World Citizens for Peace and The Bomb

Jim Stoffels
Co-founder and Chairman
April 2005

This is a personal, retrospective look at the history of World Citizens for Peace and the Hanford Nuclear Site,
as well as the political context in which both came into being. This history began as a slide presentation
for the 20th anniversary reunion of WCPeace in August 2002.
Underlined words are links to images. There is also a complete list of images.

World Citizens for Peace was founded in 1982 as part of the Nuclear Weapons Freeze movement, a national grass-roots activist movement to halt nuclear weapons production during the time it would take for the United States and former Soviet Union to negotiate a nuclear arms reduction treaty.

When President Ronald Reagan came into office in 1981, he set a goal of producing 17,000 new nuclear warheads in ten years. Plutonium production at the Hanford Nuclear Site, along with eight production reactors, had been shut down for a decade. N Reactor — a dual-purpose reactor that was operating only to produce electricity — was put back to producing weapons grade plutonium, and the PUREX chemical processing plant was reactivated.

In early 1982, a small group of citizens in the Tri-Cities (Richland, Kennewick, Pasco), Washington, who were concerned about the still-escalating nuclear arms race, began to meet at the First United Methodist Church in Pasco. On July 7, 1982, the four founding officers held a press conference in the Richland Public Library to announce the formation of World Citizens for Peace – Tri-Cities, Washington.

The founding chairman of World Citizens for Peace was Dr. Maurice Warner, a Ph.D. ecologist and associate manager at the Pacific Northwest Laboratory (PNL), a multi-program laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

The founding vice-chairman was Jim Stoffels. At the time, he was also working at PNL (now PNNL, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory) as a research physicist.

The founding secretary was Eileen Buller, a homemaker and activist who later also co-founded the Hanford Oversight Committee.

The founding treasurer was Lois Gibbens, a teacher in the Pasco School District and homemaker.

The unofficial chaplain of the organization was Rev. Paul Felver, then pastor at the Pasco Methodist Church.

To put the story of World Citizens for Peace into context, let’s go back to 1938 and look at the history of the atomic bomb and Hanford’s role in it.

History of The Bomb and Hanford

In 1938, the German physicist Otto Hahn bombarded uranium with neutrons and found the lighter element barium in the sample afterward. He sent the information to Lise Meitner, who calculated that the energy of the extra neutron caused the uranium nucleus to break into pieces, a process for which she coined the term "fission." Due to the politics of the time, Otto Hahn was later awarded the Nobel Prize for the discovery of fission, but Lise Meitner was excluded -- a flagrant case of gender discrimination.

That same year, the night of November 9-10, was the infamous "Kristallnacht," or "Night of the Broken Glass," when the Nazi SS, storm troopers, and Hitler youth launched a coordinated attack on the Jewish population of Germany and Austria. Windows of more than 7,000 Jewish businesses were smashed, almost 200 synagogues were destroyed by fire, 91 Jews were killed, and 26,000 were arrested and sent to concentration camps. It was Hitler’s persecution of the Jews that drove many of the world’s most prominent scientists out of Europe and to America.

The following year, the Italian nuclear physicist Enrico Fermi fled fascist Italy because his wife was half Jewish. Fermi came to the United States where he continued his own research on nuclear fission.

In September 1939, Hitler invaded Poland setting off World War II. The following month, a letter signed by Albert Einstein informed President Franklin D. Roosevelt that the research of Fermi and others may "lead to the construction of ... extremely powerful bombs of a new type." As a result of Einstein's letter, FDR formed a Uranium Committee to pursue research into the military application of nuclear energy.

In February 1941, Glenn Seaborg at the University of California, Berkeley, created the man-made element plutonium and demonstrated that it, too, would fission when bombarded with neutrons. That discovery offered a potentially abundant source of fissionable material for the new type of bomb.

On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor [1] [2] without warning. It was "a day that will live in infamy," said President Roosevelt. The sunken battleship USS Arizona came to symbolize the disaster for Americans.

Commenting on the successful attack, Japanese Admiral Yamamoto said, "I fear all we have done is awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve." The following day, the United States declared war against the Axis powers.

The weekly Pasco Herald of December 11, 1941, reported on the front page that "Sheriff Grover Russell made a trip to Ringold Sunday evening [i.e., the day of the Pearl Harbor attack], upon receiving orders from the F.B.I. to bring Yoshinaka, a Japanese farmer in that district, to Pasco where he is being held in the county jail, pending further word from the F.B.I. department."

