Please mark your calendars for our next Resident Scholar
lecture, which will be presented by Joshua McGuffie on Tuesday, October 7th
at 2:00 PM. The talk will take place in Willamette East.
McGuffie is a M.A. candidate in the History of Science and
Graduate Teaching Assistant in OSU’s School of History, Philosophy and
Religion. His presentation is titled “A Landscape Up for Grabs: How Hanford’s
Environmental Scientists Recreated Nature at the United States’ Most Polluted
the 1960s and 1970s, environmental scientists at the Atomic Energy Commission’s
(AEC) Hanford Site in Washington State took on a decisive role in determining
the site’s mission and future. They did so amid an identity crisis at Hanford.
By 1972 all the original plutonium production reactors had been shut down. Once
the flagship of the AEC’s defense-related plutonium production line, Hanford no
longer had a core mission. In the ensuing search for purpose, the environmental
scientists at Hanford’s Pacific Northwest Laboratory (PNL) began to define a
mission for the site through their research. In 1968, they launched the Arid
Lands Ecology (ALE) Reserve, a 120-square-mile sequestered natural area on the
site’s western boundary. ALE Reserve became the nexus of PNL’s involvement in
the International Biological Program (IBP). In their work for the IBP, the
environmental scientists began to study the land and its ecosystems in their
own right, rather than in relation to the nuclear establishment at Hanford.
Through their research, they eventually came to see ALE Reserve as a pristine
landscape that preserved native flora and fauna. They worked to not just study
the reserve, but to ensure its preservation as a constitutive part of Hanford.
In 1999, ALE Reserve became part of Hanford Reach National Monument. The values
and virtues first annunciated by the environmental scientists in the ‘60s and
‘70s evolved into the creation narrative for the national monument. In this
way, the scientists used their research to create a pristine landscape right
next to the nation’s most polluted place.