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Blog

Cold war tourism hotspot

hanford.jpg

By Hamish Johnston

Is it cold and rainy where you are?

Then why not pack your bags for Hanford, Washington, where the forecast calls for blazing sunshine and temperatures in the mid-30s (90s in old money) for the rest of the week.

While in town you could take a guided tour of the famous “B Reactor” at Hanford, where much of the plutonium for the Manhattan project was made. Some of this material ended up in the “Fat Boy” bomb that detonated over Nagasaki.

After fuelling many a cold-war weapon, Hanford B was shut-down in 1968 — but instead of being “entombed” like its neighbours, the reactor was designated a National Historic Landmark last year.

The plan is to turn the reactor into a museum and the Department of Energy is gearing up by offering occasional guided tours of the site — and the BBC’s Rajesh Mirchandani boarded the tour bus for what was a front line in the Cold War. You can watch his report here.

But don’t bring the kids — tourists must be at least 18 — and wear sensible shoes.

hanford2.jpg
Hanford guide Michelle Gerber

Remaining tours for this year are on July 25, August 8, 15, 22, and 29
and September 5, 12, 19, and 26. Hanford’s online booking system says the tours are fully booked, but suggests you check back occasionally in case anyone has dropped out.

And if Hanford B is like most defunct reactors worldwide, it will be there for a very, very long time — so you’ll get your chance to see it eventually!

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