With all the news about the nuclear crisis in Japan and the questions arising about the future of the nuclear power industry, I thought it would be a good time to take a look back at the exciting days when President John F. Kennedy was the Tri-Cities to celebrate the building of the then world's largest nuclear power plant.
JFK says Hanford is ‘great asset’
Published in the Tri-City Herald
September 27, 1963
By R.F. Nowakowski
Herald staff writer
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Hanford "is a great national asset and I can assure you it will be maintained," President Kennewick declared yesterday, deep in the heart of the atomic land.
Speaking at the site of the new production reactor, where the world's largest nuclear-power plant is being built, the President marveled at the changes in the history of the world which came from the atom.
He was addressing 37,000 persons who made history just by attending the event, where few visitors were permitted before.
"This is an extraordinary place to visit," Kennedy asserted, noting the significant role of the atomic plant and its workers in the last 20 years.
He predicted even greater changes and said they will come about by the "release of human energy," the brainpower and talent used in a scientific age.
The President spoke to a shirt-sleeved, eye-shaded, dust-covered crowd which laughed at his jokes and reacted quickly with applause at references to support of the test-ban treaty and development of hydro resources in the Northwest.
Though he stood in one of the most remote sections of the 600-square-mile atomic plant, the President called the attention of the worked to the event taking place... the groundbreaking for the Washington Public Power Supply System power plant.
"What we are doing here they should be doing around the world, and I think we are going to show the way," he declared. Kennedy said he was "proud to come and express my thanks to you and my pride in the accomplishment which puts the United States in the lead in a whole new area." He said a great deal of credit must be given to the local citizens who continued the fight for the power plant. He named Owen Hurd, WPPSS managing director; Glenn C. Lee, Tri-City Herald publisher, and Donald A. Pugnetti, Herald managing editor.
Developing his theme of conservation of natural resources - the purpose of his five-day, 11-state tour - the President recalled the 10-year battle to win approval of Grand Coulee Dam.
"When we develop resources in the Northwest, we are not talking about one state, or two states or three states, we are talking about the United States," he said.
People move freely in this country from east to west and "once in a while, from west to east," he said, humorously.
Saying there were two points to conservation, Kennedy explained one is to protect what we have and use it well.
The other is to use science and technology to achieve new breakthroughs and conserve resources which were unknown 20 or 30 years ago.
It was an obvious reference to atomic energy.
He was wearing sunglasses when he sat down on the speakers' platform, but he had removed them for his talk.
Brilliant sunshine had raised the temperature to about 90 degrees.
Kennedy said science must be put to work improving our environment.
He said the nation must stay ahead in this area.
It must maintain an aggressive program of using hydro resources; develop new means of making coal (an "old fuel") more competitive, hasten development of low-cost atomic power, develop efficient interconnections between power systems and regions and make sure there is no monopoly on power.
Then, with a joke about his use of atomic energy, the President waved a uranium-tipped wand over a Geiger counter and activated a huge clamshell bucket to perform the ground breaking.
"I assume this is wholly on the level and there is no one over there working it," the President joked as the bucket fell to earth, closed and rose again with sand streaming.
He took the wand with him as a souvenir.