The burgeoning field of Nuclear Tourism has some quintessential sites. One of the most important places from the Manhattan Nuclear Project is the Hanford Reactor in Washington.
This site had one of the very first nuclear reactors in history. Also, they produced most of the plutonium used in the first nuclear explosion in history at the Trinity Site, as well as the plutonium used in the Nagasaki bomb.
This is the kind of place that you can’t just walk up to and visit. In order to go on the tour, you have to purchase a ticket months in advance. You have to pass a lengthy background check, must be an American citizen, and fit other strict criteria. The tour can reject you on the smallest consideration, so we hoped for the best.
Thankfully a few weeks before the trip, we received word that we were accepted.
There is a visitor’s center that is the meeting place for the tourists, and then we got shuttled to the plant:
The plant is situated in the middle of nowhere nowhere. Like nowhere. Nothing for miles.
They let you in, and you get to experience the massive horizontally-loaded reactor in person. You can almost touch the control rods. It’s wild. It’s also much bigger than the Oak Ridge nuclear reactor. Kind of weird to think this bad boy was pumping out nuclear-generated electricity in the 1940’s. All the electronics and tubing looked ancient, nothing like the electronics of today.
The tour took all day. It was exceptional. Afterwards, we loaded up the grease and headed toward Huntington Oregon.