I am not sure how I became fascinated about nuclear engineering in the last months. But, anyway, in the Washington state we have a unique nuclear reservation - the Hanford area, where the first nuclear reactors were put in operation more than fifty years ago. This is the place where Edward Teller and Enrico Fermi noted for the first time effects operational like the Xenon poisoning (which can cause a reactor to stall after few hours of operation, and then resume operation).

Anyway, I just noted that the site is now open for public tours: see this link for details. Here is a quote:

For the first time since the events of September 11, 2001, the Department of Energy is making portions of the Hanford site - where cleanup is taking place - available for public tours on Friday, June 24, and Saturday, June 25.

Visitors will be driven from Richland, Wash. through the Hanford Site on a route that is designed to follow the process used to produce plutonium for the nation's defense and explain current cleanup efforts, including:

  • Hanford's 300 Area, just north of Richland, where fuel was manufactured for irradiation in Hanford's reactors
  • The original Hanford town site
  • Former Hanford and White Bluffs town sites
  • Production reactors along the Columbia River, known as Hanford’s 100 Area, where nuclear fuel was irradiated. Activities in that area today are primarily focused on ‘cocooning’ former reactors and cleaning up waste sites. This portion of the visit will include a walking tour of B Reactor, the world’s first large-scale plutonium production reactor.
  • Hanford’s central plateau, or 200 Areas, where irradiated nuclear fuel was processed to recover plutonium. This is where most of the waste that resulted from processing is located, along with a number of current activities to clean up the waste.

 Unfortunately, I missed this tour. Argh... Maybe next time. (No, really, I am serious!)