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House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), Congressman Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.), and Congressman Ben ray Luján (D-N.M.) Friday introduced bipartisan legislation (H.R. 1208) in the House of Representatives to establish a Manhattan Project National Historical Park that will encompass facilities in Hanford, Wash.; Oak Ridge, Tenn.; and Los Alamos.
The Manhattan Project was an unprecedented top-secret program to construct a nuclear weapon during World War II. This effort combined military and scientific resources and involved hundreds of thousands of workers.
"The Manhattan Project is a significant chapter in America's history. The establishment of this park will ensure that this history is preserved and that facilities, such as Hanford's B Reactor, will remain open and accessible for future generations to visit. I'll continue to work with advocates in these local communities, as well as with my colleagues in both the House and the Senate, towards the goal of getting this bill enacted into law," Hastings said.
"Oak Ridge and the other Manhattan Project sites played a significant role in the security of our nation and the world. Creation of this park will provide access to the public and help spread the story of the outstanding work done by the men and women of East Tennessee and the other sites. I am honored to sponsor this bill with Chairman Hastings and look forward to working with him towards its passage," Fleischmann said.
"More than 50 years ago, Los Alamos National Laboratory was created to build an atomic explosive to counter the threat posed by the German nuclear development program during World War II. It is important that we preserve this story and the others of the nuclear age so that future generations can understand the impact of this project on the world for both the good and the bad. This legislation ensures that the legacy of the Manhattan Project and the people who were instrumental to its goal will not be forgotten. A national historical park in these communities will help tell this story and allow us to reflect on how this project changed the world and how we can move forward ensuring peace and prosperity," said Congressman Luján.
The bill directs that the Manhattan National Historical Park be established as a unit of the National Park System within one year and specifies the facilities and areas at each of the three locations that are eligible for inclusion. Nearly all of these facilities and areas are currently owned by the federal government and under the purview of the Department of Energy, with which the bill directs the Secretary of the Interior to enter into an agreement that will include provisions for enhanced public access, management, interpretation, and historic preservation. The establishment of the Manhattan Project National Park is supported by the Department of the Interior and the National Park Service.
The bill received a bipartisan, majority vote last Congress. However, it did not receive the two-thirds support necessary to pass when it was brought to the floor under "suspension of the House rules" - an expedited and abbreviated process for considering and voting on bills.
Similar bipartisan legislation (S. 507), sponsored by Senators Maria Cantwell (WA) and Lamar Alexander (TN) was introduced in the Senate last week.