U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman today chaired a Senate hearing discussing his legislation to designate Manhattan Project sites around the country as a National Historical Park. U.S. Senator Tom Udall is a cosponsor of the bill.
At the hearing, Herbert Frost, the associate director of the Natural Resources Stewardship and Science, said the Obama administration supports the Manhattan Project bill.
"The development of the atomic bomb through the Manhattan Project was one of the most transformative events in our nation's history: it ushered in the atomic age, changed the role of the United States in the world community, and set the stage for the Cold War. This legislation would enable the National Park Service to work in partnership with Department of Energy to ensure the preservation of key resources associated with the Manhattan Project and to increase public awareness and understanding of this consequential effort," Frost said in his written testimony before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources' Subcommittee on National Parks.
The legislation stems from the findings of a report prepared by the National Park Service and the Department of Energy that says the best way to preserve and interpret the Manhattan Project is for Congress to establish a national historical park at the three sites where much of the critical scientific activity associated with the project occurred: Los Alamos, Oak Ridge (TN) and Hanford (WA).
"The Manhattan Project, the top secret effort to create an atomic bomb during World War II, has been described as the single most significant event of the 20th Century. While its legacy is complicated, it changed the course of history and is of national and international significance, and for those reasons I believe it is important for future generations to learn from it. By establishing the sites in Los Alamos, Hanford, and Oak Ridge as a national park, it is my hope that visitors will soon have improved public access and a better understanding of the historical significance of the Manhattan Project," Bingaman said.
"The administration's support of this effort is indicative of the Manhattan Project's impact on our country," said Udall. "What transpired in the Jemez Mountain range marked a powerful and emotional turning point in history that a National Park would help generations of people to better understand."
Bingaman plans to schedule a vote in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in the coming weeks.