The federal government shut down this weekend after federal funding expired Friday, and an official outlined the impacts to the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, which includes Oak Ridge, on Sunday.
During the shutdown, there will be no visitor services provided by the National Park Service at the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, including public information, said Kris Kirby, superintendent of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park in Denver. The Manhattan Project National Historical Park includes Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Hanford, Washington; and Los Alamos, New Mexico.
Because of the federal government shutdown, National Park Service social media and websites are not being monitored or updated and may not reflect current conditions, Kirby said. All park programs have been canceled.
Kirby said national parks will remain as accessible as possible while still following all applicable laws and procedures.
“During this time, the following locations will remain open to the public and continue to provide visitor services,” Kirby said:
- Hanford: the park visitor center located at 2000 Logston Boulevard in Richland, Washington
- Los Alamos: Bradbury Science Museum located at 1350 Central Avenue
- Oak Ridge: American Museum of Science and Energy located at 300 South Tulane Avenue
“At this time, we have not made a decision regarding the open house at the Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge on Wednesday, January 24,” Kirby said Sunday. “However, if the federal government remains shut down on January 24, the open house will need to be rescheduled.”
The open house on Wednesday was announced in December by the National Park Service, U.S. Department of Energy, and Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge. It is meant to celebrate the new location for providing information about the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, which was established in November 2015 after years of advocacy. Admission to the museum will be free during the open house.
The National Park Service announced in June that it was moving its local visitor center and offices to the Children’s Museum, which is located at 461 West Outer Drive in north Oak Ridge. The National Park Service has a visitor center and offices in Oak Ridge as part of the Manhattan Project park.
The Manhattan Project National Historical Park is a unique three-site park designed to commemorate the Manhattan Project, a top-secret federal program to build the world’s first atomic weapons during World War II, before Germany could.
The park’s visitor center and offices have been located at the American Museum of Science and Energy, or AMSE, on South Tulane Avenue in central Oak Ridge. But that museum is moving as part of a land transfer related to Main Street Oak Ridge, the 58-acre project to redevelop the former Oak Ridge Mall. AMSE is moving to space being renovated in the former Sears Roebuck store near JCPenney at Main Street Oak Ridge.
Federal funding expired Friday. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a monthlong spending bill Thursday, but it did not pass the Senate Friday night, just before the midnight deadline. Members of Congress continued to try to find a solution to the two-day-old impasse on Sunday, with both Democrats and Republicans blaming the other side for the shutdown. A bipartisan group of senators met behind closed doors in an effort to find a resolution, and Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican majority leader, said he would move ahead with a procedural vote on a temporary spending bill, which would occur by 1 a.m. Monday, and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, also a Republican, offered an assurance that his chamber would pass the measure.
On Saturday, Oak Ridge Today reported that employees at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge will continue working, with some apparent exceptions. An announcement posted by Y-12 said workers at Y-12 and the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas, are expected to report to work on their next scheduled work day unless they have previously approved leave or have been given formal notice by their management to not report to work.
On Friday, the U.S. Department of Energy, which has facilities in Oak Ridge, said federal employees are expected to continue to report for work for now. DOE facilities here include Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge Office, Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management, Oak Ridge Reservation, Office of Scientific and Technical Information, and East Tennessee Technology Park, the former K-25 site, among other federal and contractor operations. Y-12 is a National Nuclear Security Administration site, and the NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within DOE.
For updates on the shutdown, visit the U.S. Department of Interior, which includes the National Park Service, at www.doi.gov/shutdown.
See the National Park Service contingency plan here.
See our previous government shutdown stories here.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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