May 2012
Joseph Rotblat Event
Saving K-25
Tri-City Herald Editorial on Park
New Museum Exhibits
AHF on Twitter
Quick Links

In recognition of Memorial Day, the Atomic Heritage Foundation gratefully remembers the men and women who have served and salutes those who are now serving our country. As President Harry S Truman declared, "Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices."  
guest house
The World War II Memorial in Washington, DC

Reminder: Joseph Rotblat Event on June 5th  


guest houseWe are looking forward to "Joseph Rotblat and the Pugwash Conferences," which we are sponsoring in partnership with the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University and the Federation of American Scientists. The event will take place on Tuesday, June 5, 2012 from 10 AM until 12 PM in room 213 at 1957 E Street NW, Washington, DC. 


The program will focus on the life and legacy of nuclear physicist Joseph Rotblat (1908-2005); his dedication to world peace and reducing the threat of nuclear weapons as the founder and driving force behind the international Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs for six decades. The program will consider the Pugwash Conferences' contributions to ending the Cold War and reducing the nuclear threat in the post-Cold War world.


The program will feature: Dr. Andrew Brown, radiation oncologist and author of the recent biography, Keeper of the Nuclear Conscience: The Life and Work of Joseph Rotblat; Dr. John Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; Dr. Matthew Evangelista, professor of history and political science at Cornell University and author of Unarmed Forces: The Transnational Movement to End the Cold War; and Dr. Steven Miller, Director of the International Security Program at Harvard University and a co-chair of the U.S. Pugwash Committee.


To RSVP for the event, please click here. We hope to see you on June 5th for a very stimulating program followed by refreshments.


Saving K-25

K-25's original interior, where the gaseous diffusion process was used to enrich uranium for atomic bombs and nuclear energy.

In March, the National Park Service (NPS) released a report advocating preserving a portion of the K-25 Plant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, which is currently being demolished by the Department of Energy (DOE). In January, the Advisory Council of Historic Preservation (ACHP) had requested that NPS report its views of the plans to mitigate the K-25 Plant under Section 213 of the National Historical Preservation Act.  


The NPS report stressed, "Because the K-25 building has no substitute, the NPS considers it vital that the maximum practical amount of the original building and equipment be preserved to enable the best possible interpretation of this facility and its operation." The Atomic Heritage Foundation fully agrees with this statement.  


DOE convened a meeting to discuss the NPS recommendations in Oak Ridge on May 17. At the meeting, the Tennessee Historical Commission (THC) asked the consulting parties to submit responses to a questionnaire, providing their views on whether the process adequately considered the K-25 mitigation proposals and how to strengthen the final Memorandum of Agreement. 


The NPS report presented three different concepts. The first, Concept A, would retain two cells of the original plant. Concept B would demolish the entire building and build an equipment building to at least partially replicate the plant. Concept C would retain the two cells and also the entire facade of the North End to give a sense of the monumental scale of the facility.


DOE's preferred option is Concept B, contending that the other two options are too expensive. Many in the Oak Ridge community agree with this choice in light of the cost estimates developed by UCOR, DOE's contractor for the demolition of K-25.


Loring Wyllie
Specifically, UCOR estimates Concept A's two-cell preservation option to cost $28 million, Concept B to build a re-creation to cost $16 million, and Concept C that has both the two cells and retains the wall of the North Tower to cost $62 million. 
To get another expert opinion, the Atomic Heritage Foundation shared UCOR's cost estimates with Loring Wyllie, a highly respected structural engineer and a senior principal with Degenkolb Engineers. Moreover, Wyllie directed the Degenkolb Engineers study commissioned by DOE-Oak Ridge on alternatives for preserving the K-25 Plant (2010). 
After reviewing UCOR's cost estimates, Wyllie's impression was that UCOR "did everything they could to jack up the costs." A summary of his critique is contained in AHF's response to the THC's questionnaire. Based on Degenkolb's analysis of the potential costs, Wyllie estimates that the costs of preserving two cells of the plant or Concept A should not be more than $16 million, which are UCOR's estimated costs of the re-creation or Concept B.  


As the NPS report underscores, the concept of "authenticity" is paramount to the preservation and interpretive planning for K-25. It is essential to convey the K-25 Plant's technological significance and contribution to the Manhattan Project. Preserving the physical building, equipment, and objects as they were will help connect us with the tens of thousands of workers who were there during the Manhattan Project and Cold War years.