In the wartime alarm, President Roosevelt signed an executive order in February 1942 that resulted in the forced internment of American citizens of Japanese ancestry living on the West Coast.

In June 1942, the Army Corps of Engineers formed the Manhattan Engineer District to build the plants needed to produce atomic bomb materials. General Leslie R. Groves, who had recently overseen construction of the Pentagon, was appointed to lead the Manhattan Project.

The Manhattan Project was begun prior to December 2nd, 1942, when Enrico Fermi and his team at the University of Chicago achieved the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction with their experimental "pile" (Chicago Pile-1, or CP-1) under the stands of the football stadium. Fermi’s achievement demonstrated the feasibility of producing large amounts of plutonium in nuclear reactors fueled with uranium.

With Fermi’s success, the Manhattan Project went into high gear in its search for a place to locate a plutonium production plant. Present-day Oak Ridge in Tennessee had already been chosen as the site for a plant to produce enriched uranium.

Hanford was scouted in late December and the 586-square-mile site (1,517-square-kilometers) was approved in January 1943. Then began the largest construction project in U.S. history.

In total secrecy, the Hanford Engineer Works, consisting primarily of three plutonium production reactors, a uranium fuel manufacturing factory, and two huge chemical reprocessing plants to recover the plutonium, came into being in the desert of southeastern Washington State. More than 500 structures were built as well as a construction camp for workers. Out of more than 100,000 people who worked at Hanford during the war, only a handful knew the purpose of the huge installation.

At three separate areas along the Columbia River (100-B, 100-D, 100-F), construction of the reactor (right) and its large cooling-water treatment plant (left) went on around the clock. Workers laid graphite blocks for the reactor core. Construction of the first reactor — B Reactor — was completed in the incredible time of 15 months. The front face of B Reactor — three and a half stories high — provided access to 2004 process tubes, into which uranium fuel slugs were loaded for irradiation.

B Reactor went critical, that is, achieved a self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction, on September 26, 1944.That it did so safely was not a foregone conclusion. A September 1943 Memorandum between the United States government and the du Pont Company for the construction of Hanford pointed out various ways in which the entire venture could fail and foretold in chilling detail the possibility of a catastrophic accident like that which occurred 43 years later at Chernobyl.

Plutonium produced at Hanford was sent to Los Alamos, New Mexico, where the atomic bombs were designed and built. The implosion design of the plutonium bomb was so novel that it had to be tested. The Trinity test at Alamagordo, New Mexico, on July 16, 1945, had a brilliance and sound seen and heard in distant populated areas. A cover story was put out that an ammunition dump had exploded.

Nine days later, a letter gave the order to the Air Force 509th Composite Group to deliver its "special bomb as soon as weather will permit visual bombing after about 3 August 1945 ..."

On August 6, 1945, an atomic bomb fueled with enriched uranium from Oak Ridge and code-named "Little Boy" exploded on Hiroshima killing some 140,000 people by the end of 1945. A street scene three hours later shows the chaos. The atomic bomb was exploded in the air to maximize the destruction from the blast.

The next morning in Richland, The Villager newspaper announced "IT’S ATOMIC BOMBS." Hanford’s big secret was out.

Three days later, August 9, 1945, an atomic bomb fueled with Hanford plutonium, code-named "Fat Man," exploded on Nagasaki killing more than 70,000 people. Photographs taken the following day by a Japanese army photographer who walked through Nagasaki recorded the devastation.

On August 15, 1945, Japan surrendered unconditionally. World War II was finally over. But the Cold War with the Soviet Union followed on its heels, leading to a dangerous and costly nuclear arms race. Hanford underwent two major expansions, in which six more plutonium production reactors were built, as well as the REDOX and PUREX chemical reprocessing plants, the Plutonium Finishing Plant, and more underground tank "farms" for storage of the high-level radioactive waste.

Hanford’s peace group gets active

With that historical background, we return to 1982 and World Citizens for Peace.

The first public event of World Citizens for Peace on August 7, 1982, was a commemoration of the atomic bombings, which is still our main event each year. Among the 85 people who gathered in Richland's John Dam Plaza was Albert Snow of Yakima, who was quoted in the Tri-City Herald as saying, "This has come out of the Hanford community itself. This is a very poignant thing for me .... It does my heart good."

