House approves amendment to create Manhattan Project National Historic Park

By Geoff Folsom, Tri-City HeraldJune 14, 2013 

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill Friday that includes an amendment for establishing a Manhattan Project National Historic Park at Hanford's B Reactor, as well as at sites in Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Los Alamos, N.M.

The 2014 National Defense Authorization Act passed the House by a 315-108 vote, with all Washington representatives voting in favor. It still needs to be approved by the Senate.

The amendment calls for the Department of Energy -- within a year of the bill's passage -- to enter an agreement with the Department of the Interior to establish the park, with an eye toward enhancing public access, management, interpretation and historic preservation.

The amendment was authored by Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Pasco.

Another amendment would transfer 1,641 acres of Hanford land DOE no longer needs to the Tri-City Development Council. The land is designated for industrial use.

TRIDEC's lobbyist, Tim Peckinpaugh, pushed for both amendments. He said the Hanford land could attract a large business for economic development, and the historic park will help educate the public about what arguably was the most historic event of the 20th century.

"Don't tear everything down," Peckinpaugh said.

"There is great history here that folks should learn about."

Though the Senate is expected to pass the bill, it could leave the Hanford amendments out. But they still could be included in a final bill that would be worked out in a conference committee, likely in the fall.

"This is a $600 billion-plus bill, there's lots of issues to be talked about," Peckinpaugh said. "The good news is (the amendments) are going to be in play."

After a separate Hastings-sponsored bill on the historic park failed last year under special rules, which require a two-thirds House vote, Hastings included it in the defense authorization act this year.

"Doc made a very bold move," Peckinpaugh said. "It's very historic for our community to see this done."

In a statement, Hastings said the historic park is the best way to preserve the B Reactor and other sites for decades to come.

"I'm pleased we were able to get this amendment approved and will continue to look for every opportunity to advocate for the historical park until it becomes law," he said.

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