Interview with Jim Daughtry

Dublin Core


Interview with Jim Daughtry


Fast Flux Test Facility (Wash.)
Westinghouse Hanford Company
Richland (Wash.)


Jim Daughtry came to the Hanford Site to work at the Fast Flux Test Facility.


Hanford Oral History Project at Washington State University Tri-Cities


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, who can provide specific rights information for this item.






The Hanford Oral History Project operated under a sub-contract from Mission Support Alliance (MSA), who were 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.

Oral History Item Type Metadata


Robert Franklin


Jim Daughtry


Washington State University Tri-Cities


Robert Franklin: My name is Robert Franklin. I am conducting an oral history interview with Jim Daughtry on April 4, 2017. The interview is being conducted on the campus of Washington State University Tri-Cities. I will be talking with Jim about his experiences working on the Hanford Site. And for the record, Jim, can you state and spell your full name for us?

Jim Daughtry: James Daughtry, spelled D-A-U-G-H-T-R-Y. It’s often misspelled and often misspoken, but that’s what it is.

Franklin: Great, and James is J-A-M-E-S?

Daughtry: J-A-M-E-S, James.

Franklin: Okay, but you prefer to go by Jim, correct?

Daughtry: Sure, yeah.

Franklin: Well, whichever—

Daughtry: No, I go by Jim.

Franklin: Okay, good. [LAUGHTER] So, Jim, tell me how you came to the area to work for the Hanford Site.

Daughtry: Yes, I was hired in 1973 by Peter Hoffmann. Peter Hoffmann was earlier with Battelle Northwest, but at the time, he was a manager in Westinghouse. I guess it was referred to as Westinghouse Hanford Company at the time. He had a physics background and he had responsibilities related to the physics aspects of the Fast Flux Test Facility.

Franklin: Okay.

Daughtry: So, I had contacted him and expressed interest in coming here and came out for an interview. And eventually, we reached an agreement and I came in to work and he assigned me to a core engineering group, and assigned to a manager by the name of Bob Bennett, who was the manager of core physics at the time.

Franklin: Okay. And where did you come here from?

Daughtry: Where did I come here from? I had been with Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago, Illinois.

Franklin: And what were you working on there?

Daughtry: Well, interestingly enough, I was actually working on the engineering mockup experiments for the FFTF. That was the connection. I had been working on that for a couple of years, and those experiments were ramping down, and I thought, well, okay, I have that experience and it would be of value here. So that’s why I contacted Peter Hoffmann, and we went on from there.

Franklin: What interested you about the FFTF?

Daughtry: Well, of course I got interested early on, because of the experiments we were doing. We were doing experiments there that would be used to calibrate the computer codes that would later be used for all of the physics analysis for FFTF. So, the interest was there because I knew what FFTF was all about.

Franklin: And when you say computer codes, we’re talking about a much older type of computer, right? Were you using punch cards at that time?

Daughtry: Yes, indeed. Yes. Actually, it was interesting, because the Department of Energy had turned the design responsibility for the FFTF to the advanced reactors division at Westinghouse Corporation in Pittsburgh. So they had their own computer codes, which were of their advantage, anyway. I was working at Argonne National Laboratory; they had their computer codes. And out here at Hanford, they had their computer codes. They were all different. They did about the same thing; they didn’t always agree exactly the same. But we knew that the codes that were developed here would be the ones that would be used as we started up the plant and did the final calculations. And also, those needed to be calibrated with the experiments that were done at Argonne National Lab.

So you said punch cards? Yes. When I first came to work here, our offices were in the Federal Building, first floor of the Federal Building. I believe the computing center was in the basement of the Federal Building. We would prepare the calculations for the day and those would then be punched on punch cards and those then would be probably verified by someone else, and then go into the computer. I don’t remember now what the turnaround was, but I suppose if it was a large calculation, we might have to wait until the next day to get the results.

Franklin: Wow. How did you get the three different systems to match up? Or what kind of effort did it take to get those three different systems to kind of match up so this engineering mockup information and the headquarters in Pittsburgh, how’d they all talk to one another?