At that time, chairman Maurice Warner was repeatedly being asked by his management at PNL to lead his research group in an environmental assessment of the MX missile "rail garrison" system, which proposed to shuttle MX intercontinental ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads around the United States on special railroad cars to make them less vulnerable to attack. A Quaker, Dr. Warner refused to participate in the project for reasons of conscience. At the end of 1982, Dr. Warner resigned his position at the lab, left the scientific field, and became a career counselor in Seattle. In January 1983, Jim Stoffels assumed the chairmanship of WCPeace.

In November 1982, WCPeace began holding monthly peace vigils, rotating among Richland, Kennewick, and Pasco. On January 30, 1983, a candlelight vigil was held in front of the Kennewick City Hall. One attendee, John Burlison, who also worked at the Pacific Northwest Laboratory but was not a member of WCPeace, wore his Department of Energy (DOE) identification badge as a personal statement that "there are employees for DOE contractors who are gravely concerned about the production of nuclear weapons."

In March 1983, John Burlison was fired for that act of free speech by the PNL contractor, Battelle. In firing Burlison, Battelle cited an obscure policy that was selectively applied.

The same month, the Tri-City Herald, citing Department of Energy intelligence files released under the Freedom of Information Act, reported that DOE was keeping an eye on World Citizens for Peace. The files had been started immediately upon the announcement of WCPeace’s formation and revealed that DOE evaluated the security clearances of Maurice Warner and Jim Stoffels.

A DOE spokesman stated, "We have not engaged and have no intention of engaging in any surveillance of World Citizens for Peace or its members ...." That statement would prove to be false in succeeding years.

Backing up to February 26, 1983, WCPeace hosted a meeting of the Washington State Nuclear Freeze coalition in Richland at Christ the King Catholic School. The featured speaker was Sid Morrison, then U.S. Congressman for the 4th Congressional District covering central Washington State. He, along with Rev. Paul Felver, presented two opposing views on the Nuclear Freeze. One month later, Congressman Morrison, who had helped defeat a Freeze resolution in Congress the previous year, reversed his position, saying, "Hey, let’s stop this madness and then work at negotiating arms reduction." Shortly thereafter, the House of Representatives passed a resolution in favor of a Nuclear Weapon Freeze by a 65 percent majority (278-149).

That was a busy time for World Citizens for Peace.

On March 21, 1983, a vigil was held at the Pasco train depot for the White Train, a special train that carried nuclear warheads from the Pantex assembly plant in Amarillo, Texas, to the Trident nuclear submarine base at Bangor, Washington, on Hood Canal. The White Train was so-called because the special armored cars were painted a stark white to deflect solar heating.

WCPeace was part of the Tracks Campaign that monitored the White Train’s journey and passed word of its position and progress to activist groups along the route. On this occasion, a string of 14 white cars passed through Pasco. On other occasions, the train was routed around Pasco. The Department of Energy varied the route both for security purposes and to avoid confrontations with peace activists. At some points of confrontation, such as Portland, Oregon, protesters blocked the train with their bodies.

Approximately 2,000 thermonuclear warheads are based at Bangor — only 20 miles across the water from Seattle — making Washington State a bigger nuclear power than China, England, France, India, Pakistan, and Israel combined.

The White Train was later painted in different colors in a futile attempt to fool protestors and, in 1985, DOE began using semi-trailer rigs to ship warheads by highway, where they are harder to monitor.

On May 23, 1983, WCPeace held the first-ever public demonstration against Hanford’s role in nuclear weapons production. The protest was specifically aimed at the planned restart of PUREX, the chemical processing plant that dissolved irradiated fuel elements from N Reactor and extracted the plutonium. One of Hanford’s "canyon" buildings, PUREX is 800 feet (244 meters) long, extends 40 feet (12 meters) below ground and 60 feet (18 meters) above ground. The day-long protest, just outside the Hanford 300 Area gate, brought a few thumbs-up signs, many obscene gestures, and one mooning from the back of a pickup truck.

Around June of 1983, chairman Jim Stoffels attended a meeting of the Washington State Nuclear Freeze coalition in Seattle and was amazed to find that some people there — activists, no less — were not aware of Hanford’s existence or purpose. The secrecy and isolation of the Manhattan Project was still effective 40 years later.

That situation did not last long, however. During three weeks of August and September 1983, the Columbia River Walk for Disarmament traveled 250-miles from the mouth of the Columbia River at Astoria, Oregon, to Hanford. The peacewalkers focused their message on the impending restart of PUREX.

