Interview with Dan Carter

Dublin Core


Interview with Dan Carter


Hanford Site (Wash.)
Richland (Wash.)
Pasco (Wash.)
African American colleges and universities
Civil rights
Civil rights movements


Dan Carter moved to Richland, Washington in 1964 and worked on the Hanford Site from 1964-1996.

A National Park Service funded project to document the history of African American contributions to Hanford and the surrounding communities. This project was conducted through the Pacific Northwest Cooperative Ecosystems Unit, Task Agreement P17AC01288


Hanford Oral History Project at Washington State University Tri-Cities




Those interested in reproducing part or all of this oral history should contact the Hanford History Project at, who can provide specific rights information for this item.




The Hanford Oral History Project operates under a sub-contract from Mission Support Alliance (MSA), who are the primary contractors for the US Department of Energy's curatorial services relating to the Hanford site. This oral history project became a part of the Hanford History Project in 2015, and continues to add to the US Department of Energy collection. This oral history collection was done in partnership with the National Park Service under Task Agreement P17AC01288.

Oral History Item Type Metadata


Robert Franklin


Dan Carter


Washington State University - Tri Cities

Original Format

Robert Franklin: My name is Robert Franklin and I am conducting an oral history interview with Daniel Carter on February—

Tom Hungate: 19th.

Franklin: 19th, thank you, 2018. The interview is being conducted on the campus of Washington State University Tri-Cities. I’ll be talking with Dan about his experiencing living in the Tri-Cities and working at the Hanford Site. And for the record, can you state and spell your full name for us?

Dan Carter: Daniel G. Carter, Junior.

Franklin: Okay, and can you spell that out?

Carter: D-A-N-I-E-L, G, C-A-R-T-E-R, Junior, J-R.

Franklin: Great, thanks a lot, Dan. So tell me how you first came to the Tri-Cities area.

Carter: Well, I was recruited by GE, that I refer to as Generous Electric, and I think that’s because of the fact that they had their own appliance store here and we found it very generous of them to allow us to buy GE appliances at a discount.

Franklin: Okay. [LAUGHTER]

Carter: I was recruited by GE, and I was supposed to be going to Florida. And then I got a call from Schenectady. They said, no, we want you to go out to the Hanford Site near Pasco, Washington. Do you know where it is? Nope, never heard of it. So, that started the ball rolling, and I started getting calls from the HR people here with GE at Hanford, trying to schedule a date for me to come out for an interview. And it took me a couple of months to do that, because I was teaching school at the time. And I told them I had to wait until the school year was over before I could break loose and take a trip out here.

Franklin: Where were you living at the time?

Carter: In Louisiana.

Franklin: Are you from Louisiana originally?

Carter: Yes, I’m originally from Louisiana.

Franklin: Could you give us your birthdate?

Carter: September the 19th, 1939.

Franklin: Great, thanks. So what was your educational background at that time?

Carter: I graduated from Southern University in Baton Rouge with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry.

Franklin: Okay, and is that what you were teaching?

Carter: I taught chemistry, general science, physics, and geometry. [CHUCKLING]

Franklin: And what position had you applied for at General Electric?

Carter: Just a scientific position.

Franklin: Okay. And when you were living in Louisiana, that was—you were born into segregation.

Carter: That’s correct.

Franklin: Right, and Louisiana was still segregated at that time?

Carter: That’s correct.

Franklin: Can you talk about how that impacted your life and your education?

Carter: Well, first of all, I went to a segregated school all twelve years of secondary education. It was interesting that, at that time, due to the segregated system, our school was lower on the totem pole for resources. For example, the textbooks that I got were not new. They were used textbooks that were sent over from the all-white high school when they got new textbooks. It was in later years that they decided they were going to try to do better and started giving the all-black schools new textbooks. And started building some new buildings at that time. When I went to Southern University in Baton Rouge, I had no choice of going to Louisiana State University. However, if you were in graduate school, you could possibly get into a program at that university. But for undergraduate work, you couldn’t do it.

Franklin: Was Southern University an HBC?

Carter: Yes.

Franklin: Okay. And where did you grow up, your formative years? Was that in Baton Rouge?

Carter: No, central Louisiana.

