29 and 30; May 1, 4, 14, 28, and 29; June 8, 11, 12, 24, 25 and 26; July 8, 9, 10, 22, 23, 24 and 27; Aug. 5, 6, 7, 19, 20, 21 and 24; and Sept. 3, 4, 16, 17, 18 and 21.

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