The race starts March 8 to get seats on popular bus tours of the Hanford nuclear reservation scheduled during 2011.
Registration will be done only online for Hanford tours and will open at 12:01 a.m. March 8. In 2010, all seats for the year were gone within 12 hours, with reservations for more than 1,000 seats claimed in the first 15 minutes.
Registration for separate tours of just the historic B Reactor also have been scheduled. Online registration starts at 12:01 a.m. March 15. Unlike the Hanford tours, registration also will be accepted for B Reactor tours by calling 373-2774 or visiting B Reactor Tour Headquarters at 2000 Logston Blvd., Richland, Mondays through Thursdays.
To register online for either tour, go to www.hanford.gov. Look for "Hanford Tours" under the quick links.
"Folks are spending tax dollars to clean up Hanford, and we want to show them what they are getting for their money," said Rich Buel, Department of Energy spokesman.
The tours start at 2000 Logston Blvd. and include an overview of the history of the nuclear reservation, which produced plutonium during World War II and the Cold War, and also the environmental cleanup work being done now.
The five-hour tours will include about 75 minutes spent at B Reactor.
The tour also will drive past the old Hanford and White Bluffs town sites, including the old Hanford High School. The government took over the communities to make way for the Manhattan Project during WWII.
The bus will stop at the Cold Test Facility, a mock-up of one of Hanford's huge underground tanks to store nuclear waste, and also the Environmental Restoration Disposal Facility, where a landfill the size of 52 football fields is used to dispose of low-level radioactive waste.
The tour also includes a briefing at the K East and K West Reactors, a busy area of environmental cleanup.
Participants must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years old. They must carry identification that exactly matches the name they registered under and must wear clothes appropriate to an industrial setting to be allowed on the tour. That means long pants, shirts with sleeves and sturdy shoes with closed heels and toes.
Although seats are expected to fill quickly, any canceled reservations will be posted online without notice until shortly before each tour.
The separate B Reactor tours will be offered at 8 a.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. Saturdays. Those tours, which have about 2,100 seats, take about 31/2 hours. Participants must be at least 18 years old, but the B Reactor tours are open to citizens of any country.
B Reactor was the world's first production-scale nuclear reactor. It looks much like it did when it produced plutonium for the nation's first nuclear explosion and for the bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, helping end WWII.
-- Annette Cary: 582-1533; email@example.com