The Atom and You

This Paramount News footage, dated March 25, 1953, shows “tests conducted at Hanford, Washington, on effects of exposure of sheep and salmon to radiation…”

Tests which blithely reassure the public the government had successfully protected the pristine waters and fishy wild life of Washington state from radiation contamination

Those sitting in the theaters breathed a sigh of confident relief.

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Hanford Science Forum 1957

Presented by General Electric, contractor for the United States Atomic Energy Commission, it’s the Hanford Science Forum and Dr. Richard F. Foster, manager of the Aquatic Biology Operation, assuring that the mildly radioactive materials entering the river are negligible and not hazardous to aquatic wild life.

He brings specimens for us to ogle!

Including a crawfish that he confides isn’t a popular foodstuff for people.

Secondly, we meet Doyle Burke, a senior at Columbia High School, and his science fair award winning dog skeleton.

I imagine Doyle named his dog skeleton. I wonder what it’s name was.

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My Most Favorited Photo on Flickr

The war effort desire for style meant Hollywood Starlet Tresses sculpted for the silver screen


Probably nearly 99% of those who favorite the photo have no idea what the description supplied on the photo means–that it is from the Hanford Declassified Project, and one of the nearly 800 photos I culled from it and loaded up at Flickr because of the government’s unfriendly navigation and search system.

The illustration recorded in the photo suggests that there was a beauty parlor at Hanford. Taken by a Hanford photographer, “normal” was perhaps what the photograph was intended to communicate, that even in the midst of the war effort vanity could and would be appeased.

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Another new Remixing the Hanford Declassified Project painting

The Fire Prevention Parade
The Fire Prevention Parade
Digital painting, 2009

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What the Hanford Declassified Project archive shows is that life was one long parade in Richland

Parades are a recurring theme in the Hanford Declassified Project archive. Their intent was to build morale and a sense of community among a non-local citizenry shipped in from all over the country.

Another common theme is fire prevention, and for good reason. The last thing anyone wanted was a wall of flame barreling down on the Hanford plant, though by “anyone” I don’t necessarily include the children who were conscripted to participate in fire prevention parades for an opportunity at center-of-attention costumed fun, because it’s doubtful that any of them were aware that fire posed a more potent threat for nuking the area than the much-dreaded Cold War villain, Russia.

For the children, the drilled dread was that fire might destroy their homes, rather than rush off to Hanford through the desert and cause a nuclear meltdown.

The big guns that showed up at the parade were heady confirmation the government loved the little desert hamlet of Richland, and if you did your part in protecting your homes from errant sparks cascading off the cigarettes of careless parents, then Nike missiles and cannon would save you from a Ruskie Slim Pickens. Having parents who smoked–and whose parents didn’t smoke?–I recollect well my own vigilance, attentive and en garde when cigarettes were wielded too casually, ash missing the lip of an ashtray and falling on the table. With every red spark, I could hear the tumbleweeds scream. For the message given us was that our parents weren’t responsible enough to not burn down their homes. Adults were something like mindless idiots who might behave at their day jobs but could be counted upon, at night, to drink too much, forget where they lived, that they had a house and children at all, and pass out in an eventual, self-medicated stupor with cigarette still lit. We, their dependents, had the job of protecting our progenitors from themselves each night, so in the morning we would all wake up with a roof over our heads.

That it was our responsibility was impressed so greatly upon us by our teachers, I remember asking one of them what of single adults who had no children to care for them and their cigarettes? Who would keep them from burning down their house?

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Nuclear Family Shelter

Nuclear Family Shelter
Nuclear Family Shelter
Digital painting, 2009

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What every nuclear bomb shelter needs a magic vacuum

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A new painting for the Remixing the Hanford Declassified Project series, this one showing a cozy nuclear family bomb shelter, with my addition of Kirby, a Japanese character who protects Dream Land with its ability to inhale creatures much larger than itself. What better a protector for Richland, than Kirby at its dream town gate, able to absorb dark nuclear shadows and annihilate them with its relentless cuteness and positive attitude.

