Remixing the Hanford Declassified Project – Closing the Barn Door

hanfordwomanputtingoutfireinwastebasketflat
Closing the Barn Door (declassified)
about 20 by 15 inches
2007
Digital Painting/Photo Collage
Based on a b/w photo from the “Hanford Historical Photo Declassification Project”.
copyright J Kearns 2007

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Read the introduction to the Remixing the Hanford Declassified Project paintings

On January 17th the minute hand on the “Doomsday Clock” will be moved forward, for which I did this painting in commemoration of the event.

Fire prevention was a great concern at Hanford, and the original photo in the Hanford Declassified archive is from a shoot on fire safety. On the table was an ashtray, suggesting a cigarette butt is the culprit of the waste can fire the woman is hosing down.

The ever-present concern with simple fire safety in the Hanford Declassified archive contrasts bitterly with what was either over-preening confidence in manhandling awe inspiring forces of nature or a terrifying cynicism that would leave to others the resultant problems beyond the immediate future. Whether which one was responsible–and likely both–Hanford, today, is said to be the most toxic site in the western hemisphere.

Continue reading Remixing the Hanford Declassified Project – Closing the Barn Door

The groundwater is already contaminated

The LA Times reports today on the situation at Hanford:

There is also an urgency to the mission, given the risk that radioactive waste will someday reach the Columbia River, the largest river in the West. About 1 million gallons of the waste has already leaked into the ground at Hanford, though government experts are confident the rate of leakage has slowed or stopped.

Government hydrologists say they have no evidence that any leaked sludge has reached the water table 250 feet below ground, and they cannot calculate when — or whether — the radioactivity will reach the Columbia River.

Such assurances are rejected by some outside experts, including geotechnical engineer John Brodeur, who conducted a comprehensive study of the tanks in the late 1990s for the Energy Department.

“Some of the ground under the tanks is screaming hot,” said Brodeur. “The groundwater is already contaminated.”

Back in April the governor of Washington State, Christine Gregoiire, told CBS news:

Anderson says that the leaking tanks have been stabilized and that there’s virtually no chance of further seepage. But Christine Gregoire, the governor of Washington State, who has worked on this issue from the beginning, doesn’t believe that for one minute.

“Let me tell you the story. 1989: They told me there was zero chance that there would be any leakage and ground water contamination. Sixteen years later, we have confirmed 67 leakers, groundwater contamination. I told them then, ‘Gravity works like this.’ And I’ll tell them again today: gravity means we are very vulnerable to the groundwater contamination and a plume that we now have moving towards the Columbia River, which is the lifeline of our Pacific Northwest,” Gov. Gregoire says.

Asked what she meant by a “plume,” the governor said, “We’ve got an area that is contaminated in the groundwater and is migrating towards the Columbia River. And if it gets there, Lesley, we have an absolute disaster on our hands.”

She’s worried about a move in Congress to cut the budget for the Hanford clean-up.

Source: Read more

What’s also disquieting is that they’re twenty years behind on a plant that they’re not confident won’t become a white elephant in the desert, as they’re not sure the thing will even work.

The separation occurs in a huge pretreatment plant, which by itself will cover the size of four football fields and reach 12 stories high. For safety, the concrete walls are 4 feet thick. The separate processes use both fine metal filters and two chemical processes, which have never been tested together on a large scale.

“They are taking a real risk the thing won’t work and they will have a $11.5-billion white elephant sitting in the desert,” said Tom Carpenter, nuclear oversight program director at the Government Accountability Project, a Washington, D.C., watchdog group.

Amid growing congressional concerns about Hanford’s technology, Bechtel assembled a team of the top nuclear experts in the nation.

In a March report, they cited a number of defects that would have to be fixed for the plant to work. They said one of the two chemical processes was “undemonstrated” and the other “will not provide acceptable performance.” The whole pretreatment facility “will be difficult to reliably operate.”

The team of outside experts also raised concerns with the vitrification processes. Once the waste streams are separated, they are sent to two different final treatment plants for vitrification. The melters in the low-level plant could wear out or fail prematurely, while the piping in the high-level plant could get plugged up, they said.

The report raised the prospect that the Hanford treatment plant might wear out before all the waste was treated, particularly if it could not operate reliably and avoid shutdowns.

The plant is designed to turn out 6 metric tons of vitrified high-level waste per day and 30 tons of low-level waste. If it can do that, it will complete the job 40 years after starting up, or 2059. If the job lasts longer than that, the plant could wear out first.

Rispoli, the Energy Department environmental chief, believes the outside assessment shows that the plant will work. All the Energy Department has to do is solve the problems identified in the report, he said.

