Burial of Hot Goods at the 300N Site at the Hanford Project (7 pics)

Historic Photos from the Hanford Document Retrieval Declassified Archive of Burial of Contaminated Materials at the 300-N Site in 1955

Title Description 300-N BURIAL SITE
Accession Number N1D0004132
Document Number 9855-NEG-B
Alternate Document Number 9855-NEG
Title Description 300-N BURIAL SITE
Number of Pages 1
Key Word(s)
Document Date 10-Feb-1955
Public Availability Date 14-Feb-2002

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The Birth of the Hanford Project and Richland, Washington

The Birth of the Hanford Project and Richland, Washington – Historic Photos from the Hanford Declassified Archives

1943 Richland Housing Barracks
Check Accession Number on this one.
DDRS Record Details for Record Accession Number
Accession Number N1D0031671
Document Number P-139-NEG
Alternate Document Number P-139-NEG
Number of Pages 1
Key Word(s)
Document Date 23-May-1943
Public Availability Date 14-Feb-2002

“In choosing isolated areas like Hanford, the Manhattan Engineer District officers dispensed with the usual practice of locating a large industrial facility near adequate housing, services, construction labor, and skilled work force. Instead the Manhattan Project had to build and administer whole new communities and draw masses of people from other places to work at the sites.”

History of the Hanford Site by David Harvey

This photo is from May 23 1943. In March of 1943, the few previous residents of the Hanford area had received notice that they had 30 days to vacate their homes. These housing barracks were thus likely put in place around the time or after those notices.

The first of the so-called “alphabet” houses (each design went by a different letter of the alphabet) were completed in July.

The Hanford Project’s 1966-1967 study of Tri-city School Children in the Influence of Diet on Radioactivity in People

Only of interest to those who, as children, were tested by the Hanford Project in a study of influence of diet on radioactivity in people

In the opening essay for what became the “Remixing the Hanford Declassified Project” I made mention as to how, as a young school child in Richland, I was one of many who were part of a test in which we recorded, for a few days, what we ate and drank and its source, and at the end were run through full body counters–and it’s likely this post will only interest others who also underwent the testing.

The Hanford Declassified Document archive has a paper on the dietary results of the study titled, “Dietary Levels for Tri-City Elementary School Children”. I have downloaded it and links are below to it on Flickr.

Description of the paper in the Energy Citations Database reads,

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Our Visual Aid for Confirmation of a Ketchup-like Slow Leak In Radioactive Waste Tank at the Hanford Nuclear Reserve

A handy dandy visual Aid for Hanford Nuclear Reservation managers confirming a leak in AY-102, which they say, however, is slow, like ketchup

We have been watching the news about the AY-102 tank at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington State, to see what would develop. Yesterday, a friend send me this article in which the leak of the inner shell of the 44 year old tank is confirmed, but we are assured that the radioactive material is not reaching the environment and is, indeed, a slow leak.

Like ketchup.

Tom Fletcher, one of the top managers, reports, “I would say I’d say it’s more like ketchup,” he explains. “This is not a water like consistency material. It’s moving very, very slow.”

Despite the assurance the radioactive material isn’t reaching the environment, I told my friend the “ketchup” remark was begging for a visual aid. So I asked my 14 year old son, Aaron, to prepare one.

He did, and here it is.


Life Magazine’s Article on the Hanford Project’s Plastic Man

Homer Moulthrop and the Hanford Project’s Plastic Man

A couple of weeks ago, I suggested to the always interesting website Retronaut that photos of Plastic Man, from the Hanford declassified archive, might be of suitable interest to them and readers, and a few were posted. Plastic Man remains one of the more curious looking Hanford creations, though society is a few generations beyond being accustomed to the appearance and necessity of protective gear. Plastic Man was and remains a curiosity because he was a futuristic collision with farmers and sheep ranchers. He promised clean, safe energy while so hidden in his protective suit that his individual humanity was easily displaced by that which shielded him from radiation contamination. Several years ago I put up this blog post on that collision, with photos of him, and had also done a digital painting based on a photo from the early Richland Atomic Frontier parades in which he was featured on a float (see prior link).

Recently going through the archives again, within the last two weeks I came across a photo of Plastic Man coupled with then name Homer Moulthrop. No explanation was given, and the name Homer Moulthrop wasn’t consistent, sometimes spelled differently.

Shortly thereafter I found in the April 5, 1954 issue of “Life” magazine an article on Homer Moulthrop, who turns out to have been the creator of Plastic Man.

Plastic Man is also weirdly endearing because of the unwieldy appearance of the suit, presenting the appearance of a plastic toddler, muscles not yet finely tuned, legs stiff and splayed. In certain poses he looks as though he should be playing with blocks, and was perhaps less alarming than amusing, though we shall see below he was dubbed Homer’s Hideous Hallucination.

April 5 1954 Pg. 1

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Halloween, Sex, and The Atomic Frontier – The Hanford Project, 1951

Historic photos from the Hanford Project Atomic Frontier – It’s Halloween and the woman in blue is thinking, “What if I’m having sex when the bomb drops? Will I go to hell?”

Remixing the Hanford Declassified Project - It's Halloween and...

The mind-set was not, “What if I die before I (fill in the blank).”

The mind-set was instead, “What if the bomb drops before…”

I’ve gathered a few Halloween photos from the Hanford declassified archive–the three here (plus one of them that I’ve taken the liberty of tinting) are of a Halloween party for dorm 21, year 1951. They provide a nice view on Halloween decorations of the era, the orange and black crepe paper streamers, silhouette of a shapely broom-riding witch against a harvest moon, attended by bats, and a come-hither spider on another wall inviting partiers into its parlor. A man plays at being the ghost of Sleepy Hollow with a small, carved pumpkin for his head.

