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For immediate release November 9, 2015

DOE, Park Service to Create New National Park for Old Nuclear Weapons – the Ones Dropped on Cities

Group warns of cultural consequences

Contact: Greg Mello, gmello@lasg.org, 505-265-1200 or 505-577-8563

Albuquerque – Tomorrow the Department of Energy (DOE) and Department of Interior (DOI) will sign a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) outlining how the two departments will administer the nascent Manhattan Project National Historical Park.

At present the Park consists only of enabling legislation, the above MOA, and a map of initial DOE locations.  As the National Park Service (NPS) says,

Details of the park interpretive themes, park facilities, visitor contact stations, park management structure, and specifics about what eligible properties outside the Department of Energy properties should be included in the park are not included in this agreement and will be identified in future planning efforts.

In other words, there is as yet no management plan, budget, or operational funding. 

There will be various activities this week at the three Park locations: Oak Ridge, Hanford and (on Wednesday, Nov. 11 at 10 am), Los Alamos.  

This organization, which has opposed the creation of the Park, will be present in Los Alamos on Wednesday, seeking to dampen the celebratory atmosphere. 

We summarized some of arguments against the Park in a letter to six senators who opposed the Park at the time.  We will summarize those arguments and others in a handout prepared for this coming Wednesday. 

Study Group director Greg Mello: “Establishing a “national park” at operating nuclear weapons labs and factories is dangerous for the United States, and for humanity.  We should not be glorifying weapons of mass destruction. 

“The communities surrounding these sites have been eager for some sort of recognition and prestige to compensate for the mass murder they enabled during the war, and to vindicate themselves and their communities for creating the doomsday arsenals that still threaten the human race.  None of this is really in the past. 

"This Park is also a perversion of the Park Service’s mission.  If there must be a park, confine the Park to the sites which are closed.  If Congress in its wisdom wants to build historical parks in Oak Ridge and Los Alamos, close those sites and let some years pass.  Only then might it be possible to understand and objectively interpret what happened there. 

“At Oak Ridge and Los Alamos, we might as well call this the “Bechtel National Park,” in honor of the leading contractor which runs both of these active WMD sites for DOE.  The propaganda boost provided by the Park will be priceless. 

“The Park Service cannot objectively interpret the Manhattan Project at any of these sites any more than the Smithsonian could when it attempted to interpret the Enola Gay exhibit.  The Air Force Association and their allies forced Smithsonian Director Martin Harwit out.  That same faction threatened the Bradbury Science Museum director with political pressure aimed at his dismissal, when he had the temerity to display a Los Alamos Study Group exhibit about Hiroshima and Nagasaki obtained from the Hiroshima Peace Museum.”

(The Bradbury Museum is a taxpayer-funded, corporate-run museum and propaganda center that promotes the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and its sustaining corporate narratives.) 

Mello: “The Park Service is already creating a counterfactual narrative about the events of the Manhattan Project.  Its video about the project, at 0:19, says ‘The Manhattan Project was an unprecedented top-secret government program that allowed the United States to win the race to develop the build the first atomic bomb.’  In point of fact, there was no “race to develop the build the first atomic bomb.”  Germany was not working on the bomb; neither was Japan.  Under wartime conditions, neither could.  This was known by the end of 1944 at the latest.  

“Then in the same video, at 1:12, David Klaus, a DOE official, refers to ‘the atomic bombs that helped end World War Two.’  Did they do that?  That’s not a fact – it’s an opinion, and it’s not shared by a lot of historians.  It wasn’t shared by the Air Force at the time or in the immediate aftermath of the war, in its official Strategic Bombing Survey.  Apart from the fact that the Japanese were already defeated and had been suing for peace over the summer, the very rapid Russian advance was probably a bigger factor in the exact timing of the (by-then-inevitable) surrender.  The idea that the Manhattan Project ended the war against Japan is a self-serving myth that just does not stand up to scrutiny. 

“Remember that at Los Alamos the race was really to finish the bomb before the war otherwise ended.  The new bomb was important for Potsdam and for “handling” Russia, as the naïve Truman and Byrnes thought at the time. 

“This Park is an appalling travesty.  We see the Park not as ‘history’ but as pure propaganda for LANL, and its enduring mission of creating weapons of global destruction.  It is a propaganda coup for LANL’s private, Bechtel-led operating contractor, for the ‘greatness’ of the Manhattan Project and therefore the legitimacy and ‘greatness’ of nuclear weapons, and for heinous war crimes that can now be celebrated in a new National Park.  This Park is not about the past because the Manhattan Project never really ended.  It’s also about who we are today, what we celebrate and glorify, and what kind of people we will become.  Politically, it has been driven through a long-reluctant Congress by highly provincial, self-interested motives. 

“Doesn’t DOE have enough to do cleaning up its contaminated sites?  Doesn’t the Park Service have enough of a maintenance backlog?  We think NPS will come to regret this particular administrative nightmare.  We urge them to put this Park on the back burner while they try to keep their real parks from falling into dangerous disrepair, and worse.  We all know the problems NPS faces.  This only adds to those problems and drags the name and ideals of the Park Service in the mud.”  

***ENDS***


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