A U.S. House of Representatives committee on Wednesday unanimously approved legislation to establish a Manhattan Project National Historical Park that would include sites in Oak Ridge and Hanford, Wash., and Los Alamos, N.M.
The Manhattan Project was a top-secret federal program to build the world’s first atomic weapons during World War II.
It was introduced in the U.S. House by Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings, a Washington Republican, and representatives Chuck Fleischmann, a Tennessee Republican, and Ben Lujan, a New Mexico Democrat.
The bill, H.R. 1208, was approved by the House Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday. It’s now eligible for consideration by the full House, a committee press release said.
“Today the Manhattan Project National Historic Park is one step closer to becoming a reality,” Hastings said. “This has been a long process, and I’m grateful to the community leaders and advocates who have worked tirelessly on its behalf. I’m committed to bringing the bill to the House floor this Congress and working with the Senate to get it signed into law. These facilities have an important, interesting, and historic story to tell and this bill would ensure that their doors remain open to visitors for years to come.”
Under the bill, the Manhattan Project National Historical Park would be established as a unit of the National Park System within one year. The bill specifies the facilities and areas at each of the three locations that are eligible for inclusion in the park. Nearly all of them are already owned by the federal government and under the purview of the U.S. Department of Energy, the press release said. 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 establishment of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park is supported by the Department of the Interior, Department of Energy, and the National Park Service.
Similar legislation, S. 507 has been introduced in the Senate by Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington with senators Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, Patty Murray of Washington and Tom Udall of New Mexico cosponsoring the legislation.
Oak Ridge Mayor Tom Beehan recently testified before a House subcommittee in support of the bill, both as mayor and as chair of the Energy Communities Alliance.