On October 1, 1983, the day scheduled for PUREX restart, Patrick Buller, a founding member of WCPeace and husband of the organization’s secretary, Eileen Buller, announced his resignation from Rockwell Hanford. Patrick had spoken out in public criticism of Hanford operations for the first time at the Nagasaki-Hiroshima Memorial ceremony that August. The Bullers moved across the Cascade Mountains to Issaquah, where Patrick, a communications engineer, went to work for the Washington State Patrol at an annual salary $13,000 less than he was making at Hanford.

In April 1984, Hanford was visited by the women "On The Line," a group of seven women from Seattle on a 13-month walk retracing the route of the White Train back to the Pantex plant in Amarillo. WCPeace hosted the women at a potluck dinner that was held in the basement of the Pasco Methodist Church. One of the women was a former WCPeace member from Kennewick, Sande Bishop. The following day, the group spent some peaceful time in John Dam Plaza.

There were many familiar faces at the Nagasaki-Hiroshima Memorial ceremony in August 1984: Eileen Buller, our founding secretary, of Issaquah; Al Mangan of Spokane; Joanne Oleksiak of Portland; Patricia Herbert of Seattle; and the Sisk family of Richland. Rev. Paul Felver was one of the speakers. Also present was a Buddhist nun, whose name is not recorded, who was with Northwest Action for Disarmament.

The seriousness of the Memorial ceremony was followed by some comic relief — a skit written and produced by founding member and media representative, Robert Sisk. The skit was titled: "Honey, have you seen my nuclear weapon? It was lying around here a minute ago." Members of the cast included (on the right) Larry Caldwell as, supposedly, President Ronald Reagan; Rob Sisk as Moammar Khadafi (Libya); treasurer Lois Gibbens as the Moderator; and Jo Ann King as the Ayatollah Khomeini (Iran).

Paul Felver played Captain Freeze, the good guy in the white cowboy hat, and Rob Sisk played a dual role as Soviet Chairman Konstantin Chernenko. All the bad guys tried to claim the nuke for themselves, but a Peacenik played by Susan Valentine set them straight. It wasn’t a nuclear bomb at all but a peace bomb filled with all kinds of peaceful things.

1984 witnessed some individual acts of civil disobedience by Patricia Herbert, a member of SNAG — the Seattle Nonviolent Action Group, who chained herself to the front doors of the Richland Federal Building in September and twice again in December. Pat was put on two-years probation in federal court and also faced a disorderly conduct charge in district court.

Reconciliation and the "Bell of Peace"

August 1985 was the 40th anniversary of the atomic bombings. One of commemorative events in Richland was a poetry reading. One of the participants was Aubrey, a young man from Spokane and friend of WCPeace member David Gilkey. At the request of a friend, Aubrey came all the way from Spokane — with no car! He hitchhiked all the way from Spokane to Richland, and back again later, just to spend an hour sitting in a park with a friend and a few others reading poetry about war and peace.

That year World Citizens for Peace adopted "reconciliation" as the permanent theme of the Atomic Cities Peace Memorial ceremony — particularly focusing on reconciliation between Richland and Nagasaki. As a first step toward that goal, we wrote to the mayor of Nagasaki requesting something that would symbolize reconciliation. The mayor of Nagasaki wrote back a very cordial letter saying: "We would like to cooperate in your Peace Memorial ... by presenting your city with a model of the ‘Bell of Peace’ ... which is a symbol of peace in our city. The original Bell was recovered ... from the ruins of Urakami Catholic Church, and rung everyday to console the survivors of that catastrophe. It rings out now from the steeple of the reconstructed church, and a model of it is on display in Peace Park near the hypocenter of the atomic bomb explosion."

Reconciliation requires that we take care of the hurts on both sides of the war that, for us Americans, began at Pearl Harbor. To symbolize our side of the war, we purchased an American flag and sent it to Pearl Harbor, where it was flown over the sunken battleship Arizona.

Some 50 people turned out for the Reconciliation Memorial on August 3, 1985. The American flag flown at Pearl Harbor and the Japanese flag were unfurled and flown together to symbolize the reconciliation between our countries — now allies. WCPeace presented the special American flag as our gift to the City of Richland.

The featured speaker was Methodist Bishop Melvin Talbert of Seattle, who was subsequently called to be bishop of San Francisco and is currently the ecumenical officer for the United Methodist Council of Bishops.