Franklin: Central Louisiana.

Carter: Yeah.

Franklin: And your town, all of its facilities and everything were segregated?

Carter: That’s correct.

Franklin: Did you also—was the town itself segregated as well—

Carter: Yes.

Franklin: --from the—and so what—can you describe what some of the segregated facilities were and kind of the differences between the white facilities and the black facilities?

Carter: Well, you had, on the social side, the restaurants, it was either all-white or all-black. The churches were either all-white or all-black. There were efforts to try to bridge that gap between church members, especially when it came to civil rights. So, like I say, the black communities on one side of town generally, and the white community on the other side of the town.

Franklin: Did you—I know it was a common practice at that time for blacks to use the backdoor of a restaurant in order to take food to go. Was that the case in your—where you grow up?

Carter: Yeah, if you went to one of the white restaurants, yeah.

Franklin: You could order food, right, and give them money, you just couldn’t eat the food—

Carter: There.

Franklin: --inside the restaurant.

Carter: Yeah, right. So, normally, you would go to a black restaurant. Because there were black restaurants. Rather than go to the white restaurant and get food out the backdoor.

Franklin: Right. So when you started getting these calls from this Hanford place, kind of take us through that and kind of how you got to the Tri-Cities.

Carter: Well, they gave me a little information about the Hanford Project and the fact that they were doing some really scientific work that I thought was very interesting. I wanted to learn more about it. So—

Franklin: What did they tell you about it? What did they tell you about what they were doing, and what kind of detail did they go into?

Carter: Well, they didn’t go into a lot of details, because they were—you know, still a lot of stuff was just absolutely secret at that time. But they explained that they were part of the Manhattan Project, but they didn’t go into any details of building bombs or operating reactors or any of that kind of stuff. They just talked about the scientific work that was being done here. They thought I could be a participant in that.

Franklin: Okay. And so what happened next?

Carter: Well, I came out for my interview, and I was really impressed with the high-level scientific work that was going on in the laboratories, in the reprocessing facilities and the reactors. That was all new stuff to me. I just found it very interesting, so I was thinking, you know, I think I’d like to become a part of that. So I went back home and I was married at the time and had one child. My mother-in-law said, you know, it’d probably be a good idea for you to take that job. I think mother-in-law wanted me to be in a position to properly support her daughter. [LAUGHTER]

Franklin: Oh, right. Had you left the South before that?

Carter: No.

Franklin: No, so going to Hanford was your first time north of the Mason-Dixon Line?

Carter: Oh, no, no, that’s not true.

Franklin: Oh, okay.

Carter: I had relatives in Detroit, so we made trips to Detroit from time to time. Not often, but occasionally.

Franklin: Okay. So you eventually picked up your family and moved to Hanford. When was that, approximately?

Carter: In mid-’64.

Franklin: Mid-’64. What were your first impressions, and your family’s first impressions of the Tri-Cities?

Carter: It’s a very desolate place. A lot of open space. Not many trees. We’re used to lots of trees. Never had seen tumbleweeds rolling down the streets. We saw that. Had to water your lawn to have any grass, and that was new to us.

Franklin: Where did you first live when you came to work for the—

Carter: In Richland Village.

Franklin: In Richland Village. And what type of house did you live in?

Carter: I don’t know what—it was a two-bedroom house. They didn’t have the ABC names in those houses.

Franklin: Okay. And what were you kind of—tell me about your work, what did you first start out doing for Hanford?

Carter: I started working in the Analytical Laboratories in the 300 Area.

Franklin: Okay, and what type of work did you do?

Carter: Analytical chemistry.

Franklin: Okay. [LAUGHTER] Tell me about kind of—

Carter: And—and—

Franklin: --a day in a life of an analytical chemist.

Carter: Well, you work in a laboratory and you’re doing analytical work. Separating materials out, studying materials and—that’s the kind of stuff you’re doing in an analytical laboratory. You’re also making a determination of what kind of concentration you have of certain chemicals in a compound and so forth. That was my first assignment. I was on what they call the tech-grad rotation program. So I spent three months in the Analytical Laboratories and then I was sent out to the PUREX Plant and to spend another three months out at the PUREX Plant also in the Analytical Laboratory. Then after that, I moved back to the 300 Area, and that’s when GE decided to leave. And I went from GE to Battelle.

