Stepping Back in Time

By DeclanMcCloskey | footprints | July 18, 2013

Our industry is at the forefront of technology and science and it can be easy to get lost in all the new developments like when we learned about particle accelerators at our time at CERN. However I got the opportunity to go back in time to a period in our industry when things were a little simpler. I am currently at Hanford in Washington State and I signed up for a tour of the B Reactor which was the first large scale nuclear reactor ever built in 1943 for plutonium production. It was really interesting to learn about the secrecy of the project, the timescales involved (beginning of construction to criticality in less than a year) and how they essentially were learning(/making it up) as they went along. It also showed how much things have come on since then with computer automation, greater safety culture and even worker demography. That said, who knows where the world would be now if not for the likes of Enrico Ferme and the other scientists of that era. I will leave you with some mind blowing facts about the Hanford site during its construction:

~ Number of employees quartered in barracks: 40,000

~ Four million lunch boxes sold from July, 1943, to October, 1944.

~ 272,000 pounds of processed meat, ready for oven or grill used in one week.

~ 18,000 pork chops for one meal for one mess hall.

~ 250,000 pounds of meat used for all mess halls for one week.

~ 15 tons of potatoes for one mess hall each day.

~ 5,000 heads of lettuce for each meal for one mess hall.

~ 1,200 pounds of onions for one meal for one mess hall.

~ 30,000 doughnuts for one day.

~ 2,200 loaves of bread used each day for sandwiches, not counting bread on tables.

~ 10,000 newspapers sold each day by recreation halls.

~ 16,000 packages of cigarettes sold each day.

~ 12,000 gallons of beer consumed each week (13 carloads).

~ 700 cases of Coca Cola a day,

~ 600 gallons of ice cream a day.

~ It would take 250 good cows to supply the milk for one breakfast.

~ 1,785,000 sheets washed. If these were tied together they would reach
from Hanford to New York City.

~ 12,000 turkeys for Thanksgiving (22 tons of turkey — 12 tons of ham)

~ Over 30 months, Hanford workers built 554 buildings, 386 miles of road,
158 miles of railroad, three massive plutonium extraction plants and
the world’s first three production-scale nuclear reactors.

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