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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Oral Histories

General Kenneth Nichols’s Interview – Part 3

General Kenneth Nichols was the District Engineer for the Manhattan Engineering District, and oversaw the design and operation of the Hanford and Oak Ridge sites. He was responsible for securing the initial deals with Stone & Webster and the DuPont Company to develop the industry for the site, and lived for a time with his wife at Oak Ridge. He discusses sabotage and Klaus Fuchs, dealings with the British, and the very start of the Manhattan Project. He recalls some conflict between the scientists and engineers, the importance of industry in the project, and the initial problems with the startup of the B Reactor.

Everett Weakley’s Interview

Everett Weakly arrived in Hanford in 1950 after graduating from the University of Idaho as a chemical engineer. Weakley was hired by DuPont to can fuel elements in the 300 Area at Hanford. Weakley discusses the different techniques used to extract uranium and explains the methods behind the “triple-dip” process and the “lead-dip” process used to can the uranium fuel elements. Weakley also discusses how the uranium was shipped from Hanford and recounts the safety measures DuPont put in place to protect its workers.

Irene LaViolette’s Interview

Irene LaViolette was born in the United States and raised in Greece. During the Nazi invasion of Greece, she worked as a nurse, and encouraged the nurses to strike when the Germans took over her hospital. In 1941, she joined a repatriation group to return to America. After studying chemistry at Barnard, she began to work for the DuPont Company. There she met her husband, Fred. When Fred was transferred to Hanford, she went with him, and worked on analyzing the Columbia River’s water and checking Geiger counters.