Dee McCullough Oral History

Dublin Core


Dee McCullough Oral History


Hanford Atomic Products Operation
B Reactor National Historic Landmark (Wash.)


An oral history interview with Dee McCullough for the B Reactor Museum Association. McCullough was a Instrumentation Supervisor at the Hanford Site during the Manhattan Project.


B Reactor Museum Association


Hanford 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.





Oral History Item Type Metadata


Dee McCullough



Interviewer One: --did you hear about this place, and what’s the reason and circumstances that you came here, but--

McCullough: Oh, okay.

Interviewer One: That’s usually the start.

Interviewer Two: Yeah, what we’ll do first, we’ll just kind of go through chronologically where you were when you were recruited, perhaps, and then the story of you coming here, what you found when you got here. And we’re interested in what it looked like, how many people were here, and the visual image is, kind of how you remember. And then what your job was when you were here. And then we’ll just bring it along like that. Up through the end of the war, probably. And then maybe some more general questions about—or more specific questions about operations or things that we got some interesting information on loading sequences and things like that. Part of it is an attempt to get some of the technical information that we may not have another chance to get. We’re trying to gather—talk to as many people as possible and just kind of get whatever information we can about operations or problems that people had during startup. Just some descriptive stuff of how things—


Interviewer Two: Start by telling us your name and what your job was when you were here working in that period, and then go back and start telling us about recruitment and coming here the first time.

McCullough: Okay. My name is Dee McCullough. During that time, I was an instrument shift supervisor. I came from the Utah Ordnance Plant in Salt Lake. Came on the payroll January 1st of 1944. Arrived here in Pasco on the 3rd of January, met by people with armbands on saying DuPont. Herded us into what we called cattle cars, [LAUGHTER] and took us to Hanford, where we were registered. The signup was quite interesting there. Most people there at that time were construction workers, and there was construction workers galore here at that time. We were introduced to—

Interviewer Two: Actually, hold on.


Interviewer Two: Okay, thanks. Go ahead.

McCullough: I’m Dee McCullough. I was instrument shift supervisor at the time B Area was started up. I previously worked at Utah Ordnance Plant as an instrument technician at that time. At the time the plant closed, I was also doing work in the telephone office as troubleshooting in the exchange. Also did the patrol radio maintenance work there. At the time I was interviewed to come up here, I had a friend working with me and he said, oh, he wouldn’t go to the state of Washington. I’ve been there before, and I don’t want all the mud and rains that the area—he’d worked out on the coast. So he said he was going to go to Oak Ridge. Well, later on, when I saw him, he got the mud and water, and I got the dryland here. [LAUGHTER] But I arrived here the 3rd of January, 1944, and was taken out to the Hanford site, where we were registered, signed up. But at that time, there was construction workers galore coming and going. Some being interviewed for jobs, and some leaving. Big long lines. But I was assigned to electrical supervisor—engineering supervisor. Took us—our papers that we’d filled out, and he’d take us to the front of the line and put the paper on the top of the basket and our names were called up far in advance of the construction workers that were coming in. The early days, it was quite, oh, might say primitive here. I can remember some of the early people, which—one was George Petty, which I don’t believe we have. But he was one of the power supervisors. They had a steam engine—railroad engine there, which was powered up, and we were getting all of the steam to heat the buildings from a railroad engine that they had parked at the site by the Administration Building there. I spent about two or three weeks there at Hanford, in the barracks, which was very interesting. I roomed with an Oklahoma carpenter. He’d come in and say, boy, if the wind blows again tomorrow like this, I’m going to terminate. [LAUGHTER]

Interviewer Two: What did you see when you came here? What did it look like? Was there a lot of construction going on? Was it kind of a big mess, or was it pretty well finished at that point? I think you’re the person—so far, the earliest—the other two guys we talked to yesterday came in May of ’45, I think.

McCullough: Oh, I see.

Interviewer Two: What was it like in January of ’45?