The "Bell of Peace" model from Nagasaki arrived at the post office just that Saturday morning. Richland mayor pro tem Bob Ellis and chairman Jim Stoffels opened the two parcels (one containing a stand) during the Memorial ceremony. Bob accepted the "Bell of Peace" on behalf of the city saying, "Truly, I am touched ... by the gift from the mayor of Nagasaki and the people of his city. I think the desire for peace is universal in the hearts of mankind." Here’s a closeup of the "Bell of Peace" model.

All the Memorial ceremony photos from 1985 through 1988 were taken by Dick Gordon, a personal friend and laboratory colleague of mine. Dick said he takes a lot of pictures and, once in a while, he takes a photograph. In 1985 he took a photograph — one that epitomizes "A Peace Gathering."

Civil disobedience at Hanford

On August 9, 1985, SNAG did the first large civil disobedience action directed against Hanford. The philosophy of civil disobedience, as practiced by Gandhi and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., is that some limited violations of civil law are necessary to protest a moral evil in the pursuit of a higher good. Participants in civil disobedience accept the civil penalties of their direct actions—arrest, jail and fines. When properly done, there is advance coordination with law enforcement agencies to protect the safety of all, and participants receive nonviolence training.

At about 6:30, during the morning Hanford rush hour, SNAG and associates blocked Stevens Drive — the main road to the PUREX plant — near Battelle Boulevard. There was an immediate angry reaction as a pickup truck and two other vehicles drove off the road around the blockade. Within minutes, Hanford Patrol officers were on the scene and announced that the protesters would be arrested if they did not clear the road.

Thirteen adults and two juveniles were arrested. The adults were taken to the Benton County jail and charged with disorderly conduct. Nine of them pleaded guilty, were sentenced to one day in jail, and released the next morning. The remaining four pleaded innocent because they wanted to go to trial to testify to the illegality of nuclear weapons under international law and the hazards of the PUREX plant.

Shown here at trial, the four were (from left) Richard Lane of Richland, Rita DePuydt of Bellingham, Janet Karon of Sumpter, Oregon, and Scott Renfro, also of Bellingham. Following a day of jury selection, the trial took place on December 10, 1985. Daniel Clark of Walla Walla led a pro bono team of three attorneys for the defense. Assisting the two deputy county prosecutors was a Department of Energy attorney flown in from New Mexico.

During the proceedings, the court commissioner hearing the case ruled that he would allow the testimony of expert witnesses for the defense. One of the deputy prosecutors, in consultation with the DOE attorney, moved for dismissal of the charges, saying there was no point in allowing the courtroom to become a soapbox for anti-nuclear arguments, and the trial came to an abrupt end.

By 1986, activists were coming to Hanford in August from throughout the Pacific Northwest, even from British Columbia. The commemoration of the atomic bombings had grown into a week-long series of events called Hanford Action Week. Planning was done well in advance by an ad hoc group of activists including Barbara and Dan Clark of Walla Walla, Deborah Beadle and Gene Rupel of the Jackrabbit Alliance in Yakima, Jan Karon and Warren Howe of Sumpter, Oregon, Al Mangan of Spokane, a couple members of SNAG from Seattle, as well as the WCPeace folks.

The week’s activities included a peace camp, leafleting, public community gatherings, and a peace walk from Leslie Groves Park to the Federal Building. A training session was held in the Richland Public Library for those wanting to participate in non-violent direct action, that is, civil disobedience.

On the Hiroshima anniversary, there was an early morning rally [1], [2], [3], [4] in front of the Federal Building. Across the street in John Dam Plaza, a counter-demonstration had been prepared — a banner strung between two trees that asked: HOW ABOUT PEARL HARBOR?

The rally was a prelude to another blockade of Stevens Drive, the main road to Hanford — this time at the juncture with the Richland bypass highway. Protesters gathered at a staging area. Again, a human chain was set up across the road, and traffic quickly backed up on the bypass highway.

The atmosphere that year among the Hanford workers stopped in their cars was amazingly mellow. It was like a holiday. There were smiles and good-natured chatting. And a young woman — one of the protesters — walked between the two lanes of cars, passing out flowers.

There was a man (center, in white shirt) taking pictures of the goings-on. He was unidentified but familiar to me. I had observed him on previous occasions on the periphery of WCPeace events in John Dam Plaza — always taking pictures. I expect he was DOE intelligence or FBI. Perhaps some day another FOI request will answer the question.

