The Hanford Site in southeast Washington was quite the location in the days around World War II. It was also heavily classified.

That history takes center stage in the two tours offered by the U.S. Dept of Energy at the Hanford Nuclear Waste Site.

Registration for the two free tours—one tour focuses on the B Reactor’s history and the other on the current site cleanup—opens online on Monday, March 9, at 9 a.m. Pacific.

The Hanford Site Cleanup Tours, which last over four hours, include a driving tour of the site and features stops at the Cold Test Facility, Environmental Restoration Disposal Facility, 200-West Area Groundwater Pump and Treat Facility and the Waste Treatment Plant. Visitors on this tour will also get a stop at the historic B Reactor.

Throughout the onsite drive, guests learn about the area’s history as a plutonium production site during World War II and the Cold War. But guests will also see the progress of the modern-day cleanup effort.

If you want more history, dive into the B Reactor/Hanford History Tours with both guided tour and exploration time at the B Reactor National Historic Landmark. The tour allows visitors to learn about the Hanford site prior to and during World War II.

At the B Reactor, guests can see the front face of the reactor, fan ventilation rooms, water valve pit, water process laboratories, accumulator room, the reactor’s control room and the base of the front face stairway for a better view of the reactor’s cooling water risers and cross-header valves.

B Reactor will eventually become part of the newly designated Manhattan Project National Historical Park, which could include historic facilities such as the old Hanford High School and White Bluff Bank. The tour brings visitors past the old town sites of White Bluffs and Hanford, where most of the original residents of the area lived.

All tours begin and end at the B Reactor Tour Headquarters at 2000 Logston Blvd. in Richland off Highway 240. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis at The site cleanup tour is open only to U.S. citizens 18 years and older. Families with children 12 and over are invited to the B Reactor tour. 

Tim Newcomb is Engineering News-Record’s Pacific Northwest contributor. He also writes for Popular MechanicsSports Illustrated and more. You can follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb or visit his website here.