Franklin: And is that because Battelle took over that work—

Carter: Yes.

Franklin: --when GE left?

Carter: Yes.

Franklin: Okay, okay.

Carter: And I had a choice of staying with GE at one of the other locations, like out at the 200 Area with the PUREX Plant, or agreeing with GE to move to another city.

Franklin: Oh. And how come you chose to stay and go to Battelle?

Carter: Well, the human resources person who recruited me leaned on me very heavily to go with him over to Battelle.

Franklin: Why was that?

Carter: I suppose that he thought that I would make a good fit for Battelle in the technical area. So he didn’t want to lose a, I guess, another technical person to another location.

Franklin: Oh, okay. Tell me about the—more about the tech grad program and kind of the makeup of it. It was college grads.

Carter: Yes.

Franklin: Right. Was it—how diverse was it? Did you work with mostly white coworkers, or did you have—were there any—and was it segregated at all? Or—I’m wondering if you could talk a bit about that.

Carter: No, there was no segregation, because I was it. There were no other—all the people in the program were white.

Franklin: Okay.

Carter: There were no minority people at all.

Franklin: What was your perception by your white coworkers?

Carter: Got along fine with everybody. They treated me well.

Franklin: And what about in Richland? I’m wondering if you could talk a bit about moving from a formally segregated society to a not formally segregated society.

Carter: We didn’t have any problem. We fit in very well. We did not—my bride and I never had an issue.

Franklin: Sure. I guess I’m just wondering about how it felt, maybe, to go into spaces that, in the South, would have been whites only, but in the North would have been open to anyone regardless of race. I’m just kind of curious how that—was there something to get used to there?

Carter: Not at all.

Franklin: Not at all?

Carter: Nope.

Franklin: And you’ve lived in Richland your whole time since moving here, right?

Carter: That’s correct.

Franklin: And we know there’s a large African American community in Pasco. How large was the African American community in Richland?

Carter: Very small. I would say less than 100 maybe. There were some families that were here long before I came, like the Mitchells, the Wallaces, the Browns. So there were other families here before I came.

Franklin: Your wife, you mentioned. Did she work outside the home, or was she--?

Carter: Yes.

Franklin: Okay, and where did she work?

Carter: First job was in the Battelle Technical Library.

Franklin: Okay.

Carter: Then she went from there to the Technical Shop. Then the 300 Area. And then from there, she went to—what was it called? Hanford Environmental Health Organization, who did all the medical work out at Hanford, she went to work for them.

Franklin: Oh, the HEHF, Hanford Environmental Health Foundation.

Carter: Yes.

Franklin: And what was her background? Did she have a college education as well?

Carter: She did not finish her college degree, because we got married in college, and we promptly started a—with a child. So she dropped out of school. But she was majoring in business. So she did clerical work, you know, and that kind of thing when she worked out at Hanford.

Franklin: Oh, okay. Did you have any interaction with the African American community in Pasco?

Carter: Sure.

Franklin: I’m wondering if you could talk about that.

Carter: Oh, I initially met people in that community through the church.

Franklin: Mm. And then how—what other types of interactions did you have?

Carter: Well, over the years, I met different people. And at one point, there were some of us—the African Americans here in Richland, and the ones in Pasco—became good friends, and we would have a Pokeno party once a month.

Franklin: A keynote?

Carter: Pokeno.

Franklin: Oh, Pokeno.

Carter: So then about three or four couples from Pasco and about three or four couples from Richland would get together and go from one home to another home. We did that for a number of years.

Franklin: Okay. Did you go to church in Richland or in Pasco?

Carter: I went to church in Richland, and I attend church at Central United Protestant Church over the years. However, we would go to special events at especially the St. James Methodist Church over in east Pasco. But we also participated and attend the black Baptist churches over there.

Franklin: Okay. I’m wondering if—I know there were some—so, you know the ‘60s, kind of when you came and the few years after you came, that was kind of the growth and kind of the climax of the civil rights movement in the United States.

Carter: Mm-hmm.

Franklin: I’m wondering if you can talk about how that affected you and your family and others that you knew in the African American community.