Source: Read more

Read the introduction to the Remixing the Hanford Declassified Project paintings

Hanford Was Sexy

The instrument shows were sexy and free

1953 INSTRUMENT PUBLICITY SHOW AT WHITE BLUFFS
DDRS Record Details for Record Accession Number
“N1D0012682”
Accession Number N1D0012682
Document Number 6235-1-NEG-D
Alternate Document Number 6235-1-NEG
Title Description INSTRUMENT PUBLICITY SHOW AT WHITE BLUFFS
Number of Pages 1
Key Word(s)
Author(s)
Company(s)
Document Date 16-Apr-1953
Public Availability Date 14-Feb-2002

Sexy instrument shows advertised open access

INSTRUMENT SHOW DISPLAY
DDRS Record Details for Record Accession Number
“N1D0041937”
Accession Number N1D0041937
Document Number 4007-1-NEG-B
Alternate Document Number 4007-1-NEG
Title Description INSTRUMENT SHOW DISPLAY
Number of Pages 1
Key Word(s)
Author(s)
Company(s)
Document Date 04-Dec-2001
Public Availability Date 14-Feb-2002

Albeit materials were to be handled carefully

INSTRUMENT SHOW DISPLAY
DDRS Record Details for Record Accession Number
“N1D0041936”
Accession Number N1D0041936
Document Number 4007-1-NEG-A
Alternate Document Number 4007-1-NEG
Title Description INSTRUMENT SHOW DISPLAY
Number of Pages 1
Key Word(s)
Author(s)
Company(s)
Document Date 04-Dec-2001
Public Availability Date 14-Feb-2002

After the instrument shows, everyone gathered on the white sands for a ball of a time

1953 WOMAN POSING IN BATHING SUIT
DDRS Record Details for Record Accession Number
“N1D0014257”
Accession Number N1D0014257
Document Number 6887-1-NEG-B
Alternate Document Number 6887-1-NEG
Title Description WOMAN POSING IN BATHING SUIT
Number of Pages 1
Key Word(s)
Author(s)
Company(s)
Document Date 02-Jul-1953
Public Availability Date 14-Feb-2002

Those sands were hot in more ways than one

1953 WOMAN POSING IN BATHING SUIT
DDRS Record Details for Record Accession Number
“N1D0014261”
Accession Number N1D0014261
Document Number 6887-1-NEG-F
Alternate Document Number 6887-1-NEG
Title Description WOMAN POSING IN BATHING SUIT
Number of Pages 1
Key Word(s)
Author(s)
Company(s)
Document Date 02-Jul-1953
Public Availability Date 14-Feb-2002

They were hardy pioneers of the nuclear age, roughing it without beach towels

1953 WOMAN POSING IN BATHING SUIT
DDRS Record Details for Record Accession Number
“N1D0014263”
Accession Number N1D0014263
Document Number 6887-1-NEG-H
Alternate Document Number 6887-1-NEG
Title Description WOMAN POSING IN BATHING SUIT
Number of Pages 1
Key Word(s)
Author(s)
Company(s)
Document Date 02-Jul-1953
Public Availability Date 14-Feb-2002

They were the parents of the baby boomers

1953 WOMAN POSING IN BATHING SUIT
DDRS Record Details for Record Accession Number
“N1D0014263”
Accession Number N1D0014263
Document Number 6887-1-NEG-H
Alternate Document Number 6887-1-NEG
Title Description WOMAN POSING IN BATHING SUIT
Number of Pages 1
Key Word(s)
Author(s)
Company(s)
Document Date 02-Jul-1953
Public Availability Date 14-Feb-2002

They proved that if radiation could be sexed, there was nothing which didn’t go better with some nubile, openly unapologetic curves

1953 INSTRUMENT SHOW PUBLICITY WITH MYRA MCMILLIAN - POSING WITH INSTRUMENT AT MR. SNORF'S HOUSE
DDRS Record Details for Record Accession Number
“N1D0012543”
Accession Number N1D0012543
Document Number 6194-1-NEG-C
Alternate Document Number 6194-1-NEG
Title Description INSTRUMENT SHOW PUBLICITY WITH MYRA MCMILLIAN – POSING WITH INSTRUMENT AT MR. SNORF’S HOUSE
Number of Pages 1
Key Word(s)
Author(s)
Company(s)
Document Date 06-Apr-1953
Public Availability Date 14-Feb-2002

Another radiation instrument show publicity shot from Richland (Hanford Works) 1953. The photographer was going for…artistic…that’s the word for it. The model’s name was Myra McMillian and the description gives her as posing at Mr. Snorf’s house.

Except for, well…

1953, INSTRUMENT SHOW PUBLICITY WITH MYRA MCMILLIAN - POSING WITH INSTRUMENT AT MR. SNORF'S HOUSE

The above is, thus far, about the weirdest use of publicity sex yet I’ve come across in the archive. Painfully awkward, the clumsiness is heightened by the care taken to keep the flexible Myra’s hands from obstructing our view of the instrument.

