Congressional Record: September 30, 2003 (Senate)
Page S12194-S12203                   



      By Mr. BINGAMAN (for himself, Ms. Cantwell,  and Mrs. Murray):

[[Page S12198]]

  S. 1687. A bill to direct the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a 
study on the preservation and interpretation of the historic sites of 
the Manhattan Project for potential inclusion in the National Park 
System; to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
  Mr. BINGAMAN. Mr. President, I rise to introduce the Manhattan 
Project National Historical Park Study Act. This bill authorizes the 
National Park Service, in coordination with the Secretaries of Energy 
and Defense, to undertake a special resource study to assess the 
national significance, suitability, and feasibility of designating 
various Manhattan Project sites and their facilities as a National 
Historical Park. Specifically, the study will evaluate the historic 
significance of the Manhattan Project facilities of Los Alamos and the 
Trinity Site in the State of New Mexico, of the Hanford Site in the 
State of Washington, and of Oak Ridge in the State of Tennessee. I am 
pleased that my distinguished colleagues from the States of Washington, 
Senators Cantwell and Murray, are cosponsoring this bill.
  The significance of the Manhattan Project to this Nation--and indeed 
the World--would be difficult to overstate. The project was initiated 
as a desperate effort in the middle of World War II to beat Nazi 
Germany to the construction of the first nuclear bomb. The effort was 
of a magnitude and intensity not seen before or since: in a mere three 
years, 130,000 men and women went to work on a $2.2 billion mission 
that furiously pushed science, technology, engineering, and society 
into a new age.
  The magnitude of the effort is easily matched by its legacy. This 
legacy includes an ending to the Second World War, as well as the 
foundation for nuclear medicine and great advances in physics, 
mathematics, engineering, and technology. A number of scholars have 
argued that it also includes a dramatic change to a sustained era of 
relative world peace. But this legacy also includes the deaths of 
hundreds of thousands of Japanese, and the sacrifices of the 
homesteaders that were forced off of the sites to make way for the 
project, its thousands of workers and their families, and the uranium 
miners, ``down-winders'', and others. This legacy has been the subject 
of hot debate for decades, and this debate continues today--as it must.
  There are historic facilities at the four Manhattan Project sites 
that are absolutely essential resources for informing this important 
debate, and there should be no question that they are of great national 
and international significance. Pulitzer Prize-winning Manhattan 
Project author Richard Rhodes has said that ``the discovery of how to 
release nuclear energy was arguably the most important human discovery 
since fire--reason enough to preserve its remarkable history.''
  But while the enormous significance of the Manhattan Project makes 
our obligation to preserve and interpret this history abundantly clear, 
it makes it equally challenging. The greatest challenge has been--and 
will continue to be--interpreting this history in a sensitive and 
balanced way. This Nation is blessed with historic assets that praise 
the best of humanity and some that mourn the worst, some that grace us 
with glory and some that humble us with anguish, some that impress us 
with brilliance and some that embarrass us with senselessness, some 
that manifest beginnings and some that mark ends, some that inspire us 
with awe and some that fascinate us with curiosities, and some that 
grip us with the fear of destruction and some that give us the hope of 
creation. But I don't know of any others that challenge us with 
legitimate passions for all of these.
  Preserving and interpreting this history also includes the challenge 
of respecting the ongoing missions and responsibilities of the 
Department of Energy and the Department of Defense at the Manhattan 
Project sites. Access to some of the historic facilities must be 
restricted--to some prohibited--and other precautions also may be 
necessary. The Departments of Energy and Defense have begun to take on 
these challenges, and they deserve much credit for doing so. The 
Bradbury Museum in Los Alamos is a good example, as are the biannual 
tours of the Trinity Site on White Sands Missile Range. They have 
recognized that preserving this history offers great opportunities not 
only for the public, but for their employees. Employees who better 
appreciate this history will be more likely to appreciate their 
careers, and they certainly will appreciate the boost interested 
tourists give to their local economies.
  This bill asks the question whether we will do better to preserve and 
interpret the important history of the Manhattan Project by unifying 
and promoting the various efforts at these sites as a National 
Historical Park. It is appropriate that our Nation's leader in historic 
preservation and interpretation--the National Park Service--lead the 
effort to answer this question. In doing so, they will consult with the 
Secretaries of Energy and Defense, as well as State, tribal, and local 
officials, and representatives of interested organizations and members 
of the public. The Park Service's expertise, experience, and enthusiasm 
is critical to the endeavor.
  In asking this question we are neither celebrating the Manhattan 
Project nor lamenting it. But we are recognizing our responsibility to 
society to ensure it is neither forgotten nor misunderstood.
  I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the 
  There being no objection, the bill was ordered to be printed in the 
Record, as follows:

                                S. 1687

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,


       This Act may be cited as the ``Manhattan Project National 
     Historical Park Study Act of 2003''.

     SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

       Congress finds that--
       (1) the Manhattan Project, the World War II effort to 
     develop and construct the world's first atomic bomb, 
     represents an extraordinary era of American and world history 
       (A) included remarkable achievements in science and 
     engineering made possible by innovative partnerships among 
     Federal agencies, universities, and private industries; and
       (B) culminated in a transformation of the global society by 
     ushering in the atomic age;
       (2) the Manhattan Project was an unprecedented 
     $2,200,000,000, 3-year, top-secret effort that employed 
     approximately 130,000 men and women at its peak;
       (3) the Manhattan Project sites contain historic resources 
     that are crucial for the interpretation of the Manhattan 
     Project, including facilities in--
       (A) Oak Ridge, Tennessee (where the first uranium 
     enrichment facilities and pilot-scale nuclear reactor were 
       (B) Hanford, Washington (where the first large-scale 
     reactor for producing plutonium was built);
       (C) Los Alamos, New Mexico (where the atomic bombs were 
     designed and built); and
       (D) Trinity Site, New Mexico (where the explosion of the 
     first nuclear device took place);
       (4) the Secretary of the Interior has recognized the 
     national significance in American history of Manhattan 
     Project facilities in the study area by--
       (A) designating the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory in the 
     State of New Mexico as a National Historic Landmark in 1965 
     and adding the Laboratory to the National Register of 
     Historic Places in 1966;
       (B) designating the Trinity Site on the White Sands Missile 
     Range in the State of New Mexico as a National Historic 
     Landmark in 1965 and adding the Site to the National Register 
     of Historic Places in 1966;
       (C) designating the X-10 Graphite Reactor at the Oak Ridge 
     National Laboratory in the State of Tennessee as a National 
     Historic Landmark in 1965 and adding the Reactor to the 
     National Register of Historic Places in 1966;
       (D) adding the Oak Ridge Historic District to the National 
     Register of Historic Places in 1991;
       (E) adding the B Reactor at the Hanford Site in the State 
     of Washington to the National Register of Historic Places in 
     1992; and
       (F) by adding the Oak Ridge Turnpike, Bear Creek Road, and 
     Bethel Valley Road Checking Stations in the State of 
     Tennessee to the National Register of Historic Places in 
       (5) the Hanford Site has been nominated by the Richland 
     Operations Office of the Department of Energy and the 
     Washington State Historic Preservation Office for addition to 
     the National Register of Historic Places;
       (6) a panel of experts convened by the Advisory Council on 
     Historic Preservation in 2001 reported that the development 
     and use of the atomic bomb during World War II has been 
     called ``the single most significant event of the 20th 
     century'' and recommended that various sites be formally 
     established ``as a collective unit administered for 
     preservation, commemoration, and public interpretation in 
     cooperation with the National Park Service'';

[[Page S12199]]

       (7) the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation reported 
     in 2001 that the preservation and interpretation of the 
     historic sites of the Manhattan Project offer significant 
     value as destinations for domestic and international 
     tourists; and
       (8) preservation and interpretation of the Manhattan 
     Project historic sites are necessary for present and future 
     generations to fully appreciate the extraordinary undertaking 
     and complex consequences of the Manhattan Project.


       In this Act:
       (1) Secretary.--The term ``Secretary'' means the Secretary 
     of the Interior.
       (2) Study.--The term ``study'' means the study authorized 
     by section 4(a).
       (3) Study area.--The term ``study area'' means the 
     following Manhattan Project sites:
       (A) Los Alamos National Laboratory and townsite in the 
     State of New Mexico.
       (B) The Trinity Site on the White Sands Missile Range in 
     the State of New Mexico.
       (C) The Hanford Site in the State of Washington.
       (D) Oak Ridge Laboratory in the State of Tennessee.
       (E) Other significant sites relating to the Manhattan 
     Project determined by the Secretary to be appropriate for 
     inclusion in the study.


       (a) Study.-- ---
       (1) In general.--The Secretary shall conduct a special 
     resource study of the study area to assess the national 
     significance, suitability, and feasibility of designating the 
     various historic sites and structures of the study area as a 
     unit of the National Park System in accordance with section 
     8(c) of Public Law 91-383 (16 U.S.C. 1a-5(c)).
       (2) Administration.--In conducting the study, the Secretary 
       (A) consult with the Secretary of Energy, the Secretary of 
     Defense, State, tribal, and local officials, representatives 
     of interested organizations, and members of the public; and
       (B) evaluate, in coordination with the Secretary of Energy 
     and the Secretary of Defense, the compatibility of 
     designating the study area, or 1 or more parts of the study 
     area, as a national historical park or national historic site 
     with maintaining security, productivity and management goals 
     of the Department of Energy and the Department of Defense, 
     and public health and safety.
       (b) Report.--Not later than 1 year after the date on which 
     funds are made available to carry out the study, the 
     Secretary shall submit to Congress a report that describes 
     the findings of the study and any conclusions and 
     recommendations of the Secretary.


