National Park Service staff will get their first in-depth look at Hanford as they visit this week along with some Department of Energy officials from Washington, D.C.
An open house is planned 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Red Lion Hanford House, 802 George Washington Way, Richland. The location has changed since an earlier announcement.
The public can meet agency leaders, share ideas and help kick off planning to make historical areas at Hanford part of the new Manhattan Project National Historical Park.
The park also will include sites at Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Los Alamos, N.M., where additional workers raced to develop and produce the world’s first atomic weapons as Nazi Germany worked to develop the same technology.
Today, about 16 park service staff and five DOE officials from Washington, D.C., will tour historic areas of Hanford that could be included in the new national park.
The centerpiece will be B Reactor, the world’s first full scale nuclear reactor. It produced plutonium for the world’s first atomic explosion in the New Mexico desert and the bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, helping end World War II.
Officials also will see some of the few buildings still standing that belonged to residents forced to turn over their homes, farms and businesses to the government for the secret WWII project. They are expected to see the Bruggemann ranch, which includes a stone warehouse, plus the Hanford School and the White Bluffs Bank.
They also may see T Plant, where plutonium was chemically separated from irradiated uranium fuel. The plant could be included in the park when it is no longer needed for Hanford environmental cleanup work. A briefing on cleanup work across Hanford is planned.
Also on a tentative schedule are meetings with area tribes, Washington State University Tri-Cities officials and the Manhattan Project National Park Advocacy Committee, which was formed by Tri-City area governments and some civic or nonprofit groups.
The advocacy group has been preparing information for weeks to present to visiting officials, including possibilities for where a visitor center might be located and how the Tri-City area community is prepared to support the park effort.
With limited resources available from the park service for a new park, local officials are expecting the park service to be looking for ways to partner with the community.
Officials will spend some of their time in the Tri-Cities before they leave Friday morning working on a memorandum of agreement that should be completed late this year. It is expected to cover how the two agencies will divide up their responsibilities for the park and establish the park boundaries in each of the three states.
DOE and park service officials already have toured Oak Ridge historic sites and will tour Los Alamos sites in a few weeks.