The why of using breasts and legs to sell an instrument like this is beyond the practical me. The impractical me (if I was smart this would be the practical me) understands, yes, drape everything in the world with as much sexy flesh as you can. Which is the problem here. What’s sexy about this back-breaking pose? Two seconds down the lane, I can hear the instrument tumbling off the flimsy table (upon which they’ve not even bothered to center it), as Myra loses her balance and crashes to the floor along with what afterwards we can hope they said was only a floor model and sorry but even though you must have it today you’ll need to wait a couple of weeks for a shipment from the factory.

One thing of which we can be certain. The photographer’s mind wasn’t on production values.

Read the introduction to the Remixing the Hanford Declassified Project paintings

Child Acrobats at Hanford, Declassified

hanfordchildacrobats
Child Acrobats at Hanford, Declassified
2006
Digital painting by Juli Kearns,
Copyright © 2006 Juli Kearns
Based on a photo from the “Hanford Historical Photo Declassification Project”.

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These children, likely siblings, performing as acrobats in a children’s talent show at the Hanford Theater during the WWII years, had no idea that in a short while plutonium manufactured there would be dropped on Nagasaki, the 61st anniversary of which is today. This is something that was much in my mind as I went through the Hanford Declassified archive–and is mentioned often enough in my commentaries on the paintings–that the WWII photos depicted life among individuals who knew only they were working for the war effort, unaware they were enrolled in building “the bomb”. Though the necessity of secrecy will be asserted, the right of a laborer to privileged information which may sway their decision to work or not on a project seems an essential ethical issue.

The painting I did subsequent this one, I titled, “Closing the Barn Door”, after the idiom of the absurdity of closing the barn door after the horse has bolted, and here a girl is performing gymnastics on a sort of pommel horse against the impersonal fury of the onrushing future, Mount Fuji looming in the background as in several of the paintings, drawn from Hokusai’s iconic “The Great Wave off Kanagawa”.

The digital painting was based on the below image:

Continue reading Child Acrobats at Hanford, Declassified

A Hard Rain’s a Gonna Fall (declassified)

I’ve been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard

A Hard Rain’s a Gonna Fall, declassified
A Hard Rain’s a Gonna Fall, declassified
2006
20 w by 24 in h
Digital Painting with photo collage elements by Juli Kearns,
Copyright © 2006 Juli Kearns
Based on a photo from the Hanford Historical Photo Declassification Project.

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A girl performs on the accordion at a talent show at the Hanford Theater in 1944. I don’t know why, but this image proved to be particularly moving, perhaps because of my having been trained musically as a child in Richland (and after), and my life-long association with music through my producer/keyboardist husband. While working on it, I listening to Bob Dylan’s classic, “A Hard Rain’s A Gonna Fall”, because, though Dylan says the song is not about rain from atomic fallout, the lyrics are appropriate enough–as they are appropriate for all warfare–and spoke to a future horizon that was being projected by Hanford those few years before Nagasaki. Not that war before Fat Man and Little Boy was any less horrific.

But Fat Man and Little Boy were undeniable game changers.

Continue reading A Hard Rain’s a Gonna Fall (declassified)

Rocketship X-M (declassified)

No, they actually failed to grasp the irony of a Rocketship-XM float carrying the prized Atomic Frontier Days Queen and her court

hanfordtheaterfloatdarker
Rocketship X-M, declassified
2006
20 w by 13 in h
Digital Painting by Juli Kearns,
Copyright © 2006 Juli Kearns
Based on a photo from the “Hanford Historical Photo Declassification Project”.

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The subject of the digital painting is Richland Theater’s float entry in the Atomic Frontier Days Parade, mid 1950s, advertizing a production of “Rocketship X-M”.

Why would this float cause a riot?

Continue reading Rocketship X-M (declassified)

Hanford Trailer City (declassified)

The minimalist life Hanford style

hanfordtrailerlivingdarker
Hanford Trailer City, declassified
2006
20 w by 13 in h
Digital Painting by Juli Kearns,
Copyright © 2006 Juli Kearns
Based on a photo from the “Hanford Historical Photo Declassification Project”.

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Not everyone occupied with building The Bomb lived in the government-built Alphabet houses in Richland. Hanford Trailer City housed construction workers at the Manhattan Project’s Hanford facility, with more than 3000 trailers and an average 3.7 people living in each trailer. At its peak occupancy, Hanford Trailer City had a population of 51,000 and was the 3rd largest populated area in Washington state. Those who arrived without trailers could opt to reside in barracks, but I imagine there were also trailers available for renting.

