A U.S. Senate committee assistant said officials expect a bill to be reintroduced early this year to create a Manhattan Project national park that could include sites in Oak Ridge, Los Alamos, N.M., and Hanford, Wash.
An earlier bill to create the park died in the last session of Congress, and one of its key sponsors, Sen. Jeff Bingaman, a New Mexico Democrat, has retired.
Bingaman was chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, has replaced him as chair.
“As you know, Sen. Bingaman sponsored the bill to create a Manhattan Project National Historical Park with components in New Mexico, Washington, and Tennessee, because one of the areas to be included (Los Alamos, N.M.) was in his home state,” said Sam Offerdahl, press assistant for the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “We expect the bill to be reintroduced early this year, likely with a member from one of the states that is home to the proposed parks as lead sponsor (following Senate custom).”
Offerdahl said she hadn’t heard Wyden speak publicly about the issue.
“But he has been supportive of park proposals in the past and has said he is eager to see the committee move through the gridlock that held up many of the public lands bills from the last Congress,” Offerdahl said.
Cindy Kelly, founder and president of the Atomic Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., said she also expects the bill to be reintroduced.
“We are very optimistic that the bill will move through the process,” Kelly said last week.
The Manhattan Project was a top-secret federal program to build the world’s first atomic weapons during World War II.
Sites in Oak Ridge that could have been included under the bill introduced during the last session of Congress included facilities, land, or property interests at Buildings 9204-3 and 9731 at the Y-12 National Security Complex, the K-25 Building site at the East Tennessee Technology Park, and the former Guest House, now called the Alexander Inn, in central Oak Ridge.
Sites in Los Alamos that could have been included would be in the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory National Historic Landmark District, the former East Cafeteria, and the former dormitory on 17th Street. Hanford sites that could be included are the B Reactor National Historic Landmark, Hanford High School in the town of Hanford and Hanford Construction Camp Historic District, White Bluffs Bank building, and the T Plant, among others.
Staff members for a few other congressional representatives, including U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann and Sen. Lamar Alexander, both Tennessee Republicans, did not respond to requests for comment on Monday. Fleischmann and Alexander supported the legislation last year.
A majority of U.S. House members voted for the legislation—the Manhattan Project National Historical Park Act—in September, but the vote fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to pass the legislation under special rules in the last Congress.