Atomic Frontier Days
Hanford and the American West
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: University of Washington Press
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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...
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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...
One: Plutonium, Production, and Pollution: Hanford’s Career as Federal Enclave
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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...
Two: The Atomic City of the West: Richland and the Tri-Cities
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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...
Three: The Politics of Hanford: Warfare and Welfare
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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...
Four: Hanford and the Columbia River Basin: Economy and Ecology
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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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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...
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Note on Sources
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Abbreviations Used in Notes
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Publication Year: 2011
Series Title: Emil and Kathleen Sick Series in Western History and Biography