Where they lived

Continue reading Hanford Trailer City (declassified)

Pig at the Hanford Animal Farm (declassified)

Rumors spread far and wide of an entity named Charlotte who loved Wilbur and showed the world he was some pig

hanfordanimalfram100f
Pig at the Hanford Animal Farm, declassified
2006
20 w by 15 in h
Digital Painting
Based on a photo from the “Hanford Historical Photo Declassification Project”.
copyright J Kearns 2006

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This is a pig at the Hanford Animal Farm.

And this is a pig at the Hanford Animal Farm.

1954 100-F AREA,FEEDING PIGS,HANFORD SITE
DDRS Record Details for Record Accession Number
“N1D0006093”
Accession Number N1D0006093
Document Number 10270-NEG-E
Alternate Document Number 10270-NEG
Title Description FEEDING PIGS – 100-F AREA
Number of Pages 1
Key Word(s) 100-F AREA,FEEDING PIGS,HANFORD SITE
Author(s)
Company(s)
Document Date 12-Jul-1954
Public Availability Date 14-Feb-2002

I’m not sure what they’re doing to the pig but whatever it is seems to involve forced water intake as that is a hose they’re holding in the pigs mouth and water is pouring out of the hose and into the pig. The photo’s caption reads the pig is being fed. Perhaps this could be called feeding.

Full disclosure–I’m not a vegetarian. But I believe in humane farming and am sensitive to animal research issues.

These were some pigs not destined for the dinner table

Continue reading Pig at the Hanford Animal Farm (declassified)

Romance on the Atomic Frontier, declassified


Gun-toting dancer, Declassified
Based on a photo from the “Hanford Historical Photo Declassification Project”.
copyright J Kearns 2006

The couple dancing is from one of the Atomic Frontier Days festivals celebrating the friendly merging of a gun-toting old west with the glorious nuclear future.

The photo of the sign collaged over the couple is one of many photos of signs in the Hanford Declassified archive.

They depict the real Atomic Frontier

Continue reading Romance on the Atomic Frontier, declassified

Crossing Guard (declassified)

There’s a reason for which I keep bringing up sex and Hanford

hanfordschoolsignflatnosig
Crossing Guard, Declassified
2006
13 w by 20 in h
Digital Painting/Digital Collage
Based on a photo from the “Hanford Historical Photo Declassification Project”.
copyright J Kearns 2006

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School Crossing Guard
DDRS Record Details for Record Accession Number
“N1D0053447”
Accession Number N1D0053447
Document Number 1210-50-NEG-B
Alternate Document Number 1210-50-NEG
Title Description SWIMSUIT CLAD GIRLS WITH TRAFFIC SIGNS
Number of Pages 1
Key Word(s) HANFORD SITE,TRAFFIC SIGNS
Author(s)
Company(s)
Document Date 05-Feb-2002
Public Availability Date 14-Jun-2002

Richland even had strippers for school crossing guards

I don’t remember a single stripper standing between me and my school, but the Hanford Declassified archive would have us believe that Gypsy Rose Lee’s blond cousin was called to duty to protect the children. That’s because, apparently, the below billboard of a dead child sprawled across the desert highway was ineffective. Because no one in Hanford or Richland paid attention to anything but sex.

SAFETY BILLBOARD
DDRS Record Details for Record Accession Number
“N1D0038856”
Accession Number N1D0038856
Document Number S-2697-NEG
Alternate Document Number S-2697-NEG
Title Description SAFETY BILLBOARD
Number of Pages 1
Key Word(s)
Author(s)
Company(s)
Document Date 04-Dec-2001
Public Availability Date 14-Feb-2002

Continue reading Crossing Guard (declassified)

The Shape of Things to Come (declassified)

The future belonged to men in tights, women in veils, and flying saucers

camphanfordfloatdarker
The Shape of Things to Come, Declassified
2006
20 w by 12 in h
Digital painting
Based on a photo from the “Hanford Historical Photo Declassification Project”.
copyright J Kearns 2006

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Have you ever seen a UFO?

The first modern UFO sighting is widely given as the nine unidentified aircraft observed by pilot Kenneth Arnold near Mount Rainier on June 24, 1947. He described them as being saucer-like disks.

In July, news flashed around the country of an alien craft having crashed in Roswell, New Mexico.

Nine short years later and the meme is so well-established that a saucer is the “shape of things to come” in a 1956 Atomic Frontier Days Parade float representing Camp Hanford.

If one looks up on the internet UFOs and Hanford, however, one finds that in the middle of July 1945 a UFO was observed over Hanford.

The National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena website gives the following story on an event involving airmen from the Naval Air Station at Pasco, Washington:

Continue reading The Shape of Things to Come (declassified)