Congress Introduces Manhattan Project Park Act
Bipartisan, Bicameral Support
Preserving the History of the Manhattan Project
The Benefits of Establishing a Park
Contact Your Representatives!
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Exciting news! On Friday, March 15, 2013, Representatives Doc Hastings (R-WA), Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), and Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN) introduced legislation (H.R. 1208to create a Manhattan Project National Historical Park. This follows the Senate bill (S. 507) which was introduced on March 7 by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN). There is tremendous momentum in both House and Senate so stay tuned for further developments in the near future. 

Bipartisan, Bicameral Support


The bills introduced are essentially the same as the legislation introduced in the 112th Congress to establish a Manhattan Project National Historical Park. Although the legislation in the last Congress stalled in a deadlocked Congress, there are some promising signs that the 113th Congress will establish the new park.



Senators Maria Cantwell & Lamar Alexander, sponsors of the bill


The Senate bill has strong support in the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. On February 19, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), the Chairman of the Committee, visited the B Reactor and pledged to support a Manhattan Project Park. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), and Tom Udall (D-NM) are cosponsors of the bill. Henrich, Cantwell, and Alexander are members of the committee.


"As Americans, we have a special obligation to preserve and protect our heritage, and the Manhattan Project National Historical Park will ensure that all Americans learn about the significance of the Manhattan Project and how it continues to shape our history," said Senator Alexander. 


In a press release, Senator Cantwell declared, "Giving historic sites at Hanford the same status as Independence Hall will help honor the groundbreaking engineering achievements and tremendous sacrifices of those who labored there."

Rep. Doc Hastings
Rep. Hastings, the Chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, has been one of the strongest supporters of the park and has vowed to see the legislation pass through Congress. In a press release, he declared, "The Manhattan Project is a significant chapter in America's history. The establishment of this park will ensure that this history is preserved and that facilities, such as Hanford's B Reactor, will remain open and accessible for future generations to visit." 
Reps. Ben Ray Lujan and Chuck Fleischmann, cosponsors 
Rep. Lujan has been especially dedicated to ensuring that the park will tell the stories of all the participants involved, including the Hispanics and Pueblos who worked at Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project. He stated, "This legislation ensures that the legacy of the Manhattan Project and the people who were instrumental to its goal will not be forgotten.  A national historical park in these communities will help tell this story and allow us to reflect on how this project changed the world and how we can move forward ensuring peace and prosperity."

In the next step, the House Committee on Natural Resources and the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, which oversee national park-related legislation, will consider the bills in mark-up sessions. This week the Senate Committee passed 19 public lands bills in their first markup session. From the committees, the legislation goes to the floor for a vote. The legislation may move forward quickly, so stay tuned!


Preserving the History of 

the Manhattan Project 

The B Reactor at Hanford
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.


With the prospect of a national historical park, the Department of Energy has reconsidered whether some of the Manhattan Project properties should be saved. Most were planned to be demolished under an aggressive environmental cleanup program begun in the 1990s. 


For example, the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) had slated dozens of Manhattan Project properties, many of which had been abandoned since the 1950s, to be demolished. Among them was the V-Site, humble asbestos-shingled buildings where the world's first atomic device was assembled. Instead, thanks to a 1999 Save America's Treasures grant that was matched by the Atomic Heritage Foundation, the V-Site became the first Manhattan Project property to be restored. 
The restored V-Site at Los Alamos

Incorporating historic treasures such as the B Reactor, the Alexander Guest House, and Bathtub Row houses into the National Park System would ensure that these sites are saved for many generations to come. 


The Benefits of Establishing a Park


The 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. 


Both bills provide that the park will be established no later than one year after enactment. The two federal agencies, Interior and Energy, have one year to work out issues of enhanced public access, management, interpretation, and historic preservation in a memorandum of agreement.   

The Gun Site at Los Alamos
The legislation allows the Secretary of Energy to accept gifts, services, and volunteer labor for preserving and providing access to historically significant Manhattan Project properties. In recent years, donations for restoring the "Gun Site" at Los Alamos and volunteer services to repair the pre-Manhattan Project properties at Hanford could not be accepted because the Department of Energy lacked authority to accept such "gifts." The new provision will be most a welcome and constructive change.

The National Park Service will develop a general management plan within three years, in consultation with other governments, organizations, and the public. As America's storyteller, the National Park Service will tell the story of the Manhattan Project and its legacy in a balanced manner, giving voice to the multiple communities involved with and affected by the development of the bomb.  


"As America's greatest interpreter of our history and culture, the National Park Service has a long history of interpreting significant as well as controversial historic sites, from the Manzanar War Relocation Center to the Little Bighorn Battlefield," said Ron Tipton, Senior Vice President of Policy for the National Parks Conservation Association. "It is time for successful passage of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park Act."


Contact Your Representatives!


Please contact your Congressmen to urge their support of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park Act! To find contact information for your representative, please click here 


We will keep you updated with any new developments on the Manhattan Project National Historical Park. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for breaking news.




Atomic Heritage Foundation