Category Archives: Manhattan Project Park

Update on Manhattan Project Historical Park

Oak Ridge Historian Ray Smith will speak Tuesday, Jan. 12, at the Friends of Oak Ridge National Laboratory luncheon, providing information on the Manhattan Project National Historical Park that’s based at Oak Ridge and two other sites. The event will be held at the UT Resource Center, 1201 Oak Ridge Turnpike, beginning with social time at 11 a.m., lunch at 11:30 (available from Soup Kitchen at $8 per) and the talk at noon.

Alexander: DOE Office of Science due for record funding

alexandersummitU.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who chairs the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on energy and water development, said the Energy & Water Appropriations Bill (to be included in the proposed Omnibus bill) has a record level of funding for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science — which is the main funder of research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The Office of Science is reportedly in line for $5.3 billion in FY 2016.

In a release from his office, Tennessee’s senior senator cited the importance of the funding for the lab’s supercomputer initiatives — including a path to once again hosting the world’s fastest computer by 2018 — as well as environmental cleanup in Oak Ridge. Continue reading

Y-12 shows its age (good and bad)

y12signThursday’s celebration of the newly created Manhattan Project National Historical Park got off to a little bit of a rocky start at Y-12 when a morning power outage on the Oak Ridge plant’s west end threatened to interrupt public tours of historic sites.

The tours got started a little late, and the first tour group wasn’t able to visit Beta-3 — a key cog in the wartime production of U-235 for the “Little Boy” atomic bomb — because electricity to the big building hadn’t yet returned.

According to Steven Wyatt, a federal spokesman, the insulation in an old transformer failed, causing the outage. Continue reading

Oak Ridge facility tours: A wedding of history and security

IMG_4992Oak Ridge businesswoman Bonnie Carroll undergoes security check Thursday morning before boarding bus for tour of historic facilities at the Y-12 National Security Complex and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The tours were staged in conjunction with this week’s official establishment of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park.

IMG_4993As he rounded a corner on the west side of Y-12’s mammoth Beta-3 building, tour guide Ray Smith stopped and — with a little drama in his voice — told his eager followers: “OK, you’ve really walked back into 1945 here.”

Smith, historian at the Oak Ridge plant that produced the enriched uranium for the “Little Boy” bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, near the end of World War II, helped organize and carry out Thursday’s “special access” tours. The event was tied to this week’s official establishment of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, and about 300 applied for the tours before online registration was shut down. Continue reading

DOE unveils K-25 Virtual Museum

happyvalleyAerial view of Happy Valley, where thousands of construction workers lived during the World War II work on the K-25 uranium-enrichment plant. (Department of Energy archives)

As part of today’s official establishment of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, the Department of Energy unveiled its K-25 Virtual Museum. The online site features photographs and in-depth information on the origins of the plant and its missions, as well as oral histories from some of the people who worked at the plant during and after the World War II Manhattan Project. Continue reading

‘Crit incredible’ by Christmas

16593256243_cbd867aa8a_kWorkers are reportedly making good progress in pre-demolition activities at K-27, the last of the big uranium-enrichment facilities to be demolished at the East Tennessee Technology Park.

According to Anne Smith, spokeswoman for cleanup contractor URS-CH2M Oak Ridge, the team expects to reach “crit incredible” milestone by mid-December. That status means there’s no longer a threat of nuclear criticality, an event involving an uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction and release of dangerous levels of radiation.

Workers have been removing deposit of fissionable uranium and stabilizing old process equipment to reduce the nuclear safety concerns. Continue reading

DOE halts registration for ‘special access’ tours at Y-12, ORNL; revised plan will accommodate overflow demand

graphitereactor-thumb-620x362-20448.jpgThe Graphite Reactor will be part of “special access” tours of Oak Ridge facilities next week as part of the celebration of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park.

The Department of Energy and National Nuclear Security Administration have closed registration for the Nov. 12 “special access” tours of Y-12 and Oak Ridge National Laboratory after demand far exceeded the original plan to limit the historical tours to 140 people. Continue reading

Manhattan celebration: Special tours at Y-12, ORNL

y9731twoAs part of the official establishment of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, public tours of facilities at the Y-12 National Security Complex and Oak Ridge National Laboratory will take place on Thursday, Nov. 12.

Two days earlier, on Nov. 10, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz are scheduled to sign a memorandum of agreement for managing and interpreting the Manhattan Project at three sites: Los Alamos, N.M., Hanford, Wash., and Oak Ridge. A number of Oak Ridge events are planned. Continue reading

Ed Westcott makes appearance


Ninety-three-year-old Ed Westcott, the government’s official photographer for the Manhattan Project at Oak Ridge, was on hand for the Oct. 22 lecture by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Rhodes, who wrote, “The Making of the Atomic Bomb.” I had a chance to shake Westcott’s hand and chat briefly at the American Museum of Science & Energy, and he seemed to be in fine spirits.