Manhattan Project Historical Park Site Bill Moves Through Congress

Chairman Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) today introduced legislation that would designate Manhattan Project sites around the country as a National Historic Park. 

Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Tom Udall (D-NM) and Patty Murray (D-WA) are cosponsors of S. 3300

In the House of Representatives, Natural Resources Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA) said today that he will introduce a similar bill when the House returns to session next week.

As an expert panel of historians reported in 2001, the top-secret program to create an atomic bomb during World War II centered in Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, Tenn. and Hanford, Wash. 

That effort has been called “the single most significant event of the 20th century.”

“Providing visitors with opportunities to form their own intellectual and emotional connections with the significance of sites to be included in the Manhattan Project National Historical Park helps them understand its relevance to our shared national heritage,” Bingaman explained. “There is no better place to understand history than where it happened, and that’s what national parks and the National Park Service do best.”

The National Park Service, at the direction of Congress, conducted a special resource study on several Manhattan Project sites for possible inclusion in the National Park System.  

The study recommends that the best way to preserve and interpret the Manhattan Project is for Congress to establish a national historical park at the three sites where much of the critical scientific activity associated with the project occurred: Los Alamos, Oak Ridge and Hanford. 

Operating from December 1942 until September 1945, the Manhattan Project was a $2.2 billion effort that employed 130,000 workers at its peak, but was kept largely secret and out of public view. 

Bingaman’s bill calls for the U.S. Department of Energy to partner with the National Park Service in developing and managing the proposed park, as most of the sites are under Department of Energy administration.  

They would be directed to consult with the public and other stakeholders to develop a management plan.

Editor’s Note: Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., also is expected to introduce legislation in the House early next week.

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