Carter: Well, first of all, my bride and I were part of the very first largescale downtown marches during the Civil Rights period, and that was in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Franklin: Okay.

Carter: Where we were part of the first big march that went into downtown Baton Rouge. In fact, the university was shut down for two days because of the—well, I guess you could say the concern for people on both sides of the arguments there. But we finally got things settled back down. And it had to do with—one of the things that bugged the hell out of me a lot was—I have a distaste in my mouth for Walgreen drugstores now. And it goes back to when there was a Walgreen drugstore in my town that had a lunch counter. And I could not go and sit at the lunch counter and order a hamburger. And that always bothered me. [CHUCKLING] But after my bride and I came here, we went to wherever we wanted to go. We went to any restaurant or the store or whatever. We never had any issue. We never did.

Franklin: What motivated you to participate in that civil rights march in Baton Rouge?

Carter: Oh, we had a lot of—we lived—my bride and I both lived on the campus. And the dormitory councils held meetings about it, and we just said, hey, we’d jump in and participate in this thing. Because I don’t like what’s going on either. So, we don’t like this segregated lunch counters downtown where we have to go spend our money for our clothing and our shoes and so forth.

Franklin: Right. But you can’t eat lunch there.

Carter: Yeah!

Franklin: Yeah. I understand there was a little bit of civil rights activity in Pasco, as well. Did you participate in any of that?

Carter: We did not participate in any of the marches or anything like that in Pasco. We were aware of them, and there was a CORE organization here in Richland. CORE, Congress from—what was it called?

Franklin: Congress of Racial Equality, right?

Carter: Yeah, something like that, yup. We were not a part of that group, but I did join the NAACP. What we did do, Dr. Dallas Barnes and some others, we put together a corporation called the Matrix Corporation and built a facility over in east Pasco called the Matrix Building, which is still there. Our idea was to bring employment opportunities, investment opportunities and a rebuilding of the east Pasco community. Unfortunately, there were some people who didn’t like that idea who lived there, and they bombed the building a week before we was going to have the grand opening.

Franklin: Did they ever find out who bombed the building?

Carter: No.

Franklin: Do you have any idea?

Carter: Yeah, mm-hmm.

Franklin: And can you say?

Carter: No, because I can’t prove it.

Franklin: Right. Can you say which community it may have been in? Was it someone from the African American community?

Carter: Yeah, yeah.

Franklin: Oh, okay. What do you think the potential motivation to bomb—to sabotage that building?

Carter: Jealousy, hatred for Richland people. There are people who thought, for some reason or another, that we looked down on them and was going to be doing stuff that was not favorable for them, for some reason or another. But at the same time, all of the commercial facilities in east Pasco were owned by whites. And they didn’t have any problem going to that white grocery store over there and spending their money. Or having to drive all the way across town to a white-owned laundromat, when we built a very nice one there. It was one of the nicest ones in the Tri-Cities area there. So it was jealousy and just disgruntlement toward Richland people.

Franklin: Interesting.

Carter: Even Dr. Dallas Barnes lived right there in that community, and he was a part of the program.

Franklin: So it wasn’t just Richland people; it was like a collaboration between Pasco residents and Richland residents.

Carter: Yes.

Franklin: Yeah. You had mentioned Dallas Barnes before, before the interview and just now. I’m wondering if you could tell us a little bit about your relationship with Dallas Barnes and—

Carter: We met Dallas and his wife, Lozie, the first year we were here. In fact, the second week, I think, we were here, because my bride came out here alone on the train with two babies.

Franklin: Wow.

Carter: And she just fell sick after she got here. She was just exhausted. So I had to put her in Kadlec Hospital and Dallas’ wife, Lozie, stepped up to help me with the babies until I got my bride out of the hospital. That’s how we met. At that time, Dallas was working as a technician out at the 300 Area.

Franklin: Oh, okay. And is that how you knew each other, was from—you had met at work?

Carter: No, we had not met at work. We just met through—probably one of the nurses at the hospital knew about Dallas’ wife, Lozie, and said, you know, I bet she can help take care of those babies of yours.

Franklin: Oh, that’s really great. And you guys became kind of lifelong friends?

Carter: Yup, that’s right.

