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Hanford Reservation

Hanford Reservation


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The Hanford reservation in eastern Washington State covered more than 600 square miles and had 50 miles of the Columbia River running through it. The world's first plutonium production reactor, designated the B Reactor, was designed by Enrico Fermi and other scientists at the University of Chicago. Construction was the responsibility of the Army Corps of Engineers, while the facilities were assigned to the DuPont chemical company.The first step was to remove the small number of civilians who lived in the area, mostly clustered along the Columbia. Neither they nor the workers who came afterwards were told what the purpose of the project was until after the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.Later in 1943, the B Reactor began producing plutonium. Following the war, B Reactor was mothballed from 1946 to 1948, but it was then restarted and operated continuously until February, 1968.Other reactors were built over the years, as Hanford remained the source of plutonium for America's nuclear weapons program. A complete cleanup of Hanford will take decades and billions of additional dollars.