The Manhattan Project

T-Plant

John Attanas's Interview

Lauren Attanas: My name is Lauren Attanas, that’s A-T-T-A-N-A-S. I am the granddaughter of John Attanas, who we are interviewing for the Atomic Heritage Foundation today. Can you say your name and spell it for the camera?

John Attanas: John George Attanas.

Lauren: Tell us the story of your origins. Where did your family come to the United States from?

John Attanas

John Attanas worked as a chemical engineer and supervisor for the E .I. DuPont Company during World War II. In his interview, he describes living and working on the Manhattan Project at both the Oak Ridge, TN and Hanford, WA sites. He recalls witnessing the Trinity Test and DuPont’s attention to radiation safety, as well as working for the Air Force and General Electric after the war. He shares anecdotes about his parents, family, childhood and interests in chemical engineering.

Hanford 25th Anniversary Celebration

[Many thanks to Claude Lyneis for donating this footage to the Atomic Heritage Foundation.]

Narrator: About seventy-five miles northwest of Walla Walla, Washington, in an isolated expanse of open desert, civilization entered into a new age, an age from which it would never emerge the same. Here, in the home of the Wanapum Indians, the terrain is mostly scrubland, laced here and there by cheatgrass, greasewood, and Russian thistle.

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.

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