McCullough: In January, as we came by, as the bus went through Richland, they pointed out the fact that here’s the city of Richland. And it was, oh, up around Hunt, that area, the east side of the highway, was pretty well with housing under construction. You could see some on the other side. The present Hanford House was called the transient quarters—I think by that name. It was just all torn up area—a lot of ground being plowed up and there was a few orchards you could see here or there. I don’t remember the exact locations where they were. By then another long, dry, sandy spell driving out to Hanford. And there—I don’t have too much recollection there, except the big barracks that they had. One was the Administration Building. We were taken in there and then there was quite a bit of conversation as to when the dormitories would be completed—the first dormitory in Richland—for us to be moved into. Whether we would be able to go into Richland and stay at the transient quarters for a few days and then go into the dormitory, or whether they should put us out into the big barracks. I came from Salt Lake with an old fella that worked with me in Salt Lake, James V. Thompson, who is an electrician. The two of us was sort of—well, we came up on the same train. I knew him church-wise before. We wondered—we were glad afterwards that they had decided it had been too many delays in the dormitory being completed that they were afraid that they would be overcrowded at the transient quarters, so they had us roomed out. One of the main things there that I can remember is that we ate in a big barracks, which was opened up, it would seat 2,000 people. As we would go into the barracks, we’d buy a ticket for—it was either $0.69 or $0.79. They’d just line us in, line by line, we’d go and fill tables up. By the time we filled the last table, then, people were leaving at the other end of the building, and they started to go the other way. We ate family style. All we had to do was if a plate of potatoes got empty, we’d take the plate and hold it up above our head, and somebody’d come and pick it up and bring in a new one. It went that way even with dessert—pies—we had great pleasure in eating as much dessert as we could cram down us for our $0.69 or $0.79 that we paid. That lasted for about two-and-a-half weeks, and then we were given a room in the dormitory—first dormitory that was built. It was, oh, about the area where Swift and Jadwin, I think, was located. There, we had been told to order two books from one of the publishers back east. One was the laboratory book on measurement and identifying radiation types—alpha particles—and it showed cloud chambers—how to identify alpha particles. So that was the only indication we had of what we might be going to do at that time. The other book was a chemical engineering book, which had basic instrumentation in which we were interested in. But not having a safe place to keep these, we were just told to keep them locked up in our suitcases in the dormitory, so that they wouldn’t be available to other people. We were taken out to the 300 Area, and at that time, there was Will McCue, David Merrill and myself were all in instrumentation at that time—assigned to instrumentation. They took us into the engineering office in 300 Area and introduced us and told them to make whatever drawings were available to us for the 1713 Building there, which was the instrument maintenance building at that time. Looking at the drawings that we had on that building, all we could identify was one long table that was called a thermocouple table. So there we surmised we were going to be working with thermocouples. But Dave Merrill was the tool and die man at Utah Ordnance Plant. So he was more or less given authority to direct the installation of machinery and such in the 1713 Building machine shop that they had. I was assigned first to contact the construction people and receive the first amount of instrument spare parts, which was just capacitors, condensers and transformers and such, which didn’t tie into anything in particular. I can remember one of the fellows there was Martin Bier, which I think just passed away recently. But he was the construction man who turned over the components to me. As I was starting to say, Dave Merrill and Will McCue and I were introduced to the engineering office, and we met a friend of ours that had worked in Utah Ordnance Plant and had come up here on construction—or had come up earlier anyway. And he was one of the foremen in the 305 Building—that’s the test reactor. We were able to go over there and see him, but got into just the outer area there. It must not have been in the building, because he said, well, I don’t know why you can’t go into the building. All there is is a big U-shaped piece of concrete. Which turned out later to be the three sides of the test reactor that was being built there. But all there was at that time was just the three walls. And the front wall was open. So we were able to spend time there. I was assigned to work with the nuclear the flux monitors which was at that time Beckman instruments. It was a micro-microammeter, which had been developed from a Beckman pH meter. They sent me to the Beckman factory in Los Angeles, and I spent three-and-a-half weeks there sitting beside the test engineer to watch what he was doing and learn as much as I could about these instruments and see him troubleshoot the new ones as they came off the production line. Later, we had to—of course it was my job to see that they were installed after we got back here at the plant.


Interviewer Two: Tell the story of that anecdote, you know. Okay, go ahead.

Interviewer One: It would be interesting for us to hear what you were told when they hired you in, and even here when you arrived here. Because we realize, because of security, they couldn’t tell you very much. And also it’d be interesting to know any rumors or other ways you might have been given clues on what was really happening.

