U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz signed a memorandum of agreement on Tuesday establishing the Manhattan Project National Historical Park.
The agreement governs how the National Park Service (NPS) and the Department of Energy (DOE) will work together to preserve, protect, and provide access to the historic resources associated with the Manhattan Project at locations in Oak, Ridge, Tn.; Los Alamos, N.M.; and the Hanford Site in Washington state.
“Through the preservation and interpretation of the Manhattan Project, the National Park Service will share with the world the story of one of America’s most transformative scientific discoveries that fundamentally altered the course of the 20th Century,” Secretary Jewell said. “Visitors will soon be able to see the contributions of more than 600,000 Americans who played a role in this significant chapter in history. The park will also serve as a reminder that these actions and discoveries must be handled with great care, for they can have world-changing consequences.”
“The Department of Energy traces its origin to the innovative scientists and engineers of the Manhattan Project and the work that followed through the Atomic Energy Commission,” said Secretary Moniz. “This park will commemorate one of this country’s greatest scientific and engineering achievements. It also celebrates the contributions of communities that were created for this purpose and have continued as partners for DOE’s mission. The Manhattan Project laid the groundwork for our National Lab system which has led to countless scientific breakthroughs that benefit humanity.”
The park will be managed as a partnership between the Department of Energy, which already oversees and administers the properties for the United States, and Interior’s National Park Service, which will provide interpretation, visitor information, and assistance in the preservation of the historic buildings at the sites.
The 2015 National Defense Authorization Act directed the establishment of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, which tells the story of people, events, science and engineering that led to the creation of the atomic bomb, the role these weapons played in World War II and how the role of the United States in global affairs has evolved in the nuclear age.
Jonathan B. Jarvis, director of the National Park Service, Senators Maria Cantwell, Lamar Alexander, Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and local officials from the park’s three sites also attended Tuesday’s signing ceremony.
“With the creation of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, the National Park Service is committed to working with our partners at the Department of Energy to tell the complete and complex story of one of the most consequential projects in our nation’s history,” Director Jarvis said. “As the National Park Service turns 100 next year and prepares for a second century of stewardship, this new addition to the National Park System will preserve and share one of our nation's great stories of ingenuity and scientific endeavor, as well as the consequences of nuclear technology use.”
The National Park Service convened a forum of scholars and experts from across the country and from the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that represent a wide range of expertise including scientific, historical, political, social, environmental, and ethical perspectives. The scholars met November 9-10 in Washington, DC for an open and candid discussion of the issues and themes that should be considered for the park’s interpretive plan.
Over the past year, NPS and officials from the Department of Energy have traveled to the three Manhattan Project locations to consult with local elected officials, community members, and area tribes on management of the new park. The agreement signed today reflects those consultations and provides a framework that will guide NPS and DOE cooperative management efforts.
The purpose of the agreement is to identify the facilities and areas under the DOE’s administrative jurisdiction that will initially be included in the park, and to establish a broad framework for the management and interpretation of those facilities and areas.
“Today, we celebrate the Manhattan Project as a unique period in our history,” Senator Lamar Alexander said. “But it’s also part of our future because from that effort arose many of the country’s great national laboratories—our secret weapon as we look to the future of keeping our country competitive in the world. I thank Secretary Jewell and Secretary Moniz and the National Park Service for their work to establish the Manhattan Project National Historical Park.
“Almost everyone in the Knoxville area knows something about the Manhattan Project. I was a little boy growing up in Maryville at the time, and I knew people who worked at Oak Ridge—what we called ‘the secret city.’ I didn’t know what they were doing, but today we can see what has come of their work – the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, home to one of the world’s fastest computers and additive manufacturing. The ‘Oak Ridge Corridor’ now symbolizes some of the greatest scientific brainpower in the world. So, for us in the Knoxville area, it is our history—and it is our future.”
Senator Alexander joined Secretary Jewell and Secretary Moniz when they signed the Memorandum of Agreement to formally establish the Manhattan Project National Historical Park.
To learn more about the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, visit the National Park Service and Department of Energy’s information page for the project.
To learn about the history of the Manhattan Project, visit the Department of Energy’s interactive website featuring images, essays, and other resources.