Of course, there were arrests. Deborah Beadle (center) and Tana De Vieti of Whitman College Ground Zero (on her right) were taken to the paddy wagon. Twenty-nine people, including WCPeace vice-chairman David Gilkey, were arrested for disorderly conduct. Eleven pleaded guilty and served one day in jail. The remaining18 pleaded innocent. At a hearing in November, a district court judge dismissed charges against them on the grounds that the Richland ordinance under which they were arrested was unconstitutionally vague.

Not all went well, however, for Dave Gilkey, who worked as a parole officer for the Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC). Because of his arrest, he was denied access to the jail and records essential to his work. As a result, he was fired for inability to perform his job. After three months off work, Dave appealed his firing in light of the ruling that the arrest was unconstitutional and was reinstated. He continues today to work for the DOC in Seattle.

The Nagasaki-Hiroshima Reconciliation Memorial in 1986 drew a good crowd of 75 people. It always warms my heart to see children at our events. These are the children of Rob Sisk and Susan Valentine — Jacob (left) and William. The musicians and folksingers were Micki and John Perry and Barbara Clark from Walla Walla.

We were blessed that year by the participation of a Buddhist priest. Rev. Shokai Kanai drove all the way from Seattle to do a memorial chant for the dead and to participate in ringing the "Bell of Peace" from Nagasaki. Rev. Al Aosved, district superintendent of the Methodist Church from Walla Walla, and I were also part of the ceremony.

That Saturday afternoon was one of the times I know God was smiling on us. Following the Memorial ceremony, I accompanied Rev. Kanai to his car. Unknowingly, he had parked on Jadwin Avenue just north of the John Dam Plaza, where there is absolutely no parking. As we approached his car, a Richland police officer was just writing out a parking ticket. When the officer saw the little Japanese man in full robes and sandals walk up, he tore up the ticket.

The Hanford Family

Following Hanford Action Week 1986, the Hanford community responded to the intense scrutiny and criticism from the outside with the formation of a booster group called the Hanford Family. More about them later.

Around November 1986, the Hanford Action Week coalition, which was meeting regularly to plan and strategize, became COHO, the Coalition Organizing Hanford Opposition. The leaping salmon logo was designed by Lourdes Fuentes, then of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and now an attorney in Seattle.

The first big event under the COHO banner was a rally at John Dam Plaza on Sunday, April 26, 1987 — the first anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster. There was a good turnout on a beautiful day.

Among this group are Life Has Meaning in white and Dave Gilkey of WCPeace and COHO. Our newest World Citizens for Peace-nik made her debut: Courtney Frost, nine months old, with her mom, Gail Blegen-Frost, who was our secretary for ten years, 1984 through 1993.

The newly organized Hanford Family used the occasion to hold their first public rally simultaneously at the south end of John Dam Plaza. They had their musicians and we had ours. The sign says, "KEEP HANFORD’S N REACTOR SHUT." N Reactor had just been shut down in January for safety upgrades in the aftermath of Chernobyl.

Most people stayed on their respective sides of a yellow ribbon that was stretched across the middle of the plaza. The ribbon was put in place and monitored by Richland police officers, who were there to make sure everything remained peaceful. The ubiquitous Dave Gilkey ventured forth and engaged Robert Aldrich of the Hanford Family in a dialogue.

Once again, the COHO rally was a prelude to direct action. From John Dam Plaza, the group drove 35 miles on the Hanford highway out to the Vernita rest stop. There, another rally was held, highlighted by a balloon release [1], [2], [3]. Those who were going to climb the security fence onto the Hanford Site were dressed in radiological whites, looking like sacrificial lambs being led to the slaughter. Across the highway, the supporting team lined the Hanford security fence. In the background, flanked by the two water towers, is C Reactor.

Over the fence they bounded, with the Hanford patrol ready and waiting, even in the air. The expected arrests [1], [2], [3] included Lourdes Fuentes of Coeur d’Alene, Al Mangan of Spokane, Joanne Oleksiak of Portland, Oregon, and Deborah Beadle of Yakima. Eleven people in all were arrested and charged with criminal trespass. At trial in September, all were found guilty and sentenced to a $500 fine. Deborah Beadle stood and told the judge she didn’t do anything wrong and refused to pay the fine. The judge than sentenced her to 24 days in jail, including the two days already served. At that, all the rest of the defendants stood up and accepted the same sentence. Deborah related that it was a powerful experience when she heard the noise behind her and turned to see all the others standing in solidarity with her.

