Two men in white Tyvek coveralls and gas masks eased glowing rods into place, gently maneuvering the units with giant silver tongs in full view of passersby on Richland's Lee Boulevard.
The work was met with curious stares and cautious glances -- eyes darting between the radiant rods and the "Danger Radioactive" sign hanging dubiously close to the activity at hand.
Aaron Burks, owner of Atomic Ale Brewpub and Eatery, had a vision, and Thursday it came to fruition.
"I wanted to be the first nuclear-powered brewery, so I needed some nuclear fuel rods," Burks said with a wry smile.
He added, in jest, "I got on the Internet, and I was able to secure some from Iran."
The "fuel rods" adorning Atomic Ale's recently completed outdoor patio are actually acrylic tubes stuffed with smaller glass rods and backlit by low-voltage LED lights.
The effect creates blue rings around the interior rods -- giving them the familiar azure tint of a radioactive nuclear fuel rod.
"I wanted it to look like a real fuel rod, but also kind of cartoonish," Burks said.
Finishing touches should include the addition of stainless steel plates behind the fuel rods, which sit in arched recesses built into the patio's brick walls.
Burks is thinking of adding blue bulbs to the patio's globe lights and spot lights to enhance the neon effect. He also is toying with the idea of placing a mock Geiger counter at the restaurant's entrance.
"I want to keep the ideas going like that," he said, adding, "Whether you agree or disagree with what happened at Hanford, it's part of our history."
Atomic Ale opened in 1997 and features nuclear-themed beers and dishes such as the atomic grinder, nuclear fettucine, reactor core pizza, half-life Hefeweizen and plutonium porter chocolate containment cake.
-- Drew Foster: 509-582-1513; firstname.lastname@example.org