The Manhattan Project has undoubtedly made the Tri-Cities a larger metropolitan area with a strong technical and scientific makeup. Without the Manhattan Project, the Hanford and White Bluffs communities would most likely be a blossoming and flourishing agricultural community.
The Tri-Cities community has a significant number of its current attributes that directly or indirectly results from the Manhattan Project. Here are some of them:
w A high quality of life primarily based on the scientific and technically skilled work force with good paying jobs.
w High quality education opportunities offered by Columbia Basin College and Washington State University Tri-Cities (perhaps WSU Tri-Cities would not exist without the Manhattan Project).
w Quality medical facilities and capabilities.
w The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the Energy Northwest Columbia Generating Station, and the National Science Foundation's LIGO facility.
w A regional shopping center serving much of southeast Washington and northeast Oregon.
w A significant large Hanford site shrub steppe habitat benefiting and protecting endangered flora and fauna, and providing research opportunities.
w Recreational activities including quality golf courses and professional sport teams, and
w Quality airport facilities with accommodating flight schedules and destinations.
The most negative impact of the Manhattan Project is that parts of the Hanford site are burdened with extensive environmental damage with all its negative ramifications. As we all know, in a number of locations the contaminated land and groundwater will last for many years (in some cases hundreds) requiring constant responsible vigilance.
On the other hand, without the Manhattan Project, one certain outcome would be an agricultural community encompassing the Hanford site which would be very compatible with current agricultural enterprises. This would provide all the economic and societal benefits generally derived from progressive agricultural endeavors. The societal benefits are judged by many to be very significant and meaningful. These friendly, warm, inviting, community interactions and living patterns of farm-based communities are difficult to measure but masterfully portrayed in many of Norman Rockwell's paintings.
Whether the bottom line impact of the Manhattan Project is positive or negative primarily is left up to each individual's interests, experiences, lifestyle and perspective. I lean toward saying the overall Manhattan Project impact is positive. However, coming from a farming community I recognize the positive attributes of an agricultural community -- which would likely be the case without the Manhattan Project. And sometimes I miss the great things a smaller agricultural community provides.
-- MAYNARD PLAHUTA, Richland