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Atomic Frontier Days

Hanford and the American West

By John M. Findlay and Bruce Hevly

Publication Year: 2011

Takes readers behind the headlines into the Manhattan Project at Hanford and the communities that surround it and offers perspectives on today’s controversies in an area now famous for the monumental effort to clean up decades of nuclear waste.

Published by: University of Washington Press


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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

We are grateful to many people and organizations for supporting this project. Our research benefited early on from funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (Cooperative Agreement no. DE-FC06-91-RL12260). We are indebted to Tom Bauman and especially Marji Parker of the Richland...

Hanford Timeline

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pp. xi-xv

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pp. 3-13

Eleven days after Hiroshima— on Augus t 17, 1945— Mrs. J. W. Nichols of Grants Pass, Oregon, wrote a letter to Colonel Franklin T. Matthias, the army officer who had overseen the construction and operation of the Manhattan Project’s plutonium factory at Hanford in Washington State during World War II. She told Matthias about...

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One: Plutonium, Production, and Pollution: Hanford’s Career as Federal Enclave

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pp. 14-73

When the army conceived, planned, and built a plutonium plant in south-central Washington between 1942 and 1945, it called the place the Hanford Engineer Works. The name is telling, because it reminds us of both Hanford’s specific role in the federal weapons program and the confidence invested in the place. The term “engineer” connoted...

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Two: The Atomic City of the West: Richland and the Tri-Cities

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pp. 74-136

Th e experience of Richland, Washington, has been quite unusual, as towns go, but its story is not so odd as to have been unimaginable. Perivale St. Andrews, a setting imagined in George Bernard Shaw’s 1909 play Major Barbara, anticipated some of Richland’s exceptional ways. Perivale St. Andrews is the company town of Undershaft and Lazarus...

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Three: The Politics of Hanford: Warfare and Welfare

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pp. 137-200

In 1951, on the floor of the House of Representatives, Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson, a young congressman from western Washington State, urged his colleagues to support a proposal for a six- to tenfold increase in spending on atomic weapons. His reasoning was simple: The nation faced a grave challenge from the Soviet Union, which not only possessed...

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Four: Hanford and the Columbia River Basin: Economy and Ecology

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pp. 201-263

By the early 1990s, the Hanford Site was commonly identified as one of the most polluted places in the United States. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, noting the 440 billion gallons of liquid radioactive and chemical wastes released into the ground and distributed about the place after 1943, ranked Hanford as “the most contaminated site in the nation.” And although production of weapons-grade plutonium...

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pp. 264-272

Th e integration of the American West and atomic energy that Hanford represented drew upon broad themes in U.S. culture as well as on a particular regional history. Even before the outbreak of World War II, the country had begun imagining such mixtures of the old and the new. In 1935, for example, singing cowboy Gene Autry made...

Appendix 1

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p. 273

Appendix 2

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p. 274

Appendix 3

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pp. 275-276

Appendix 4

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p. 276

Note on Sources

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pp. 277-280

Abbreviations Used in Notes

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pp. 281-286


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pp. 287-351

Bibliographic Essay

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pp. 352-360


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pp. 361-368

E-ISBN-13: 9780295802985
E-ISBN-10: 0295802987
Print-ISBN-13: 9780295990972
Print-ISBN-10: 029599097X

Publication Year: 2011

OCLC Number: 768474075
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Atomic Frontier Days

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Subject Headings

  • Nuclear facilities -- Waste disposal -- Washington (State) -- Hanford Site.
  • Radioactive waste disposal -- Washington (State) -- Hanford Site.
  • Nuclear reactors -- Washington (State) -- Hanford Site.
  • Hanford Site (Wash.).
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