A U.S. House committee approved a bill today to set up a Manhattan Project National Historical Park that would include Oak Ridge.
In the works for years, the park would also include facilities in Hanford, Wash., and Los Alamos, N.M.
The legislation, H.R. 5987, can now be considered by the full House.
“Today’s committee approval moves the Historical Park another step forward with our eye on enacting the bill into law before the end of this year,” said Doc Hastings, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee.
A committee press release said the bipartisan bill was introduced by Hastings and representatives Chuck Fleischmann of Tennessee and Ben Lujan of New Mexico.
The Manhattan Project was an unprecedented top-secret program to produce an atomic bomb before Nazi Germany during World War II, and Oak Ridge, Hanford, and Los Alamos all played key roles.
“The goal of this bill is to officially declare the importance of preserving this history of the Manhattan Project, provide access to the public, and involve the unique abilities of the Park Service to help tell this story,” Hastings said. “By establishing this park, we seek to fully open the doors to the American people, as well as the world, to provide enhanced public access to these facilities where history unfolded.”
Under the bill, the Manhattan Project National Historical Park must be established as a unit of the National Park System within one year, the press release said.
The bill specifies the facilities and areas at the three locations that are eligible for inclusion in the park. Most of these facilities and areas are already owned by the federal government and under the purview of the U.S. Department of Energy.
The legislation requires coordination, planning, and cooperation between the Park Service and the Department of Energy to ensure safe and secure access to these locations, the release said.
Last year, a National Park Service study directed by Congress recommended a Park Unit that includes facilities at Hanford, Oak Ridge, and Los Alamos.
Similar legislation, S. 3300, has been introduced in the Senate by Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman. Senators Patty Murray, Maria Cantwell, Tom Udall, and Lamar Alexander are also sponsors of the Senate legislation, the release said.