McCullough: Okay. At Utah Ordnance Plant, of course in those days, with fuel rationing and all that we were on, and drivers’ pools, I drove to and from the plant and there was two secretaries that rode with me. One was the daughter of one of the chief managers. They would talk about the City of Richland. What her dad had told her about the city of Richland, how it was being built up, it was a model city, being built from scratch here. But as far as telling us what was going on here, it was very highly secretive. When were hired, it was—they didn’t say Manhattan Project, it was just the three initials—I can’t remember. HEW, or something of that sort. I don’t remember the—and that’s who we were to report to here. At that time, I worked out at the telephone office at the Utah Ordnance Plant, and my supervisor heard the plant was closing. He decided to take another job elsewhere and so the maintenance of the telephone office fell on my lap at the time. I was hoping to be able to stay there after the plant closed to be on standby or maintenance there. But we were told if we didn’t accept these other jobs, we would be sent to the Army. So I decided that I’d go to Hanford. We’d heard a lot of stories about the rough times that the construction crowds that were at Hanford and the things that went on there, that wasn’t too appealing to us going. After we came out here, again, about the only clues I had as to what I was doing was this thermocouple bench and the book I read, which talked about gamma rays and alpha particles, neutrons, and that sort. So we did know that we were going to be working with those types of items. While I was up here, my wife wrote me and said that she had talked to a man on a streetcar or a bus there in Salt Lake, and when she said that her husband was working at Hanford, he told her that if she knew what was going on there—or if he knew what was going on there, he wouldn’t stay within a thousand miles of the place. So that was about the only thing that we had. As I mentioned before, the test reactor in 300 Area, the U-shaped cement, well after our clearances came through, we were of course allowed to go in there. We watched the graphite being placed in the reactor. I had the work to see that the ion chambers were placed underneath the reactor on tunnels that went underneath the reactor for the sensors for the nuclear flux monitors. We also used similar ion chambers around the building for area monitoring for health purposes. So when we started to load fuel, there again, we were just told to produce some radiation. We watched the loading by the instruments that we had in the control room. The control room was up on more about halfway on the floor, a second floor of the building, where we could look down at pretty well the side of the reactor. The control desk was at the backside of the control room, where we were pretty well shielded from the sight of the reactor by the side of the reactor. But as the front end of the control room had a bench with a lot of what we called pigs at that time—Geiger chambers inside of big lead cylinders. Two inches of lead around the thing to keep out any outside radiation. We had to put in the counters—these Geiger counters drove. But as we started to run tests, they began to fill the—put the fuel in the reactor, then we would watch the progress by the activity that we noted. As they would pull the rods out, after they got pretty well full of fuel, then these Geiger counters would take off. We could just see the counters just beginning to click and go up, and we knew that something was passing forth from the reactor to these Geiger counters. Of course, we were back, standing—kept us back out of the road. So we knew something was generating alpha particles or gamma rays at that time, that it would come through. But after we finally got to the point where the physicists said that we had sufficient in there, I think he said the power was one-and-a-half horsepower on there or something—or about 1,000 Watts, I think was the way he put it. So it was a very low level power that we were getting out of that reactor. The purpose of it was to test the fuel and the graphite that was going out to the B Reactor. We had channels that would go through the reactor that we’d load a channel up with graphite, and as we pushed that one channel of graphite in the reactor, it expelled a channel out the other side. So then we could tell a difference between the part expelled and the new stuff that came in. So we had these graphite standards that we used to test the purity of the graphite that was eventually going out to the B Reactor. And likewise we would load a channel of fuel and watch the difference as the fuel replaced the standard fuel that was moved out the other side. So that was the main thing that we did at that time. After they decided they had sufficient fuel in the reactor, then they closed it down and allowed the construction workers to come back in and put the cement wall on the fourth wall of the reactor up. It was put up in just big cement blocks. They had the construction workers wear gasmasks and such, I think just more or less to give them the wrong idea of probably what was going on in the place. One other thing of interest at that time, these what we call pencils, these radiation monitoring—which we’d carry around in our pockets, the first batch of those we received—and we were just told to wear them, that was before there was any radiation or anything at the plant. But we wanted to determined just what the decay rate would be on those pencils just around normal operation. So I can remember wearing a pencil and not knowing too much about them other than knowing that the principle, which we could read in this laboratory book that we had received. There, again, that was the only indication that we had of just exactly what was going on. Of course after we got to the B Reactor—oh, I might say as we first took a tour, they drove us out to the B Reactor, we could see where the present F—I think it was the F—and the D Reactors were there, just stacks of piles of valves and all sorts of construction materials there that was going into the future reactors. Taken up there, we were given a tour of the plant. I can’t remember too much of the particulars of how far advanced they were, but I did see Beckman pH meters in the water treatment plant area. Of course, I was familiar with the Beckman instruments. I had to do some work on them. And was made one of the shift supervisors. That came out of a sudden—they said that the man who was supposed to be the shift supervisor was still tied up with teaching a training school on instruments. So I had a three-day excursion of the plant and told that I had highly qualified technicians in the water house and in the water plant area, that my chief responsibility would be in the reactor building. The technician that they gave me—oh, I guess one of the first technicians I had in the 105 Building was Dick Thiel. He may still be around. We were very short on electronics people, because the services had grabbed all of the electronics people that was available at that time. So we were very shorthanded. The fact that I had my previous experience had been theater sound before the war. So I had some electronic experience that way. I was called up one day from the employment people. Said that they had a man there that they were going to send out to me, thought he might be a big help to me. His qualifications was the fact that he lived next door to a ham radio operator. [LAUGHTER] That was about the type of electronics people that we were getting at the plant. But even then, we were able to get the plant going on schedule and in good time.