Interestingly, the name of the pro bono attorney for the defendants was Leslie Grove — Leslie Ann Grove!

On the Hiroshima anniversary in 1987, there was civil disobedience at the Federal Building. After a rally outside, the protesters proceeded inside to the lobby where they continued their protest. The rear entrance to the building was blocked. When Richland police officers appeared on the scene, the protesters went to a sit-in mode. Arrests began, with some carried out on stretchers. Deborah Beadle was moving too fast for my camera.

A white "limo" was waiting for the protesters, who were locked up tight.

I’m going to go back for one more look in the lobby of the Federal Building, because I happened to see something interesting. In the 1960s, when General Electric Co. was the contractor for the entire Hanford Site, Ronald Reagan, the actor, hosted the GE Theater on television. Because of the GE connection, Mr. Reagan once visited Hanford and had his picture taken for this poster.

Returning to August 1987, a special treat was an outdoor concert by the Doukhobour choir from British Columbia. The Doukhobors are a pacifist religious sect that left Russia in the 1890s because of persecution. The choir members were all high school students.

Our Reconciliation Memorial on August 9th was accompanied by another rally of the Hanford Family. The master of ceremonies was Rick Burnett, who was the WCPeace chairman during 1987 and 1988. The Frost family led the responsive reading. Ed Frost was chairman from 1989 through 1995.

We again had a Buddhist priest, Rev. Genjo Marinello from Seattle, who did a chant. Rev. Marinello had commitments with his congregation that day. The only way he could be with us was to fly into the Richland airport.

Larry and Norb

No history of Hanford’s only peace organization would be complete without mention of Larry Caldwell, an activist who had previously worked at Hanford. Even before WCPeace got organized, Larry Caldwell collected signatures on a Nuclear Freeze petition in Richland’s John Dam Plaza across the street from the Federal Building. He often stationed himself with his protest signs on the sidewalk adjacent to the Federal Building main entrance. Larry was the most outspoken of all Tri-Cities peace activists and was referred to as "the conscience of Hanford."

After Larry moved away from Richland, his spot in front of the Federal Building was taken by Norb Drouhard, also known as "No More Nukes." An army veteran of World War II, Norb retired from farming in the Columbia River Basin and became a full-time peace activist. Norb got started by protesting plutonium production at Hanford during the Nuclear Freeze movement of the 1980s. He later began a nomadic life of peace activism that took him around the world. He participated in major transcontinental peace walks in the United States and transnational walks in Europe — including several in the former Soviet Union, where he lived during the mid-1990s.

No matter where he went, Norb’s friendly outspoken manner, button-bedecked attire, and folksy hand-lettered protest signs often caught the attention of the news media. He was a colorful, caring, and committed crusader for peace, with a strong sense of morality and social justice. Norb died peacefully on April 6, 2005.

Japanese Peace Tour

A very special occasion in mid-June 1988 was the Japanese Peace Tour. Thirty-five peace activists from the region around Hiroshima visited Richland and Hanford following a Special Session on Disarmament at the United Nations in New York. The peace activists came to Richland because they read in their newspapers that the Richland High School "Bombers" had voted to keep their mushroom cloud logo, and they wanted to speak to students and teachers about what that symbol meant to them. Among the group were two hibakusha — atom bomb survivors — from Hiroshima.

By the time they arrived, school was out for the summer, but a meeting was arranged at Richland High with a few students, teachers, and the retiring principal, Gus Nash. Seated at the left of the table are the two atom bomb survivors, Mrs. Sakae Itoh and Mr. Hiroshi Hara. Mrs. Itoh was director of all the atom bomb survivor groups in Hiroshima. Mr. Hara, who was 13 in 1945, was a florist and artist. He left a copy of one of his paintings as a gift to the city and it is at the back of this library in the same display case where the "Bell of Peace" model is kept.

For a half hour, the Japanese delegation questioned Mr. Nash through an interpreter. The situation became heated when Mrs. Itoh, overcome with emotion, began talking to Mr. Nash like a mother scolding a child. Nash, a World War II veteran, said, "We didn’t start that war," and walked out.

The Tri-City Herald’s photograph of the confrontation appeared in newspapers in Japan.

