Virginia Ballard was born in Charleston, West Virginia. Her parents immigrated to the US from Scotland. In 1944, Ballard’s family moved to Richland, Washington where her father worked for DuPont. After attending college, Ballard went to work for GE and Exxon Nuclear. Her last job before retirement was as executive secretary to the manager for Siemens. Ballard has two children – Bruce and Diane – with her husband Dan.
Carol Roberts moved to Hanford with her family in 1944 after her father was hired by DuPont to work as an electrician on the B Reactor. In this interview, she vividly describes life in Richland during the Manhattan Project. Roberts mentions local segregation, dust storms, the housing, social opportunities, and the challenges women faced in raising a family. Roberts champions the role of women in local history, including Leona Marshall Libby’s work on the B Reactor.
Cindy Kelly: I’m Cindy Kelly. It is September 11, 2018, and I have with me John Fox. I’d like him to start by saying his full name and spelling it.
John Fox: All right. My full name is John Fox. J-o-h-n F-o-x. I’ve always been grateful that I had a short name.
Kelly: John, I know you’ve had an illustrious career here. I want you to start from the beginning, when and where you were born and how you came to—
John is a mechanical engineer who worked for the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Battelle. He later served as mayor of Richland, WA and president of the B Reactor Museum Association. In this interview, Fox recounts his experiences working at Hanford during the Cold War and the Korean War in the 1950s. He discusses the reprocessing ban instituted by the Carter Administration and the challenges that have caused delays in building the Vitrification Plant.
Cindy Kelly: Okay. I’m Cindy Kelly. It is Monday, September 10, 2018, and I have with me Gary Petersen. My first question to Gary is to please say his full name and spell it.
Gary Petersen: Gary Petersen, P-e-t-e-r-s-e-n. Gary is G-a-r-y, so that’s easy.
Kelly: Terrific. Well, Gary, you have the most fascinating history and I want to start with the beginning. Where and when you were born and your education. A little bit about what brought you to the Tri-Cities [Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland, Washington].
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.
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?