B Reactor, Hanford Site
Year Listed: 2004
B Reactor is the world’s first full-scale plutonium production nuclear reactor. It was constructed in only 13 months, from October 1943 to September 1944, and became operational under the supervision of pioneer physicist Enrico Fermi. B Reactor is widely recognized as the building that gave birth to the Atomic Age and one of the most stunning technological advancements of the 20th century. Located at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Hanford Site, B Reactor was the first of nine reactors built on the reservation as part of the top-secret Manhattan Project initiated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Plutonium extracted from B Reactor was used in the Trinity Test—the world’s first nuclear explosion, in Alamogordo, New Mexico—as well as the “Fat Man” bomb the United States used against Japan in World War II.