Peculiarly, this was the only image of a bomb shelter that I came across in the Hanford Declassified archives. A headline on the newspaper in the photo reads, “Eisenhower Should Declare Intentions Now, Morse Says”, which perhaps places this photo in the 50s.

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Hanford Declassified Photo Collection on Flickr

No Comedy of Errors

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783 pics are now up in my Flickr collection of public domain photos culled from the Hanford Declassified Project. The carefully chosen selection is enough to give a sense of the trailer city, the unique war time boom town, and its mindset.

Proof that they took time from processing plutonium to dance the cancan, play violin, and hold flower shows

To the best of my ability, and where possible, I’ve tried to arrange the photos so they are in chronological order, though have departed at points where it seemed impractical. The Hanford Declassified Project contains both photos from during the war years and after. While photos from the WWII years of 1942-1945 usually were undated in the archive, they are distinguishable from post-war photos as they seem to normally bear an archive number in the lower right hand corner. Post WWII photos were sometimes dated but, again, they often were not and I’ve had to hazard a guess as to placement.

One of the reasons I’ve gone through the trouble of creating this collection is that the Hanford Declassifed Project site’s search function isn’t user-friendly, very few keywords having been utilized.

For images of pre-government settlers of the Hanford area, visit the Dept. of Energy Hanford Site Historical Photo Gallery.

"Red Rain" and the Japanese fire balloon that coincidentally found its way to Hanford

Read the introduction to the Remixing the Hanford Declassified Project paintings

Susan Och over at French Road Connections, who recently ran for and was voted into community service (congratulations, Susan), today has a post on a new book written by her brother, Tim Wendel. Titled Red Rain, the novel took its inspiration from fire balloons the Japanese set loose over the Pacific, their intended purpose being to ride the jet stream some 5,500 miles, at least, and finding home in America, settle down and get to business sparking wild fires.

A link is also supplied to an interesting video made by her brother, promoting the book, with old footage of the balloons which were kept secret from the U.S. public as it was feared knowledge of them would ignite hysteria.

Out of some 9000 launched, about 300 balloons made it to U.S. soil. Interestingly, Tim’s video informs that one of those all-too-hardy balloons made it up to Hanford and briefly derailed work on the Manhattan Project.

If I looked up “balloon” in the Hanford Declassified Document Retrieval System, might I find a record of the event?

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Model for Instrument Show Publicity Shot (Remixing the Hanford Declassified Project)

Model for Instrument Show Publicity Shot, Declassified
Digital painting, 2007
30 by 24 in.

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The painting is based on a photograph from the Hanford Declassified Project. Hanford, part of the Manhattan Project, was where the plutonium used on Nagasaki was manufactured. In 1953, the year of the photo on which the painting is based, was begun a second Cold War expansion of the site, with the oldest reactors by then operating at 20% to 50% above design capacity.

Blastoise, a turtle Pokemon, is perched on the model’s sexy lure of hip. However he got there, I don’t know, he just kind of appeared in this painting. With his water cannons he could be an evolution from a painting I’d done prior this one, based on a Hanford fire safety photo showing a woman putting out a trash can fire with a water hose. What I do know is that should his weaponry fail to protect him, though the little turtle tank portable shelter would seem an enviable security, much as bomb shelters seemed to individuals during the Cold War (and their equivalent to today’s survivalists), they offer little more protection than shielding one from the truth.

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The Ballerina, Declassified

The Ballerina, Declassified, 2006

The Ballerina, Declassified, 2006
Digital painting based on a photo from the Hanford Declassified Project.

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A child ballerina performs at the Hanford Theater during the WWII years. Her family would have been involved, in some capacity, in the production of the plutonium used in the Fat Man bomb dropped on Nagasaki. She didn’t know this. Nor did her family. They wouldn’t learn what the war effort at Hanford involved until after the bombing. Not being privy to the facts, the ballerina’s parents hadn’t even the opportunity to make a choice as to their involvement in the creation of Fat Man, which was not only dropped on Nagasaki, it was dropped on humanity at large and the whole of the planet.

As Oppenheimer famously said:

Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds…

Based on the below photo:

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