Senate Introduces Manhattan Project National Historical Park Act

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   March 11, 2013
Contact:   Kati Schmidt, Senior Media Relations Manager, National Parks Conservation Association: 415.728.0840, kschmidt@npca.org
Cindy Kelly, President, Atomic Heritage Foundation: 202. 293.0045, ckelly@atomicheritage.org
Ron Tipton, Senior Vice President of Policy, National Parks Conservation Association: 202.454.3915, rtipton@npca.org


Senate Introduces Manhattan Project National Historical Park Act

Last week, Senators Maria Cantwell and Lamar Alexander introduced the Manhattan Project National Historical Park Act (S. 507). The legislation would establish a would establish a national historical park with sites in New Mexico, Tennessee, and Washington to preserve, interpret and make accessible buildings, locations, and artifacts related to the development of the atomic bomb.

“As Americans, we have a special obligation to preserve and protect our heritage, and the Manhattan Project National Historical Park will ensure that all Americans learn about the significance of the Manhattan Project and how it continues to shape our history,” said Senator Alexander.  Similar bills were introduced in the 112th Congress, but failed to make it through a deadlocked Congress.

On February 19, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, visited the B Reactor at Hanford and pledged to support a Manhattan Project Park. He explained, “There is an old saying that those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” With the Chairman’s support, the bill has a good chance of getting through committee. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), and Tom Udall (D-NM) are cosponsors of the bill.

In a press release, Senator Cantwell declared, “Giving historic sites at Hanford the same status as Independence Hall will help honor the groundbreaking engineering achievements and tremendous sacrifices of those who labored there.”

In the latest development, Representative Doc Hastings (R-WA), Chairman of the House Committee on Natural and one of the proposed park’s strongest supporters, is expected to introduce a House version of the bill within the week. The staff of the House and Senate have worked together to iron out differences between the two bills that died at the end of the last Congress. 

The B Reactor at Hanford, buildings in the Los Alamos Historical District such as Bathtub Row, and the X-10 Graphite Reactor in Oak Ridge are just a few of the sites that would be incorporated into a Manhattan Project National Historical Park. The B Reactor is already a popular tourist attraction; despite very limited bus tours of the site, in 2012 alone 10,000 people from 50 states and 60 countries visited the reactor. The national park designation would ensure that these sites are preserved for the American public and future generations.

As the steward of America’s historic places, the National Park Service will interpret this complex and contentious history and provide unparalleled opportunities to improve public understanding of the Manhattan Project, the legacy of the United States’ splitting of the atom, and the national and global impacts associated with harnessing the atom. Americans have already demonstrated strong support for creating Manhattan Project national park sites, according to a Special Resource Study by the National Park Service.  Visitors will be exposed to multiple perspectives and draw their own conclusions about the Manhattan Project and how it has changed the world.

AHF President Cindy Kelly explained, “The National Park Service will tell the story of the atomic bomb and its legacy in a balanced manner, incorporating diverse perspectives.”

 “As America’s greatest interpreter of our history and culture, the National Park Service has a long history of interpreting significant as well as controversial historic sites, from the Manzanar War Relocation Center to the Little Bighorn Battlefield,” said Ron Tipton, Senior Vice President of Policy for the National Parks Conservation Association. “It is time for successful passage of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park Act.”

The Senate bill requires the Secretaries of Energy and Interior to enter into a memorandum of agreement within one year of the bill’s enactment determining how the national park sites would be administered.

The Manhattan Project has been called the most significant scientific and engineering undertaking in the twentieth century and deserves recognition in our National Park System. Preserving and interpreting this important piece of our nation’s history is vital understanding its legacy for the world and our lives today.

The Atomic Heritage Foundation is a nonprofit in Washington, DC, dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the Manhattan Project and Atomic Age and its legacy. For more information about the Atomic Heritage Foundation, please visit www.atomicheritage.org.

About the National Parks Conservation Association: Since 1919, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has been the leading voice of the American people in protecting and enhancing our National Park System. NPCA, its more than 750,000 members and supporters, and many partners work together to protect the park system and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for generations to come. For more information, please visit: www.npca.org.

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