8/28/2008--Hanford, WA, USA..THe central control panels in the control room of the B-Reactor at the Hanford Site, Washington, along the banks of the Columbia River. ..The reactor was the first large scale plutonium production reactor ever built and started production in December, 1944. The project was commissioned under the Manhattan Project, during World War II, to develop the first nuclear weapons. The B-Reactor was shut down in 1968 and on August 25th, 2008, was declared a National Historic Landmark and is now open to tourists...The reactor was graphite moderated and water cooled. It consisted of a 28 by 36-foot, 1,200-ton graphite cylinder lying on its side, penetrated through its entire length horizontally by 2,004 aluminum tubes, the ends which can be seen here. Two hundred tons of uranium slugs the size of rolls of quarters and sealed in aluminum cans went into the tubes...During the Cold War, the Hanford project was expanded to include nine nuclear reactors and five massive plutonium processing complexes, which produced plutonium for most of the 60,000 weapons in the U.S. nuclear arsenal. The weapons production reactors were decommissioned at the end of the Cold War, but the manufacturing process left behind 53 million U.S. gallons of high-level radioactive waste that remains at the site. Hanford is the most contaminated nuclear site in the United States and is the focus of the nation's largest environmental cleanup, providing thousands of jobs to residents in nearby towns such as Richland...©2008 Stuart Isett. All rights reserved.