Franklin: And you mentioned that Dallas later went on to a career at the university, right?

Carter: Yes.

Franklin: But still continues to live in Pasco?

Carter: No, he lived up in Pullman for 20-something years, probably.

Franklin: Oh, right, right, right.

Carter: But he left Pasco and went up there and got his bachelor’s degree, and then went on and got his PhD and joined the staff up there.

Franklin: Oh, okay. Did you—when did you first purchase a home in Richland?

Carter: My first year here.

Franklin: Did you have any problems buying a house here in Richland?

Carter: No.

Franklin: Okay.

Carter: At the time, the Richland Village was a rental community. And they decided that they wanted to get out—the outfit that owned it wanted to get out of it and sell all the houses in Richland Village. Which, you know, was hundreds of houses. So the manager of the organization called me and said, Dan, we’re going to sell these houses and you can buy the house that you’re in, or you may prefer to have a larger house, like a three-bedroom, since you have a family. So, we chose to look at one of the three-bedrooms he had, and we bought that.

Franklin: What was the address of that house?

Carter: I think it was 2027 Newcomer.

Franklin: Okay. So right in central Richland, in Richland proper.

Carter: Yeah.

Franklin: Okay. Let’s see here. I’ve heard from others and by doing a little research that Kennewick was kind of an unofficially segregated town in that African Americans were not encouraged to be there after dark or were not encouraged to live there. I’m wondering if you had any experiences with—

Carter: When we moved here, as far as we knew, there was not a single black family that lived in Kennewick. However, interesting, through some of the people at work, we were invited to homes over in Kennewick for a social gathering.

Franklin: Okay.

Carter: One of the first black families to get a home in Kennewick was the Herb Jones family. Herb Jones and his wife, Rendie, Rendata. They purchased a home over in the old part of Kennewick. And as far as we know, they were the very first ones to own—black family to own a home there. I think both Herb and Rendie worked out at Hanford. And I think they were a part of the CORE organization, too.

Franklin: Okay. Do you remember about what time that was?

Carter: I’m going to guess late ‘60s?

Franklin: Okay. When you would go to Kennewick, did you feel welcome in the area? Did you ever get any kind of—

Carter: No.

Franklin: --undue harassment by the police or anything?

Carter: No, never.

Franklin: Okay.

Carter: And we went there for shopping, you know.

Franklin: Okay. How would you describe life in the community of Richland when you first moved here?

Carter: Well, like I said, we never experienced an overt negative situation at all. As far as I know, when we came here, Ed Smith and I were the only black professionals here.

Franklin: Okay.

Carter: And Ed has passed away now. Ed was an engineer, and I was a scientist. As far as I know, we were the only ones back in the mid-‘60s. I came in ’64, and I think Ed and his family came here in probably ’62, ’63, thereabouts. They were here before we were. And we became lifelong friends also. And like I say, Eddie died about five, six years ago. But we went to whatever store we wanted to go to. We were treated with respect. At church, we were well-received. At the time, my wife went to Christ the King, and I went to Central United Protestant, and over the years, she transferred over to Central United Protestant because of the music program. She wanted to get in a music program.

Franklin: Oh, okay.

Carter: Christ the King didn’t have much of a music program, so she came over there and sang in the choir at Central United Protestant for about 30 years.

Franklin: Oh, wow.

Carter: So I was never called names or anything like that. I can’t remember anything like that happening to me or to my family.

Franklin: While you were here?

Carter: Yes.

Franklin: But did that kind of thing happen in the South, when you were growing up and when you were in college?

Carter: Yeah, things like that happened, but I don’t remember it happening to me. We sort of did all of our activities, if you will, in the black community, the black churches, black restaurants, and movie theaters and so forth.

Franklin: Sure. Do you remember any particular community events in Richland that stand out to you when you moved here and the years after?

Carter: Well, I became an activist myself. I helped start the first Head Start program for Benton and Franklin Counties. I recall loading stuffed toys in my old station wagon and hauling it over to the Unitarian Church in Kennewick, where we started the program. And that, like I said, that was at the Unitarian Church in Kennewick where we started the Head Start program.

Franklin: Okay.

Carter: I became the first president of the Community Action Agency for Benton and Franklin Counties.

