April 2015

Spots are filling up quickly for our events in June commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Manhattan Project! More than 100 people have registered, including over a dozen Manhattan Project veterans representing Hanford, Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, Tinian, New York, and other sites.


We have a terrific lineup for the symposium on Wednesday, June 3. It will be a wonderful event to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Manhattan Project. We look forward to seeing you there! For more information and to register, please click here.

In This Issue
AHF Meets with Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

AHF President Cindy Kelly with Mayor Taue (on her right) and Mayor Matsui (on her left)

On Friday, May 1, 2015 the Atomic Heritage Foundation met with the Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Japanese local government officials to discuss the interpretation of the new Manhattan Project National Historical Park. The meeting, which was held at the Institute of International Education at 809 United Nations Plaza in New York City, marked a positive first step in opening a dialogue with the Japanese, whose input will be important to the interpretation of the new park.  


Cindy Kelly with Mayor Taue

The meeting began with opening remarks from Nagasaki Mayor Tomahisa Taue and Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui, who described the suffering of those affected by the atomic bombing. They expressed hope that interpretation of the new Manhattan Project Park would not end with the dropping of the bomb but also "focus on what happened under the mushroom cloud."


Representatives from the Japan Confederation of A- and H- bomb Sufferers, the Nagasaki Global Citizens' Assembly for the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, and the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation also attended the meeting and raised questions about what would be included in the new park.


The Atomic Heritage Foundation heard from several hibakusha, a Japanese term used for surviving victims of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. "I was five years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima," said Sueichi Kido, assistant secretary of the Japan Confederation of A- and H- bomb Sufferers. "In that moment I thought, 'This is how the world will end.'" He continued, "We hope that hibakusha are never created again."


AHF President Cynthia Kelly reassured the mayors and the Japanese delegation that the National Park Service will not "cover-up" the facts or glorify the bomb, as some critics of the park have feared. "The creation of the atomic bomb changed the history of the United States and the world in many ways for good and bad," Kelly said. "We must consider this history from both an American and international perspective."


She also expressed confidence in the National Park Service' s interpretation of other contentious moments in American history, such as Civil War battles at Gettysburg and Antietam and the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. "I am confident the National Park Service will tell the complete and multifaceted history of the Manhattan Project and provide an open-ended interpretation, just like they have done at other sites across the country," Kelly said.


AHF President Cindy Kelly with Mayor Taue amidst the media


Mayor Taue and Mr. Kido said they felt "reassured" by the positive discussion and encouraged further dialogue between Japan and the United States. Mayor Taue also invited the Atomic Heritage Foundation to visit Japan to tour the memorials in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.


For more information, see the article in the Japan Times, WWII Park in U.S. to Remain Neutral, and a Tokyo Broadcasting System segment (in Japanese) here.


We are very grateful to Peggy Blumenthal and Jessica Gleason of the Institute for International Education for hosting the conference. Thanks also to David Janes of the United States-Japan Foundation and Alex Wellerstein of the Stevens Institute of Technology for their advice and participation.

MPHPA Website Update


The Manhattan Project Heritage and Preservation Association (MPHPA) was an organization focused on Manhattan Project veterans and their children. Michael Vickio, President and founder of the MPHPA, died suddenly in late September 2005 in Montour Falls, New York. His death was a great loss as he was passionate about preserving the Manhattan Project history. Under his leadership, MPHPA created a website and forum for veterans and their families.


In March 2006, the MPHPA's Board entered into an agreement with the Atomic Heritage Foundation to purchase the assets and continue the mission of the MPHPA.

Since 2006, the Atomic Heritage Foundation has been moving the wealth of information from the MPHPA's website onto the AHF website. As of April 2015, AHF has succeeded in uploading the majority of profiles, photographs, and other documents to the AHF website. As a result, the MPHPA website, which was extremely old and in danger of being hacked, has been taken down permanently.


We hope you will enjoy the MPHPA's collections in their new home on the Atomic Heritage Foundation website. We are still in the process of adding some profiles and photos taken from the MPHPA website, but we should have everything up soon. So far we have transferred thousands of profiles of Manhattan Project workers in the Special Engineer Detachment, Provisional Engineer Detachment, Military Police, scientists, and more.


Many thanks to Manhattan Project veteran James A. Schoke for his generous donation to support the transfer of the MPHPA archive to the AHF website.


Manhattan Project Park Update


Officials from the National Park Service and Department of Energy toured Hanford in mid-April to make plans for the new park. The Manhattan Project National Historical Park will be established officially when the Departments of Interior and Energy reach an agreement over their respective roles and responsibilities. The deadline for the agreement is December 2015.


In a Tri-City Herald article, Annette Cary noted, "Retired Rep. Doc Hastings said he had just one request of the National Park Service during a community open house Wednesday in Richland for the new Manhattan Project National Historical Park. If historic B Reactor could be built in 18 months, then DOE and the National Park Service should be able to have the new national park operating in 17 months and two weeks, Hastings said."