The delegation then mingled with the few students present. Here Itoh-san and Hara-san are speaking with Marcia Cillan, a very articulate young woman who had just graduated. She later became Miss Tri-Cities and in 1993 competed as Miss New York in the Miss America pageant.

The following day, we took a bus tour of Hanford out to the Vernita bridge, where we began a raft trip past the shut-down Hanford reactors. In the center of the photograph is Masa Takubo, the interpreter for the group, who is now a researcher for Gensuikin, the Japan Congress Against A & H Bombs, in Tokyo. As the local guide for the Japanese peace delegation, I was included.

Launching the rafts. When the current was slow, Hara-san helped paddle.

Approaching N Reactor [1], [2]. As we got closer, persons in the guard tower noticed us and gave us a going over with binoculars.

We saw some wild life along the river — a coyote on the south bank and mule deer on the north bank. We stopped for lunch on an island called simply Island No. 1.

Dick Gordon got his photograph and I got one, too. I call it "Things Change": 35 peace activists from Japan, including two survivors of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, having lunch on an island in the Columbia River directly across from two Hanford plutonium production reactors. The reactors are D, one of the Manhattan Project reactors, and DR — a postwar reactor intended as a replacement (hence the "R") for D because of graphite swelling due to neutron irradiation. The swelling problem was fixed, however, and both reactors continued to operate.

Hanford shuts down and cleans up

In early 1988, N Reactor was placed on standby and never restarted. The United States was already "awash" in plutonium, in the words of President Reagan’s last Secretary of Energy, John Herrington. Hanford’s mission changed from plutonium production to environmental restoration. Deactivation of N Reactor was completed ten years later. The doors to the building are sealed. PUREX was shut down in 1989 and deactivation was completed in 1997.

Cleanup of the Hanford Site continues to be a major ongoing activity. The biggest cleanup problem is disposal of the accumulated high-level radioactive waste stored in 177 huge underground storage tanks. The high-level waste from the production of the plutonium in the Nagasaki bomb is still in those tanks.

Cold War ends, nuclear weapons remain

The Cold War ended in 1989 with the ouster of communist governments in Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Rumania and with the climactic fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989. The whole world breathed a sigh of relief.

Thereafter, peace activism declined drastically, but the anticipated "peace dividend" of significantly reduced military spending never occurred.

In recent years, we have seen 40 years of progress toward nuclear disarmament not only halted but overthrown. The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty was rejected by the Republican-controlled Senate (Oct. 12, 1999). President George W. Bush unilaterally withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (Dec. 13, 2001) and rejected the Non-Proliferation Treaty’s obligation to achieve nuclear disarmament. The Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT) with Russia, signed by President Bush (May 24, 2002) and ratified by the U.S. Senate in 2003, is a piece of window dressing that does not eliminate a single nuclear warhead.

Hanford continues to be a magnet for peace activists. In January 2002, we were visited by the Hiroshima Flame Interfaith Pilgrimage, a five-month walk for peace and nuclear disarmament from Seattle to New York with the Hiroshima Flame, a ceremonial flame lit from the rubble of Hiroshima after its atomic bombing. The walk began at Chief Seattle’s grave and concluded in May 2002 with vigils in Washington DC and at the United Nations in New York City.

On the morning of their arrival in Richland, the peace pilgrims walked to the Shalom United Church of Christ where a service was held with the Hiroshima flame. On the left is Jun Yasuda, a Buddhist nun who led the walk. On the right is Mike Brown, the local coordinator for the walk.

The peace pilgrims then walked six miles to the Hanford 300Area gate, where they held a vigil.

Another service was held in the evening at the Community Unitarian Universalist Church in Kennewick. Jun Yasuda and David Harrison, the Washington State coordinator for the walk, participated.

I have one concluding image to share, especially with those of you who made history at Hanford — not by making bombs but by making peace.

A dozen years ago, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. obtained the control panel from D Reactor, one of the three reactors built at Hanford during the Manhattan Project, for a major new display in the American history museum. The control panel was restored at Hanford to its original wartime black and put on display at the Smithsonian. In front of the control panel is a display case with two tee shirts. On the right is the mushroom cloud of the Richland High School "Bombers" and on the left is the leaping salmon of COHO!

There are other interesting anecdotes that could be told about peace activism at Hanford. I’ve touched on most of the highlights and, hopefully, given credit where due.

World Citizens for Peace and its many counterparts across the land continue to have an important part to play in the political and moral life of our country and world, as we work for the abolition of nuclear weapons.