Interviewer Two: Go ahead.

Interviewer One: Were there any—you mentioned the pencils. Were there badges worn, too, with the film in them at that time?

McCullough: No, the badges came later. I don’t remember just when the badges came, but at first we just had the pencils.

Interviewer One: A related question, then. Were you ever told, or was there anyone measuring radiation? I guess it was you, probably. Were you told of any concern for how much you should be in these zones per week or day or any talk about time limits at that time?

McCullough: I believe there was. I don’t remember too much about when we were first told that 50 MR or 100 MR was a time. Our first indication—when I mentioned that we put the ion chambers—the neutron sensors underneath the reactor that had—the 305 Reactor in the 300 Area had quite large tunnels underneath there where we’d put these chambers underneath. And we were standing there by the instruments superintendent one day. And he says, don’t stand in front of that hole. That’s where the neutrons might come out. He said, they’re the mean little devils. [LAUGHTER] So we knew that there was neutrons and gamma rays. And of course, we knew that alpha particles were stopped by a sheet of paper or something. So there was not much worry about them unless they got into our bodies. So we did know the possible hazards there might be. But still, how much of a hazard, we weren’t too sure.

Interviewer Two: Couple of questions. One, what did—visually, what did it look like? Was it still pretty dusty and hot? Were there dirt roads? How did you get around? Things like that. Just what did it look like?

McCullough: Yeah, the city of Richland at that time, especially—I mentioned earlier I went to Los Angeles—they sent me to Los Angeles to school there. And then on my way back, I was able to go by Salt Lake and pick my wife up, and we came on back on train. All of our goods were shipped up here by car. We were taken into the transient quarters and told that, oh, we’d have to stay there overnight. That our furniture had arrived in our house that had been assigned to me, but it had not ever been arranged and it was all covered with dust. They told me at the time I asked to bring my wife up, I said, I want to bring her up with me when I came back from Los Angeles. They said that’d be a lot better to bring her back than if she had to come up when I was in Los Angeles. They said, if she got here during the dust storms, they said that she’d just turn around and go back. So we were somewhat prepared for that. One of the things that we remembered was, oh, these dust storms, there was so much construction—homes being built—that one of our youngsters, which was about three years old or two years old—by then, I guess it was the neighbors, too, if they were out in the yard sometimes we could hear them call out but we couldn’t see them because the dust was so thick. So—

Interviewer Two: Just one thing I’m interested in, not having lived through those times, what was the sense of—I mean, I think there must have been a sense of being involved in something very important and in winning the war. But overall, how would you describe the feeling of the times? Was it rather—I mean, obviously, there’s a lot of tension. You heard about friends being killed. Just if you could recreate that wartime atmosphere, and what was at stake? If you could tell me a little bit about that.

McCullough: Okay. As far as the security was concerned, my wife speaks—oh, at women’s clubs and associations, they very seldom ever talked about what their husbands were doing. And she said she had no idea what we were doing until we informed her that the bomb had been dropped. But we did know that whatever we were doing was of extreme importance for the war effort. Myself, knowing whether it would be a strong ray that would cause problems or just what—I wasn’t too sure. I did know that there was a great deal of heat generated. Our big problem was that we didn’t want to lose the cooling water to the reactor, for fear of a meltdown or something of that sort.  We used to talk about, well, the backup we had for the cooling system. We had four big tanks—storage tanks in the 190 Building that would last us for so many hours. Then there was two high tanks of water that would last us for a little bit longer. My supervisor and I, one day we were talking, we were sitting in the valve pit and we were talking about how far away we could be [LAUGHTER] before the water ran out. But the problem was that B Reactor—we loaded the reactor up to what they called dry critical. It was just starting from the center and putting fuel in more or less a circular fashion, until it got out to what was considered dry critical. Then at that point, they stopped and connected the water supplies and started water flowing through the reactor, and tested. Then we continued the testing with the water through the reactor, and continually added fuel until—


