The Manhattan Project

In partnership with the National Museum of Nuclear Science & HistoryNational Museum of Nuclear Science & History

B Reactor

Gilbert Church's Interview

Gilbert Church: During the construction period there were several fellows that I could suggest you see. One of them would be Phil Gardner, for example. He was a recruiter on the road, and that was one of the biggest problems that we had, was getting manpower. He would know all the detail of that. So would Buster Harris, Bill Taylor—they were associated with the operation of the camp on Burton on a day-in day-out basis.

Stephane Groueff: Is there a movie about Hanford?

Daniel Friel's Interview

Stephane Groueff: So Mr. Friel, you were with the optical side in Chicago project?

Dan Friel: Yes. My interest and activity was in the optical end. The job was to make it possible to see through walls and to see into equipment where otherwise the radioactive level was too high to operator or to work. We knew, of course, that we had to be able to see behind these walls, and we knew in many cases that we would not know what we would be looking at, because there were new and strange phenomena going on. This indeed turned out to be the case.

Daniel Friel

Daniel D. Friel was a chemical engineer for the DuPont Company who joined the Manhattan Project at the University of Chicago in 1943.

Friel was assigned to design the optics for remote operations in Hanford's T-Plant, a state-of-the-art chemical separations facility. Under Charles M. Cooper and George Monk, Friel invented equipment based on preexisting military technology to see behind walls at the separation plant and the B Reactor.

John Wheeler's Interview (1965)

Stephane Groueff: So I think the best thing is just talk. So if you want to start from the beginning and tell me a little bit about yourself, Dr. Wheeler, and where you come from and a few words about your career, and how you happen to get involved with the atomic project.

John Wheeler: Well I would say that my most important decision I ever took was to go to work with Niels Bohr. I remember writing the fellowship application when I was twenty-one years old to go to work with him because—

John Wheeler

John Archibald Wheeler was an American theoretical physicist and the leading physicist in residence at Hanford. He solved the riddle of the B Reactor going dead a few hours after it started, an event that threatened to delay seriously the first production of plutonium.

Irénée du Pont, Jr.'s Interview (2014)

Irénée du Pont: My name is Irénée du Pont, Junior. I-R-E-N-E-E D-U P-O-N-T, J-R. I was born January 8, 1920, and I have not died yet. 

Cindy Kelly: Well, that is something that we are all very grateful for. It is wonderful to be here today. I am Cindy Kelly, it is August 11, 2014, and we are in the gracious home of Irénée du Pont, Jr. And we are here to learn a little bit more about his life and the company who shares his name. So maybe we can start with your life.

Crawford Greenewalt's Interview

Crawford Greenewalt: My first contact was to go out to Chicago with a very large group of people and I have forgotten how many there were, perhaps fifteen or twenty as I recall, it may have been less than that. That is surely in the record too, where we were all exposed to this Chicago development.

Stephane Groueff: By whom?

Jack Hefner

Jack Hefner joined the Manhattan Project at Oak Ridge in 1943. Hefner was a reactor engineer and helped supervise the construction of the X-10 Nuclear Reactor. Later, Hefner transferred to Hanford and worked as a shift engineer, where he monitored the B Reactor and ensured that its operation ran smoothly. Hefner also helped maintain Hanford’s sprawling facilities, including office buildings and houses in the 700 Area.

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