Considering the era, and the dreamy look in the eyes of the woman whose companion has tucked his head into her neck, his hand seductively curling hers on his shoulder, seems to me this may very well have been on the woman’s mind. The bomb could happen at any time, and what if they did have sex after the dance–it would be one thing for the bomb to drop while she was being good, but what if it dropped while she was being not so good? Culture was entwined with god, proceeded from god, and how ever would she explain herself to a judgmental deity who demanded there be no sex outside of marriage?

An individual of such mind would also wrestle with the dismal prospect of what if the bomb dropped and she or he had not had sex yet?

“Bewitched” was a big hit song of 1950. Perhaps they were dancing to this.

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The Atomic Frontier Meets Slim Pickens at the Boy Scout Circus

Staged Mock Air Raids on the Atomic Frontier Were for the Purpose of…?

For education, entertainment, and a likely badge, Boy Scouts of the Richland, Washington Atomic Frontier engineered the spectacle of a mock air raid for the Boy Scout circus in 1952. Though Camp Hanford was installed in 1951 to provide air protection for the Hanford Project and area, there was always the possibility a few army pilots could be out on a cigarette break and Slim Pickens might make his way through on the bomb. What would happen if he did? We learn in these two historic photos from the Hanford declassified archives.

Richland seems to be envisioned by the town youth as a strange combination of a few non-regular pyramids, some comparatively large house trailers, and a single cardboard prefab.

Oh, wait, I get it. The split pyramids are probably mountains. Don’t you like the trees painted on the cardboard house? I think of the child–or his mom or dad–who spent time putting together this house for the Boy Scout circus mock air raid, and all the while they built it and decorated it with trees they thought of the bomb that could make it through and destroy their sweet home.

This is high drama, folks. People are seated on the edges of their bleacher seats watching their worst nightmare unfold and wondering how many pieces there will be to pick up afterward. Tonight, they will learn.

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The Little Red Plutonium-Porting Wagons of the Hanford Project

Historic Photos from Hanford Declassified Documents of The Little Red Plutonium-Porting Wagons of the Hanford Project

Yesterday, I posted a March 28, 1955 article from Life magazine, “Hot Work for Toys at Hanford”, on the use of toy trains and wagons to carry too-hot-to-handle radioactive materials from point to point at the Hanford Project in Washington State.

Curious if I could find any documents on the preparation for the article (decisions on what was safe to make public) I went to the Hanford declassified document retrieval system. I have found no such document so far, nor did I find pics of toy trains in use at Hanford, but I did find wagons. A nice crop of rather interesting pictures.

First, let’s refresh our memory with the red wagon pic we saw yesterday.

March 28 1955 Hanford article, page 1, "Hot Work for Toys"

Was this pic taken by the same photographer of the below pics? I don’t know what the story is on this, but we see an evolution in attire. The above photo shows our technician covered from head to toe in protective gear, and security is standing what we are to take as a safe distance away from that heat passing him by.

The male technician in the below top two photos is neither as covered nor dapper. His face is exposed, as is much of his head, as well as his neck, and his onesie suit is buttoned low revealing some sexy chest. The toes of his shoes look a little too clever to be the protective boots I’ve seen in photos of protective gear.
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“Hot” Work for Toys at Hanford – The Life Article

Instead of pulling from the Hanford Declassified Project stockpile of images that continues to build on my computer, today’s posting is an article that appeared in “Life” magazine’s March 28, 1955 issue. The subject, the use of toys at Hanford for porting radioactive materials, including a photo of a man in a shielded area looking over the little toy railroad trusted to carry radioactive materials, a radiation sign observed to the right.

Would these have been Lionel trains?

Life March 28 1955

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The Wheel of Death – 1950’s Richland, Home of the Atomic Frontier

Historic Photo of the Wheel of Death from the Hanford Declassified Document Retrieval System

DDRS Record Details for Record Accession Number
Accession Number N1D0035545
Document Number 2111-1-NEG-R
Alternate Document Number 2111-1-NEG
Number of Pages 1
Key Word(s)
Document Date 04-Dec-2001
Public Availability Date 14-Feb-2002

Yeah, you weren’t expecting this when you saw that title, I know. Many individuals under a certain age have never had an opportunity to take a ride on one of these spinners which provided an awesome dopey experience of fighting G force physics which had every intention of killing you if your sweaty little hands let loose of the metal bar secured to a likely wobbly wooden base that sounded kathunk kathunk kathunk as it merrily whirled, threatening to itself let loose of its pedestal. And if it was fun hanging your head back and watching the world blend together into a dizzying smear of colors, quadruple the fun came when, as the wheel slowed, you leaped off, proved your stamina by standing your ground, then pitched yourself into the final thrill by attempting to walk. Less fun was when your turn came to spin the wheel. Dangerous ground threatened to cause you to fall and suck you under the death trap, or at least take all the skin off your hands and knees. The goal was to be able to run, run run till you had the wheel spinning faster than anyone had ever spinned it before then leap on, which was usually managed but always one felt lucky not to slip and have a leg go under the wheel and snap, like (fill in name) had happen the year before and was never seen on the playground again.

We felt triumphant for surviving our toys.

Even in the old days there were sensible playgrounds that didn’t have the Spinner, and I hated them. But we all also liked hopping on our bikes and chasing after the DDT trucks as they rolled down the street spraying for mosquitoes. Where was the thick cloud of sweet DDT perfume, at least a dozen kids would be pursuing to the last microscopic aerosol droplet.

Just because something was fun doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing to let bygones be bygones.

Read the introduction to the Remixing the Hanford Declassified Project series of posts and digital paintings. View all digital paintings here.