Franklin: What did that agency do?

Carter: It still does community services. It’s a community service organization. It does a lot of things. Housing, weatherization, and all kind of community support activities. They’re located in Pasco over there on Court Street. So they’ve been around ever since. I was the first chair of the Benton, Franklin and Walla Walla Private Industry Council. That’s an organization we set up for job training, and became a part of the—grew out of the Job Training Partnership Act. I serve on the state level in that organization, and then when they decided to set up the private Industry Council, then I had the knowledge. So the county commissioners called me in, and we met at the Franklin County courthouse for our first meeting to start this program. And the county commissioner said, Dan, you’re going to have to head this thing up to get it started. And I did, to get it started.

Franklin: Oh, wow.

Carter: In fact, I even have a plaque from President Reagan for my activities in that program.

Franklin: Really?

Carter: Yup.

Franklin: Wow. How—kind of returning to your Hanford work—

Carter: Yeah.

Franklin: Going to flip over to the Hanford side of things. It says here that you hold a US patent in one of the PUREX processes.

Carter: That’s correct.

Franklin: How did that happen?

Carter: That’s the work I was doing in the laboratory, doing research work in the laboratory, and stumbled upon something that was—I was working on PUREX work in the laboratory in the 300 Area.

Franklin: Was that for Battelle?

Carter: Yeah, that was under Battelle, right.

Franklin: Without getting too technical, I wonder if you could describe the patent.

Carter: It has to do with the suppression of hydrogen generation during the PUREX process.

Franklin: And what was the importance of that?

Carter: Well, if you get too much hydrogen in the system, you can have an explosion. [LAUGHTER]

Franklin: So, you as a private person, can hold a US patent while doing government work?

Carter: You get a patent issued under your name, but the government owns it.

Franklin: Oh, okay, okay. That’s still really, really cool. So it says here that you began working for GE, and then to Battelle and then to Westinghouse.

Carter: Mm-hm.

Franklin: How long did you work for Battelle for?

Carter: About five years.

Franklin: And was it all in the 300 Area?

Carter: Yes, all the Battelle work was in the 300 Area.

Franklin: And when you transferred to Westinghouse—well, first of all, why did you transfer, and then what did you do?

Carter: Because Battelle lost the funding for reactor programs. And at the time, I was working in nuclear fuel on development. So, if I wanted to stay in the reactor-related program where the funding was, I had to go over to Westinghouse. And Westinghouse was awarded the contract to build the FFTF, the Fast Flux Test Facility. So, I jumped to Westinghouse to become a part of the Fast Flux Test Facility design, construction and operation.

Franklin: How long did you stay working with the FFTF?

Carter: I can’t tell you exactly the number of years, but maybe ten years. I’m not sure it was that long, because I signed up to become a part of the startup crew for the reactor. So I had to go through nuclear power training for that. And a part of that was done down at Idaho Falls. So, I had to go down to Idaho Falls and work down there in the reactor business at the EBR-II reactor down there to qualify. And then when I came back, I was sent out to the 400 Area at the Site to work with Bechtel on constructing the reactor. So, one of the things that we had to know, as a part of the reactor operation program, we had to learn every system in that reactor. And as a result of that knowledge, Bechtel would lean on me when they need to find something in the plant as we were building it. So I walked the plant every day to see what was being built where, and I could work with the design people and the construction people to make sure we were building the reactor properly.

Franklin: What was the importance of the FFTF?

Carter: It was the leading edge of the Breeder Reactor program. We were going to demonstrate how you could generate more fuel than you burned and also at the same time generate electricity. It was called the Breeder Reactor Program. So, we were the first to do that, and we had the most sophisticated reactor in the world at the time. And then based on the work we were doing at Hanford and the design we came up with, a large breeder reactor was designed to be built at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. And I had to go down there, also. But when the thing with the Carter Administration came in and decided to pull the funding out of that program even though we had the design, a lot of that facility, and all these beautiful stainless steel components built and ready to go in, poured the foundation and ready to start coming up out of the ground with it, and they pulled the funding out of it.

Franklin: Ouch.