Work on restoration projects and interpretative exhibits for the Manhattan Project Park will depend upon Congressional funding and could take several years. In the meantime, Victor Knox said NPS will do all it can to support and improve the tours of B Reactor already offered by DOE. Over the past decade, AHF has collaborated with the B Reactor Museum Association to produce exhibits and films on display at the B Reactor as well as Ranger in Your Pocket online tours of Hanford. The NPS has praised this approach as they work to set up the park.


Manhattan Project
NPS/DOE video

The National Park Service and the Department of Energy have released a short introductory video on the Manhattan Project National Historical Park. The video features David Klaus, DOE Deputy Under Secretary for Management and Performance, and Jonathan Jarvis, Director of the National Park Service.


Klaus and Jarvis highlight the sites that will be included in the park. They explain how excited both NPS and DOE are to move forward together to open the park, and the significance of the Manhattan Project and the park for today. The video also features an assortment of historic photos from the Manhattan Project.


Manhattan Project Congressional Delegation 

Receives National Park Heritage Award


NPCA President Clark Bunting, Senator Martin Heinrich, 
NPCA Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Craig Obey, and AHF President Cindy Kelly


The National Parks Conservation Association, which advocates for national parks and the National Park Service, presented 81 members of Congress with the National Park Heritage Award. This award honors their support of the public lands package included in the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act. 


The delegation that shepherded the Manhattan Project National Historical Park to passage received the award:  Senators Patty Murray, Maria Cantwell, Lamar Alexander, Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, Representatives Ben Ray Lujan and Chuck Fleischmann, and former Rep. Doc Hastings. Thanks to their tireless support, the Manhattan Project National Historical Park will soon become a reality.


Manhattan Project Spotlight: Rhydymwyn Valley Works


Entrances to the tunnels underneath Rhydymwyn 


On August 27, 1939, just days before the outbreak of the Second World War, Britain's Treasury approved 546,000 for the development of a top-secret chemical weapons plant and storage facility in North Wales to produce mustard gas. Among the storage facilities and maze of underground tunnels, Rhydymwyn was also hiding something else: research and development associated with "Tube Alloys," the codename for the British effort to develop an atomic bomb.


Between 1942 and 1946, British scientists at Rhydymwyn carried out research on gaseous diffusion, one of the proposed methods to separate the fissile Uranium-235 from the heavier, more abundant Uranium-238. In 1942, Rhydymwyn's building P6 was selected to develop and test the gaseous diffusion process. Several enormous gaseous diffusion cells were delivered and installed in stages to test the process. The research and development effort at Rhydymwyn was led by Rudolf Peierls and included dozens of physicists and industrial chemists as well as several female laboratory assistants.


Eileen Doxford
Eileen Doxford was one of ten women recruited from a national base to help test equipment prototypes. "I worked with this glass apparatus and there was a little instrument attached to this which was called a pirani, which earned me the name of Pirani Queen," recalled Eileen in a 2009 interview.


For security purposes, the P6 building was sealed off and all employees were segregated from other workers at the site. Many had no idea that they were working on a process to enrich uranium for an atomic bomb. "We didn't know what the work was all about, we just did as we were told and we never asked questions because we weren't encouraged to find out what was going on," said Myfanwy Prichard-Roberts, who was assigned to Rhydymwyn in 1942 after enrolling in the Women's Technical Service Register. "And we never did, not until after the war."


As the Manhattan Project expanded in size and scope, work at Rhydymwyn slowed and in 1945 P6 was converted into a general storage facility. Soon after, Valley Works halted mustard gas production and many buildings were demolished or converted into storage facilities. In 2003, the site underwent major remediation and a Visitor Centre was built on the site of the old gatehouse.


Factory buildings at Rhydymwyn

Today, the Rhydymwyn Valley Works site is a flourishing nature preserve, home to a wide variety of plants and wildlife. Visitors to the site can still take a tour through an eerie maze of underground tunnels and marvel at the huge bombproof caverns that once stored mustard gas.


For more information about Valley Works and to hear first-hand accounts of those who worked there during World War II, please visit the Rhydymwyn Valley History Society's website.


In Memoriam: Seymour Bernstein

Seymour Bernstein in Oak Ridge in 1945
Manhattan Project veteran Seymour Bernstein passed away in Florida on April 21, 2015 at the age of 91. Bernstein was a chemical engineer and member of the Special Engineer Detachment at Oak Ridge. He worked as a laboratory supervisor at the K-25 Plant, and continued working at K-25 after the war as a civilian, after being discharged from the SED. In 1950 he was transferred to the gaseous diffusion plant in Paducah, KY, where he worked for almost 40 years until his retirement. 

Sy met his wife, Clemmie, on V-J Day in 1945 at a dance on the tennis courts in Oak Ridge. Clemmie worked as a secretary on the Manhattan Project for Stone and Webster and Union Carbide and Carbon. 

We know Sy would have been pleased to see the K-25 plant site as part of the new Manhattan Project park.