McCullough: They loaded D to dry critical and then determined their characteristics that they had at that time. Of course, we were—a lot of the physicists were all betting on how much fuel it would take to reach dry critical. But instead of putting water in, then, they continued to load the reactor. And test and make sure that we had plenty of rods to take care of us. So we were able to load D Reactor completely full of fuel without any water. So then we knew that if we lost water at B Reactor, that we would be safe. But up until that time, it was still—talking about what might happen, the dangers involved and that sort of—we came out at the D Reactor on a Sunday to test for the response of the reactor at that time. And then we picked the time when there was very few workers there. It was on a Sunday. I think there was about three or four carloads of us went on out there and deactivated the safety rods so we could pull them out. Took some critical tests. I can’t remember what the speed was, but it was power of a double in a matter of a second or two—I don’t remember just what. By that time, we had a good idea, then, what the capabilities of this could be. Then, of course, we went back and very carefully deactivated all of the possibilities of pulling the rods up and went on home.  Getting back to the B Reactor, during the startup there, after we loaded the fuel to wet critical, and then fully loaded the reactor, then tried to start up. I guess everything seemed to go along all right, but as far as increasing power until they got up to certain levels, then the power started to drop off. Nobody seemed to know at that time just what was happening. There was a lot of fear that if it dropped down to, say, zero power, we’d never be able to get it started again. At that time, they brought in all of the top physicists and such. Enrico Fermi was out here at that time. We were introduced to him as Dr. Farmer. Some of the fellows that I worked with that had come from Oak Ridge, they were quite concerned—they made quite light out of that, because they said here, we sat in lectures at Oak Ridge where Enrico Fermi lectured to us and we called him by name. But out here, he was Dr. Farmer. We all—other than just amongst ourselves, we indicated that, but I did know who I was talking to at the time. He would ask me in the control room, oh, where does this Beckman get its supply from? What was the location of this particular one? I think there was three of the Beckmans we had in the safety circuit. Of course, we were running with the rods all open and very concerned that if there should be a sudden turnaround, that we would be able—the safety circuits would shut us down all right. But here they were getting to the point where they were going off scale, downward, [INAUDIBLE]. So the next thing was to go and reposition the chambers to more advantageous spot to—I think previously, we had to leave them about half withdrawn from the risers that came up into the reactor in order to keep the instruments on scale during the early testing. But here we were losing power, getting to the point where it would get down so low that we had bare reading. And they were concerned about bypassing them while we changed the chambers. We had to do that. But the cables that we were using at that time were very sensitive to static charges. And of course these micro-microammeters were very sensitive to static charges that they would swing full scale with anybody rubbing a cable or moving a cable on the sensors. So we had to be very careful when we were in the vicinity of these signal cables. They would say, well, here, we’re going to have to bypass this chamber, or this Beckman. Do you know exactly which chamber that is to? And will you go down there and reposition that? So it was very interesting to go through that. We did reposition to the most sensitive range, but none—it turned out that I was on a weekend off—I think I was off—my shift was off for two days. During that time, the reactor turned around and started coming back. My neighbor who was an instrument supervisor, he came over to my house and said, well, the baby—a babe was born. It turned around. So I wasn’t actually out there at the time that the thing turned around. But I do remember, and I appreciate the opportunity I had of working with that Dr. Farmer. One of the other things that I remember is the physicist that he with him was a woman, Dr. Marshall. She had a two-foot slide rule that she was manipulating very fast and all. Of course in those days that was about the best calculators that we had, was these long slide rules.

Interviewer One: I think when I talked to you by phone, you mentioned a story of you being in the control room and they were waiting for the startup. The people had retreated—the managers had retreated in the office where you could see them, but not hear what they had to say. And then you had asked your manager when he came out, what was going on? Do you remember that?

McCullough: I don’t remember that.

Interviewer One: Oh. I thought that was you, positioning monitors. Maybe--

McCullough: No, that was right in the control room. Usually there was quite a number standing around, watching the response of the instruments.

Interviewer One: It might have been another instrument person that—well, the story in essence was they could see Fermi and all the other people behind the glass doors.

