During a brief press conference this morning, Congressmen Chuck Fleischmann and Doc Hastings said they are advocating for more money for cleanup work at U.S. Department of Energy sites and a Manhattan Project National Historical Park that could include Oak Ridge and Hanford.
The Manhattan Project was a top-secret federal program to build the world’s first atomic weapons during World War II.
“There’s so much history that was involved in what we did,” said Hastings, a Washington Republican and chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources.
Fleischmann said the cleanup work is important, including to Oak Ridge, and he will continue to advocate for “a larger pie” of funding for the work, officially known as environmental management, or EM.
Fleischmann, a Tennessee Republican whose district includes Oak Ridge, suggested he might not favor preserving the North Tower at the massive K-25 plant, which once enriched uranium but is now being demolished. Some historic preservationists would like to save that section of the mile-long U-shaped K-25 plant, which was once the world’s largest building under one roof.
“The North Tower is right now, in my view, too much of a financial impediment,” Fleischmann said. “I want the most bang for the EM buck.”
After the press conference at the Oak Ridge Office, the two congressmen went on a tour of the three local DOE sites in Oak Ridge: East Tennessee Technology Park, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Y-12 National Security Complex.
A press release from Fleischmann’s office said Hastings is a strong advocate for the Manhattan Project National Historic Park and recently drafted legislation to make the park a reality. If enacted into law, the park would include many Oak Ridge sites such as the Graphite Reactor at ORNL, the K-25 building site, and the Y-12 calutrons, the release said.
Hastings’ district is home to the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, a commercial nuclear power plant and the Hanford site. Hanford is a former nuclear weapons production complex and is now a major nuclear cleanup site.