       There are authorized to be appropriated such sums as are 
     necessary to carry out this Act.
  Ms. CANTWELL. Mr. President, I rise today as a cosponsor, along with 
my colleagues, Senators Bingaman and Murray of the Manhattan Project 
National Historical Park Study Act.
  This bill authorizes a special resource study to determine the 
suitability and feasibility of developing a national park site at one 
or more of the facilities that playing a major role in the Manhattan 
Project--the Federal Government's top-secret effort during World War II 
to develop nuclear weapons before its opponents, an initiative that 
changed the course of world history. I believe it is tremendously 
important for the citizens of our Nation to learn about the important 
functions the various Manhattan Project sites served in defending our 
Nation, from World War II through the cold war, and to recognize and 
understand the complicated and weighty issues arising from the 
production and use of nuclear weapons, their impact on world history as 
well as their human and environmental costs.
  In January of 1943, Hanford, WA was selected by the War Department to 
serve as a part of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Manhattan 
Project plan. The site was selected for several reasons: It was 
remotely located from population centers, which fostered security and 
safety; the Columbia River provided plenty of water to cool the 
reactors; and cheap and abundant electricity was available from nearby 
Federal dams.
  The history of this era is a complicated one--as farmers and tribes 
were displaced, given 30 days to move from their homes in central 
Washington. By March 1943, construction had started on the site, which 
covers about 625 square miles. At the time, the priority facility on 
the Hanford Reservation was the B reactor. Built in just 11 months as 
American scientists and their allies engaged in what was then perceived 
as a race with the Germans to develop nuclear capability, B reactor was 
the world's first large-scale plutonium production reactor.
  The need for labor for the project turned Hanford into an atomic 
boomtown, with the population reaching 50,000 by the summer of 1944. 
Workers at the sprawling Hanford complex were not even sure of what 
they were producing, and tales of German rockets used during battles 
led many workers to believe they were producing rocket fuel. In fact, 
this secrecy continued even after the atomic bombs were dropped. One 
worker recalled that many children who lived in the area didn't even 
know what their parent who worked at Hanford did on the job.
  Clearly, the B reactor at Hanford made significant contributions to 
U.S. defense policies during its production run, from 1944 through 
1968. Plutonium from the B reactor was used in the world's first 
nuclear explosion, called the Trinity Test, in New Mexico on July 16, 
1945. B reactor plutonium was also used in the ``Fat Man'' bomb dropped 
on Nagasaki, Japan on August 9, 1945. The blast devastated more than 
two square miles of the city, effectively ending World War II. The B 
reactor also produced plutonium for the cold war efforts until 1968.
  The B reactor is simply a stunning feat of engineering. Built in less 
than a year, the reactor consisted of a 1,200-ton graphite cylinder 
lying on its side, which was penetrated through its entire length 
horizontally by over 2,000 aluminum tubes. Two hundred tons of uranium 
slugs the size of rolls of quarters went into the tubes. Cooling water 
from the Columbia River, which first had to be treated, was pumped 
through the aluminum tubes at 75,000 gallons per minute. Water 
consumption approached that of a city with a population of 300,000. The 
B reactor was one of three reactors that had its own auxiliary 
facilities that included a river pump house, large storage and settling 
basins, a filtration plant, huge motor-driven pumps for delivering the 
water, and facilities for emergency cooling in case of a power failure. 
It was the first of an eventual nine nuclear reactors that remain on 
the banks of the Columbia River--a potent reminder of both the war 
effort and the environmental burden with which we must contend.
  The people of Washington State, and especially the residents of the 
tri-cities, are proud of their contributions to the World War II and 
cold war efforts. We are left with these irreplaceable relics of the 
Manhattan Project--such as the B reactor--which are incredibly 
important in understanding the engineering achievements that propelled 
this country into the nuclear age, with all of the complicated moral 
issues it poses for the possessors of such technology. As the 
Department of Energy continues its work to clean up the Hanford site, 
the country's most contaminated nuclear reservation, it is important 
that we also honor the achievements of the important work done here, as 
well as commemorate the tremendous sacrifices made by workers, 
displaced families and tribes, and this era's environmental legacy.
  There is already strong support in the communities that surround 
Hanford for preserving the history of the Manhattan Project, and I 
would like to commend the B reactor Museum Association and Bechtel 
Hanford, Inc. for all this work to date. In recent years, they have 
worked hard to decontaminate, clean, inventory, and spruce up B 
reactor's interior so that people can walk in to see three chambers. 
But more work needs to be done if we want to preserve the reactor for 
future generations, which must learn about the Manhattan Project and 
its impact on world history.
  One such way to do that is to look into the possibility of adding the 
B reactor as well as Manhattan Project sites in other parts of the 
country as a new National Park unit.
  I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure passage of 
this bill, as the study it authorizes is a much-needed first step in 
determining the best options for preserving this important piece of 
American history.