Note: This story was last updated at 9 a.m. Nov. 11.
After more than a decade of work, the U.S. Department of Energy and Department of Interior formally established the Manhattan Project National Historical Park on Tuesday. The new park, which includes Oak Ridge, commemorates one of the signature scientific achievements of the 20th century. It was formally established when Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz signed a memorandum of agreement, or MOA, in Washington, D.C.
The unique, three-site Manhattan Project National Historical Park includes Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Hanford, Washington; and Los Alamos, New Mexico. It’s the nation’s 409th park.
The Manhattan Project was a top-secret federal program to build the world’s first atomic bombs during World War II—before Germany could. It was an unprecedented national program, a world-changing event that harnessed the atom, and the largest industrial project ever, employing 130,000 people at just the three park sites. Whole cities and gigantic industrial plants were built in just a few short years, and Oak Ridge quickly swelled to a population of 75,000. Plants like the B Reactor at Hanford, the world’s first large-scale plutonium production reactor, were built in 11 months, still considered a marvelous feat today. The Manhattan Project is credited with helping to end World War II through its creation of the two atomic bombs dropped over Japan in August 1945.
During Tuesday’s ceremony, officials said the Manhattan Project was a groundbreaking scientific and engineering achievement that helped end the war, ushered in the nuclear age and new discoveries, and determined how the Cold War would be fought. But it also raised important moral questions about the devastating consequences of nuclear weapons. Officials vowed to tell all sides of the story during the signing ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday morning.
“You can trust us with this story,” National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said. “We will be fair to all.” [Read more…]