No re-creation, no matter how exacting, will give the public or future generations a genuine sense of the facility with its labyrinth of pipes and machines or connect us with our common social past. DOE is understandably anxious to resolve this issue soon. It is time to revive some of the innovative, can-do spirit of the Manhattan Project and find a cost-effective, practical way to preserve a piece of this invaluable Manhattan Project and Cold War plant.


To learn more about the debate over preserving K-25, check out Knoxville NBC affiliate WBIR's two-part program on the issue, which includes interviews with Bill Wilcox and AHF's Cindy Kelly.



 Tri-City Herald Editorial Advocates Manhattan Project National Historical Park 


The B Reactor at Hanford

In May 25, 2012, the Tri-City Herald published an eloquent editorial advocating the establishment of a Manhattan Project National Historical Park. The House and Senate Committees on Natural Resources have recently distributed draft discussions of legislation to create such a Park and are currently preparing to formally introduce the bills (for more, please click here). 


The editorial cites Albert Einstein, explaining that nuclear bombs "indeed changed everything": "'The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.'" The harnessing of the atom has "dictated the course of human events," from the course of the Cold War to today's debate over nuclear weapon development in countries like Iran and North Korea.


The editorial highlights the importance of memory in crafting current events, rightfully proclaiming, "Preservation of the artifacts and places that form the foundation for today's world [are] crucial to our understanding of events." With Representative Doc Hastings of Hanford and Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico chairing the House and Senate Energy Committees, which oversee National Park legislation, the stars are aligned for the 112th Congress to designate a Manhattan Project National Historical Park. But as a May 13th Tri-City Herald article explains, the window is small to establish a national historical park. With Senator Bingaman retiring after this term, the opportunity is fleeting. As the editorial urges, "Bingaman and Hastings need to do all they can to make the Manhattan Project National Historical Park a reality. Constituents would benefit, of course, but the bigger audience is the world."


Exciting New Museum Exhibits



There are several intriguing Manhattan Project-related museum exhibits opening in June.


On June 1st, the new "General Leslie R. Groves and the Manhattan Project" exhibition opens in Oak Ridge, at Tennessee's American Museum of Science and Energy. Designed and created by the Atomic Heritage Foundation, this exhibit tells the story of General Groves' indispensable leadership of the Manhattan Project. Part of the experience features a ten-minute documentary on Groves produced by AHF, tracing the path by which the son of a Presbyterian Army chaplain rose to direct one of the largest scientific-industrial efforts of all time. Come and find out more about Groves, a driven leader who rapidly assembled an incredible team from the military, academia, and industry and produced an atomic bomb in little over two years. Read his letters and realize his obsession with secrecy.


The exhibit has already been hosted by the State Department and the Army Corps of Engineers. We are very pleased Oak Ridgers will have the opportunity to visit the exhibit. If you are not able to spend time at the museum but would still like to learn more about General Groves, you can purchase our documentary here.


On June 2nd, the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History, located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, will open its new exhibit, "Green Glass Morning: Dawn of the Atomic Age." The exhibit includes eighty photographs of the Trinity site, revealing the secrets of the essential Manhattan Project work conducted there. 


The Trinity site, Ground Zero of the Nuclear Age, was once covered in Trinitite, sand melted into green glass by the heat of the atomic bomb. Now there are only small pieces left. In the exhibit you can see pictures of the early days constructing the base camp, the platform tower, the huge unused thermos-shaped container (Jumbo) intended to contain the plutonium core in case of a nuclear misfire, the bunkers that provided shielding for observers, and more.


The Trinity site itself is only open to the public twice a year, once on the first Saturday in April and again on the first Saturday in October. The Trinitite exhibit will be open throughout September, however, so be sure to visit!


 Follow AHF on Twitter!



The Atomic Heritage Foundation now has a Twitter account! Follow us @AtomicHeritage if you would like to get daily updates on Manhattan Project history, our preservation efforts, and the drive to establish a Manhattan Project National Historical Park! 


Thanks very much for your interest in the Manhattan Project and preserving its history for future generations. To realize the full potential of a Manhattan Project National Historical Park, we need as strong a partnership as there was for the original Manhattan Project. Your contributions help us continue to work on preserving the Manhattan Project's historic sites and creating a national historical park. 


Thank you very much for your support!



Atomic Heritage Foundation