Establishing a Manhattan Project National Historical Park
 
 
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Establishing a Manhattan Project National Historical Park

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The V Site at Los AlamosThe V Site at Los AlamosOn March 7, 2013, Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced the Manhattan Project National Historical Park Act (S. 507). The following week, on March 15, Representatives Doc Hastings (R-WA), Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), and Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN) introduced a companion bill in the House. The legislation would create a Manhattan Project National Historical Park with units at Hanford, WA; Los Alamos, NM; and Oak Ridge, TN.

On April 24, 2013, the House Committee on Natural Resources approved the Manhattan Project National Historical Park Act by unanimous consent. The bill will now be sent to the floor for a vote, as yet unscheduled. The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held a hearing on the legislation on April 23.

The 112th Congress had considered similar legislation, but failed to make it through a deadlocked Congress. The Congressional members representing the Manhattan Project sites have vowed to see the legislation enacted and a Manhattan Project National Historical Park established. With bipartisan, bicameral support the park, the Atomic Heritage Foundation is guardedly optimistic that the bill will pass and the park established.

Establishing a Manhattan Project National Historical Park would preserve key Manhattan Projects for the education of future generations. Some of the sites that could be included in the park are the B Reactor at Hanford, which produced plutonium for the atomic bombs; buildings in the Los Alamos Historical District such as Bathtub Row; and the X-10 Graphite Reactor at Oak Ridge, the first continuously operated nuclear reactor. 

The B Reactor at HanfordThe B Reactor at HanfordThe benefits of establishing a Manhattan Project National Historical Park are manifold. The park would increase tourism to the three sites. The B Reactor is already a popular tourist attraction; despite very limited bus tours of the site, in 2012 alone 10,000 people from 50 states and 60 countries visited the reactor. The communities of the Tri-Cities, Los Alamos, and Oak Ridge will benefit from the increased tourism and national visibility.

For over a decade, the Atomic Heritage Foundation has fought hard to preserve key Manhattan Project properties across the nation and bring WWII history to life. As part of our efforts, we have worked with with the Advisory Council on on Historic Preservation, the National Park Service, the Department of Energy, and many other groups and stakeholders to ensure that future posterity will have access to buildings that connect us to our national past. We have helped to preserve sites like the V-Site, where "Gadget," the first plutonium-based atomic explosive, was assembled by Manhattan Project scientists. "Gadget" was successfully tested at the Trinity site near Alamogordo, NM, on July 16, 1945.

Although we have focused our preservation efforts on the three key sites of the Manhattan Project -- Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, and Hanford, we have also worked to preserve lesser known Cold War sites across the nation. Click on the accompanying city name to learn more about our preservation efforts: Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, and Hanford.

 
 
 
 

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