Carter: So that was essentially the deathblow to the Breeder Reactor Program, even though Westinghouse continued to build the FFTF and we got it built and got it up and operating. At the time it became operational, I was not involved because Westinghouse farmed me out all the time as a consultant to the Department of Energy, to United Nuclear, to Rockwell Hanford—I worked for almost ten years as a consultant.

Franklin: What kinds of things did you consult on?

Carter: It had to do with documentation of systems and components, like when DOE was going to build the, what was called the B-WIP program, where they were going to dig this big hole out in the 200 Area and go down into the basalt—

Franklin: The Basalt Waste Isolation Project.

Carter: Yep, yep. I was—DOE had me to come in to work with them to write up documents on design and construction for that project. So I worked with them on that. And in fact, DOE even sent me down to Puerto Rico for a trip to go down there for a while.

Franklin: Why did you go down to Puerto Rico?

Carter: Oh, they wanted me to represent them down there at a big conference.

Franklin: Must’ve been fun.

Carter: I thought it was the worst conference I’d ever been to. [LAUGHTER]

Franklin: Why is that?

Carter: So, it was terrible. I wrote it up as being very terrible. But my wife and baby enjoyed it. [LAUGHTER] They went along, too, and they had a great time out on the beach.

Franklin: Was it terrible because of the technical aspects of the conference, or was it a—

Carter: Yeah, because of that, and the people who they had as keynotes—speakers and so forth. They were just terrible.

Franklin: Okay. That’s funny.

Carter: And I let them know it.

Franklin: Okay. And when did you—you eventually retired, right, in 1996?

Carter: Yeah, ’96, I retired, because we lost our contract with DOE.

Franklin: Who did?

Carter: Westinghouse.

Franklin: Okay.

Carter: And Fluor-Daniels and their buddies were coming in, and I felt that, no, I didn’t think I was going to fit into that bunch. At the time, I was doing a lot of science education work for Westinghouse. I traveled extensively to the Washington, D.C. and the southeast, working with colleges and universities doing science education work. Served on like the College of Engineering Advisory Council at Southern University, for example.

Franklin: So you were kind of moving out of direct Hanford operations at that time with Westinghouse.

Carter: Mm-hmm.

Franklin: Westinghouse left. Okay, and what did you do after retirement?

Carter: My wife had a business going, and I decided to support her.

Franklin: Okay. And what’s that—what was the business?

Carter: She had a National Car Rental for Tri-Cities and Yakima for a while. And then she operated a post office for the West Richland community for a while, and then she went out a bought a travel agency and set up a tour company called Genie Tours that had—and she built up a fleet of almost a dozen tour buses. And it tours throughout the western part of the United States. And she also did tours back to, like, Branson, but she didn’t take her own bus.

Franklin: Okay.

Carter: She would fly them back there and she would charter over somebody’s back there where she did that. But back here, many trips to Portland, Seattle, down to California. Like when WSU played in the Rose Bowl, both times, she took one of our buses down there with people on it.

Franklin: Oh, okay. Your wife was quite entrepreneurial.

Carter: Yeah.

Franklin: All of your kids—how many children do you have?

Carter: Three.

Franklin: Three. And they all grew up in Richland and—

Carter: Yup.

Franklin: --attended Richland schools.

Carter: Hanford.

Franklin: Hanford High.

Carter: Mm-hmm.

Franklin: Did they ever talk about experiencing any kind of discrimination or segregation or anything due to the—

Carter: Nothing serious, you know. There were probably a few occasions where there may have been a name-calling or stuff like that. But, no, they did okay. And they ended up going from Hanford to WSU Pullman.

Franklin: Okay. All three?

Carter: All three, except for our youngest son decided, nah, I want to do something different. So he went into the Air Force and studied for a little while, and then he came back out and formed himself a band out of Spokane and bummed around. And finally decided, you know, it’s not doing too well. So he came back home and now he’s working out at Hanford.

Franklin: Okay, kind of continuing in the family tradition. Oh, shoot, I had a question. What was it? Oh, and then you also, at some point, joined the B Reactor Museum Association.

Carter: Correct.

Franklin: And when did you join that group?

Carter: Right when it started.

Franklin: Oh, so back in the ‘90s.

Carter: Yeah, wherever it was. I don’t remember, yeah, yeah.

