US reactor could become Historic Landmark

06 December 2007

[Seattle Times, 5 December] A US National Park Service advisory committee has recommended unanimously that the world's first full-scale nuclear reactor be designated a National Historic Landmark. The Hanford B reactor produced the plutonium for the first nuclear weapons as part of the Manhattan Project during World War II. The Department of Energy (DOE), which has responsibility for the reactor, plans to encase the reactor and steel for 75 years before disposal, as it has already done with five other reactors at the Washington site. Historians feel it should be preserved. Placement of the reactor on the registry of National Historic Landmarks would not guarantee its preservation but could help to protect it. A second National Park Service committee must now review the recommendation, and the final decision on designation as a National Historic Landmark rests with the secretary of the US Department of the Interior. The National Park Service is also carrying out a study on whether to include the reactor and other Manhattan Project sites in a new national park.

Further information

Department of Energy Hanford Site

WNA's Outline History of Nuclear Energy information paper

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