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Public gets first tour Manhattan Project sites

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Submitted to the Monitor

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The U. S. Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration’s Los Alamos Field Office and Los Alamos National Laboratory partnered with the U. S. Department of Interior, National Park Service, for a pilot tour of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park in Los Alamos Thursday and Friday as part of  ScienceFest.

“I believe today’s tour provided a meaningful experience to all the participants and we look forward to planning the next one,” said Steve Goodrum, NNSA Los Alamos field office manager.

The tours featured a visit to the Pond Cabin, which served as an office for Emilio Segrè’s Radioactivity Group studying plutonium; a battleship bunker used to protect equipment and staff during implosion design explosives testing, and the Slotin Building, site of Louis Slotin’s criticality accident.

The sites became accessible to the public through guided tours. The sites are “behind the fence,” or on secure government property that is otherwise not accessible without security clearance.

About 100 members of the public from around the nation were able to participate in the tours, which are the first of their kind at Los Alamos.

“These tours are an important milestone celebrating not only the success of the park but also honoring the great partnership between the Department of Energy and the National Park Service,” said Kris Kirby, Manhattan Project National Historical Park superintendent. “What an honor to be able to welcome our very first visitors to park facilities that were previously inaccessible to the public.”

The Manhattan Project National Historical Park at Los Alamos has a number of buildings located in secure areas where the public is not allowed access. NNSA, NPS, and LANL will continue to evaluate opportunities to host public tours of these historic facilities.

There also are opportunities in downtown Los Alamos where visitors can explore the community that was home to the thousands of people who came from all walks of life to work on the Manhattan Project.

The Manhattan Project National Historical Park is comprised of the three principal locations where work was completed as part of the Manhattan Project: Oak Ridge, Tennessee, Hanford, Washington, and Los Alamos.

Formally established in November 2015 through an agreement between the Department of Energy and the National Park Service to preserve portions of three World War II sites where the United States developed the first atomic weapons, the park marks the history of the people, science, events and controversy associated with the creation of the atomic bomb in the Manhattan Project.

Under the agreement, the NPS and DOE jointly manage and administer the park. For more information on the park, visit: nps.gov/mapr/index.htm.