Franklin: Okay, okay. Did you play any roles within the association?

Carter: No, I did not.

Franklin: Okay, just a supporter?

Carter: Yeah, I was too busy with other activities, you know. When I joined my wife with her tour company, it was all I could do to try to keep up with that operation and help her keep up with that operation.

Franklin: Oh, I bet. Running a business takes a lot of work.

Carter: Especially that particular business, because she got buses going and coming, and you have breakdowns and you have situations at the hotels for your people, you got to make sure they’re taken care of. She used to do the spring training for Mariners baseball down in Phoenix every year.

Franklin: Oh, yeah, yeah! Does she still operate the business?

Carter: No, we had to shut that down. My bride is now suffering from Alzheimer’s.

Franklin: Oh, okay. Okay.

Carter: So I’m her principal caregiver now. And she requires 24/7 care.

Franklin: Yeah, I would imagine so. I just have a couple questions left, kind of larger reflective questions. In what ways did security and secrecy at Hanford impact your work on, or daily life?

Carter: Well, I can’t say it impacted. We know that if you had a Q clearance, there’s certain information you had access to, and you couldn’t talk about it with people that didn’t have Q clearance or the need-to-know. So, I knew that, and I worked accordingly.

Franklin: Did you have a Q clearance?

Carter: Yes.

Franklin: Okay. What would you like future generations to know about working at Hanford and living in Richland during the Cold War?

Carter: That one of the most talented group of scientists and engineers anywhere in the world were right here at Hanford. And they shared their knowledge with you. I learned probably more from coworkers than I learned at the university.

Franklin: How so?

Carter: Because they knew what was going on. And they would help me understand processes and how technical things worked.

Franklin: Was there ever—did you ever have any fear or trepidation about working with nuclear materials--

Carter: No.

Franklin: --at all when you came to take the job at Hanford?

Carter: No, never.

Franklin: Did your wife at all?

Carter: No, no.

Franklin:  Okay.

Carter: In fact, when I worked at 325 Building, I was sometimes looked upon as the mad scientist. Because on occasions, I would have a little minor accident and blow up something and fumes coming out into the hallway. [CHUCKLING] And people coming, Dan, you okay, you okay? Yup, everything’s cool, everything’s cool.

Franklin: [LAUGHTER] Kind of a laissez-faire attitude to industrial hazard. Is there anything else you’d like to mention related to migration, segregation, and civil rights and how they impacted your life in the Tri-Cities?

Carter: Well, I feel that my bride and I were very fortunate in our family, because, like I say, we were treated well, we were well-respected, and we had opportunities to participate in a lot of community activities. My bride did, also, too. She was very active over at CBC, for example. The Martin Luther King monument over there, she was one of the persons who helped raised the money to build that monument over there at CBC. She served on the Foundations board for several years.

Franklin: Oh, okay.

Carter: So, yeah, we became a part of the community, and I think we made some significant contribution to our community here. And as a result, we choose to still live here.

Franklin: Yeah, I would say so. Well, Dan, thank you so much for coming and speaking with us about your life and your work at Hanford. I really appreciate it.

Carter: It’s my pleasure to share whatever knowledge I can share about the Hanford Project and the great work that’s been done out there, and the wonderful, highly technical people that worked out there. As a result, I got a chance to meet some outstanding scientists from around the world: some scientists from England that came over and we worked with them. I did some research with a scientist from Berkeley, who ended up at WSU Pullman and he tried to get me to leave Hanford and join his research team up at Pullman. But I chose not to do so. I met Bob Sanko, from Connell, who—he and his other colleague who were authors of textbooks—tried to get me to come up and join their research team up at Connell and I chose to stay here. So, as a result, my work at Hanford, I got a chance to meet a lot of outstanding scientists.

Franklin: Great. Well, thank you again, Dan.

Carter: My pleasure.

Hanford Sites

300 Area
200 Area
HEHF (Hanford Environmental Health Foundation)
FFTF (Fast Flux Test Facility)
400 Area
B-WIP (Basalt Waste Isolation Plant)
325 Building

Years in Tri-Cities Area


Years on Hanford Site



Carter, Dan.JPG


“Interview with Dan Carter,” Hanford History Project, accessed April 9, 2020,