McCullough: Yeah, but, she would be—Dr. Marshall—was mainly in the back room.

Interviewer One: Right, and it looked like a pretty hot time in there. And then when his boss came out he asked him, well, what went on in there? And he said, oh, we were just making up a pool on the next startup.

McCullough: Oh.

Interviewer One: That was the story, but I guess it wasn’t yours.

McCullough: No, that wasn’t me. The pool on that—I didn’t know anything about it.

Interviewer One: I thought it was a neat story, because it kind of showed the confidence everybody had that—

McCullough: Yeah, there was one other physicist out here that they called Dr. Stone, and I don’t remember what his true name was, it’s just what he was.

Interviewer Two: Oh, I guess the next thing, the story of—you said earlier that you didn’t really know that it was a bomb until you heard that it was a bomb. Can you—how did you hear about it, and what connections did you make at that time?

McCullough: We were sitting around the lunch table in the instruments shop. I think it was in D Area at the time, when I received a phone call. I was told that they had dropped the bomb on Japan as a result of our work here, that I could make that announcement to the instrument technicians that were sitting around the table. That was quite a surprise. We had—oh, I can’t remember what I visualized could happen at that time, how it was. I don’t know whether—I can’t remember just what the responses were of the people, but I can remember I didn’t waste too much time to call my wife and tell her.

Interviewer One: What were the responses after—well, the second one, and then the fact that the war was over? If you have anything to say about that, that might be of interest. How was the feeling out there?

McCullough: Oh, we were all of course very proud of the fact of what hand we had in that. Even though how disastrous it was to over there, it did save a lot of our soldiers’ lives. The fact that the prospects of the nuclear age and being in at the beginning of it and what we could make of it in the future was quite interesting. I don’t know whether I have anything more.

Interviewer Two: Anything that you’d like to say about the whole experience? I mean, just in a few sentences, what was it like to be involved, and was that a significant time in your life?

McCullough: That was very significant for me, because, actually I feel like I had a great opportunity here. I’d had a great opportunity, because I came up here as an instrument technician. I’d had—oh, some years in college, but I hadn’t finished college. The fact that they were short on electronics people, they gave me great opportunities for me to advance and actually become—go into engineering work.

Interviewer Two: Were you an employee of the DuPont company?

McCullough: Yes.

Interviewer Two: Was that a good company to work for?

McCullough: Yes, at Utah Ordinance Plant, I was working for Remington Arms, which was a subsidiary of DuPont. And then I got referred to going up to Washington to work for DuPont. And we worked there ‘til—oh, ’46 or ’47 I guess, when GE took over from DuPont.

Interviewer One: One thing, I wondered if you’d had anything to say. You’ve already given the impression that in most cases, the wives knew very little. Was this any kind of a problem explaining to your spouse that you really couldn’t tell her—how did they accept that idea?

McCullough: I don’t think so. We didn’t seem to—from what I remember—have much problem with it. Because they realized that it was the war effort, and it was their part to go along with this on that.

Interviewer One: Okay. Is that why she wanted to be here, perhaps to hear it all? [LAUGHTER]

McCullough: No, when she mentioned about the—I guess the streetcars at that time, in Salt Lake—and when she was on the streetcar and this comment that one fellow made to her. Then I thought that might be good to bring out here. Some words had got around about, something great was going on here that would have a big effort on the war effort. And just how it would come about, but they figured it was a lot of danger here, if it was going to be—

Interviewer One: Did you hear that concern expressed by any employee, that it might be a dangerous place, and have any apprehension about it?

McCullough: Oh, not that I know of. I think that we all became quite aware of the fact, too, that we were concerned about enemy bombing and the fact that we had air corps—air bases all around here that we were being protected, so we knew that whatever we were doing probably had a big effort in how the outcome of the war would come. So we knew it would be some sort of a means of demolishing the enemy. And just how that would be wasn’t too—I wasn’t too sure in that; I don’t think a lot of us were. Those that came from Oak Ridge probably had a lot more insight on it than what we did.

Interviewer One: Was there any information released on the first test bomb in this country? As far as the plant was concerned?

McCullough: Not that I know of. There probably was, but I wasn’t made aware of it.

Interviewer One: Mm-hmm. Okay. That’s pretty good.

Interviewer Two: Yeah.




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B Reactor Museum Association, “Dee McCullough Oral History,” Hanford History Project, accessed September 23, 2021,