Hanford history

1943 Memorandum for the construction of Hanford

A fascinating and highly readable historical document, this Memorandum between the United States government and the du Pont company describes the scope of work involved in constructing the entire Hanford Engineer Works (referred to as the "Plant"), consisting of three plutonium production reactors (piles), a uranium fuel manufacturing factory, and two huge chemical reprocessing plants to recover the plutonium.

Written in September 1943, about nine months after du Pont and the government signed an informal letter-of-agreement that initiated work on Hanford, the Memorandum tells how extremely reluctant du Pont was to take on the massive and highly speculative project. It describes the technical aspects of the nuclear transmutation process for changing uranium into plutonium and points out the various ways in which the entire venture could fail. It foretells in chilling detail the possibility of a catastrophic accident like that which occurred 43 years later at Chernobyl.

"Hanford and History," B Reactor 60th anniversary address by Richard Rhodes

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