Gary Petersen is the former vice president of federal programs for TRIDEC, the Tri-City Development Council, which works to promote economic growth for Washington State’s Tri-Cities (Pasco, Kennewick, and Richland) area. Before TRIDEC, he worked at the Hanford site for Battelle, serving as news manager, and in the International Nuclear Safety Program at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. In this interview, Petersen discusses the studies Hanford conducted in biology and health physics, the continuing cleanup of the Hanford site, and the future of radioactive waste disposal.
Cindy Kelly: It is September 11, 2018. I’m in Richland, Washington, Cindy Kelly. I have with me Michele Gerber, and what I’d like to ask her to do is to tell us her full name and spell it.
Michele Gerber: Michele Stenehjem Gerber. M-i-c-h-e-l-e. S-t-e-n-e-h-j-e-m. Gerber, G-e-r-b-e-r.
Kelly: Tell us a little more about your background. What did you study and how did you become interested in the history of Hanford?
Cindy Kelly: It is Wednesday, September 12, 2018. I’m in Seattle, Washington, and I have Jackie Peterson with me. My first question to her is to tell me her full name and spell it.
Jackie Peterson: My name is Jackie Peterson. It’s J-a-c-k-i-e Peterson, P-e-t-e-r-s-o-n.
Kelly: I’d love to know more about yourself and how you got involved in this. Maybe you could start by just giving a brief bio, where you were born and when.
Jackie Peterson is an independent curator and exhibit developer in Seattle, Washington. She curated an exhibition called “The Atomic Frontier: Black Life at Hanford” at the Northwest African American Museum from October 2015-March 2016. In this interview, Peterson describes the exhibition and what she learned about African American experiences at Hanford during the Manhattan Project. She explains how African Americans came to the Tri-Cities, the kinds of work they were able to obtain, and the (largely informal) segregation they faced.
Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly, Atomic Heritage Foundation. It is Monday, September 10, 2018. I have with me Tom Marceau, and I’d like him to tell us his full name and spell it.
Thomas Marceau: Thomas E. Marceau. E is for Edward. M-a-r-c-e-a-u.
Kelly: Great. So, Tom, I’ve known you a long time, but there are things I don’t know about you. It would be great to have you tell us from the beginning when and where you were born, and then how you happened to become what you are today and so involved in Hanford and its history.
Thomas “Tom” Marceau is an archaeologist and cultural resources specialist at the Hanford site. In this interview, he discusses the geological history of the Hanford area and the Native American tribes that have lived in the area for thousands of years. He also highlights how the displacement of Native Americans have resulted in a cultural and historical crisis for these tribes, because their identities, lives, and communities revolve around the lands their ancestors inhabited.
CJ Mitchell: It’s CJ Mitchell, Junior. That’s just CJ. No periods or anything. It doesn't stand for anything. And Mitchell – M-I-T-C-H-E-L-L.
Kelly: Great. I would have made that mistake. Just like Harry Truman. It’s Harry S Truman, no period.
Mitchell: Yeah, my dad was a CJ as well.
Kelly: Was he?
Kelly: You’re a junior. We started chatting, but why don’t you tell us for the camera, where you're from and how you came to Richland.
CJ Mitchell grew up in northeastern Texas. In this interview, he describes moving to Hanford after graduating from high school in 1947. Only sixteen years old, Mitchell took a job working on the trailer park in North Richland, and worked on other construction projects. At first, he lived in a tent with his relatives in East Pasco.
Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly. It is May 15, 2018, and I’m at the University of California, Berkeley. I have with me Trisha Pritikin, and I first want to ask her to say her name and spell it.
Trisha Pritikin: Okay. Trisha Pritikin is T-r-i-s-h-a, Pritikin is P-r-i-t-i-k-i-n.
Trisha Pritikin was born and lived ten years in Richland, Washington, just several miles away from the Hanford Site. Her father worked in the 100 Area at Hanford, overseeing some of the reactors, while her mom worked as a secretary at Hanford. In her interview, Pritikin recalls her love of Richland at a young age and describes the happiness of many of the people there. She remembers her move to Spain and her sudden health complications, starting when she was eighteen years old.