Manhattan Project National Historical Park Dedication Draws in Y - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Manhattan Project National Historical Park Dedication Draws in Youngest Visitors in History

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That means anyone, no matter the age, can walk inside one of Washington State's most important pieces of American history. That means anyone, no matter the age, can walk inside one of Washington State's most important pieces of American history.

HANFORD, WA- President Bush signed the Manhattan Project National Historical Park Study Act 11 years ago.  Just a few days ago, Department of Energy and Interior leaders signed the Memorandum of Agreement, outlining everyone's responsibilities for running the park. On Thursday, a National Park sign and flag were raised at the first Hanford Nuclear Reactor.

"It is completely different, you did not talk about anything you did at work, unless you were at work," recalls Gary Busselman, who is a B Reactor Tour Guide. In a matter of 60 years, so much has changed for Busselman, a former Hanford Physicist, "We've had a huge effort over many, many years the B Reactor Museum Association, to get people to be allowed to come in here.

Recently, the Department of Energy has also thrown away the age requirement to tour the B Reactor. The site has has more than 50,000 visitors since 2009 but since the national park establishment, researchers estimate that number will jump to 100,000 a year. About $15.7 billion dollars is brought in nationally from parks across the U.S.

For these kids, it is the first time they have seen anything like this, "They set it here, they set the B Reactor here because of the Columbia River," explained fourth grade student Olivia Salas from White Bluffs Elementary. "They made the B Reactor, bomb, and plutonium so that is pretty cool," said Frankie Maddalena. Riley Robbins who is also a fourth grader told NBC Right Now the B Reactor made, "Plutonium, to make the atomic bomb, Nagasaki, in Japan."

Ironically, most of the kids attending the Manhattan Project National Historical Park dedication are from White Bluffs Elementary, named after one of the small towns turned over to the government for plutonium production.

Busselman and so many others get to share and learn on-site together. "Doc Hastings and I have been working on this for 11 years, so it has finally become a law, the signing of the actual agreement. This makes it official between the Department of Energy and Interior, that is something that happened just two days ago," said Senator Maria Cantwell.

This national park is made up of three sites, one in Los Alamos, New Mexico, another in Oak Ride, Tennessee and the third in Hanford, Washington. "We have a pretty good story," said Busselman.

"The park service has a program for the fourth graders to get a pass for their family to all the national parks," explained Busselman, "10-year-old's want to know different things like, how do you make bombs? Are there any bombs there? No. We there ever bombs? No. Well, how do you make a bomb?" 

That means anyone, no matter the age, can walk inside one of Washington State's most important pieces of American history.

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