Re: “Hanford’s B Reactor: A park haunted by the 20th century” (editorial, 8-20).
I believe the B Reactor is fine the way it is, and I believe it’s a mistake to turn it into a park.
I visited the B Reactor in 2009. At that time, public tours were infrequent, space was limited and reservations were hard to come by. My tour group found the building very much as it was when shut down in 1968, save for the necessary clean-up work. There was little sign the place had become a museum.
In the control room, I stood inches away from the console where Enrico Fermi himself orchestrated the plant’s first operations, and the only thing that kept me from pushing the buttons was that I had my hands in my pockets.
All of this will change if the National Park Service is allowed to turn the place into a tourist destination. It will become necessary to rope off the relics and put them under glass. Increased visitor traffic will cause deterioration, and the experience of seeing the place first-hand will be diminished and become trite.
I don’t believe Sen. Maria Cantwell and Congressman Doc Hastings have the B Reactor’s historical value at heart. I think the goal is to attract tourist dollars. And votes.