Daughtry: Well, there were a lot of meetings, of course, between the Advanced Reactor personnel in Pittsburgh and the personnel at Argonne National Lab, and people here at Hanford. But it wasn’t necessary for the codes to match up. They had to be close enough that they could decide on what experiments to run at what we referred to as the engineering mockup. I even brought a picture that you might see. This is what the—this was called ZPR-9. ZPR stands for Zero Power Reactor. The engineering mockup was assembled there. This would be a front face. The core of the reactor in FFTF is about three feet high, four feet in diameter. This represents the core and the shield. But, see, this was done at the engineering mockup near Chicago.

Franklin: Oh, at Argonne.

Daughtry: Yes, at Argonne. This was designed and built based on meetings between the people here at Hanford and the people at Argonne. They decided what experiments to do, and they designed it what they thought at the time that the FFTF would look like. Anyway, I just brought that to show, because you never see what the actual core of FFTF looks like, because—but this is the front face of a—

The way this works is the engineering mockup was divided into two halves, and it was movable. So that when it was pulled apart, it would never go critical. It was only when it was brought together and the control rods moved out, it would become critical. But it never operated at power. It was called Zero Power Reactor. It never reacted at power. It was just an experimental facility. It was very important to the final design of the FFTF. Because by building an assembly that replicated what FFTF was going to look like, then they could run a whole series of experiments on it to predict what we would see when we ran the FFTF.

Franklin: Okay. Backing up a little bit, what was—I guess, maybe enlarging the scope. What was the purpose of the FFTF and the breeder reactors, breeder reactor program? And how was it different from the other reactors at Hanford?

Daughtry: Well, the Fast Flux Test Facility was built to test materials and fuel that were going to be used in the Liquid Metal Fast Breeder Reactor Program. Liquid metal, meaning sodium, which would be the coolant. And by fast reactor, it means that the neutrons’ fissions would occur while they were at high energy, rather than, in light water reactors they are allowed to, what they call, thermalize, to come to lower energies where the fission cross-sections were higher and the probabilities for fission are higher. But the breeder program, you probably know, it was intended to build a reactor that could convert depleted uranium into plutonium, and so it could make fuel as it burned fuel, and therefore it could extend the usefulness of the uranium supply by orders of magnitude.

Franklin: Great. And so what kinds of—you mentioned your work at Argonne and the engineering mockup was critical to the success of the FFTF, which makes sense, right? Building this prototype would allow you to work out kinks. Were there any significant kinks or things that you figured out doing the mockup that changed the as-built of the FFTF?

Daughtry: I’m not sure I can answer that. The design of the FFTF was not completely finalized during that time, so there were some changes made to the design of our experiments there as the design work proceeded. Again, with the design, final design was given to the advanced reactors division of Westinghouse Electric Corporation. They had their offices in Pittsburgh.

But I mentioned that, not so much to highlight that aspect, but just to point out that when I came here to work, the first job that I had was to analyze the experiments that had been done in engineering mockup. And so the experiments were all done to support the final design, the planning for the startup and testing in the FFTF. So my first job there was analyzing the experiments that we had done back there. So that and then I came into an organization that was called the core physics group, and that was managed by, at that time, by Bob Bennett. The core engineering organization, which included him, and Wilbur Bunch who managed the shielding and criticality group, were all focused, pretty much, on planning for the startup. We were not involved, really, in the design of the plant. That was still under Westinghouse Electric’s responsibility.

But we worked with the Department of Energy to design what we called a reactor characterization program, which was to determine the characteristics of FFTF. That was done during the acceptance testing program. We had a fairly extensive set of physics measurements that were done shortly after the reactor went critical for the first time. So, much of our work from ’73 up until the time that the plant first went critical had to do with the preparations for that, and also preparations for refueling after the plant started into normal operation.

Franklin: Oh, okay. And what was the date that the FFTF went critical?

Daughtry: I believe it was 1980 when it went critical. As a matter of fact, I have another little thing that I can show you about that. There was an announcement that I still—I kept a copy of that. Well, anyway. This was February the 9th, 1980.

Franklin: Ah, February 9, 1980.

Daughtry: You may have seen a—this has been shown before, a number of times. It shows the—it’s a diagram that was taken off of the charts in the control room. This shows the time of day, and this shows the neutron count rates in counts per second. And what it shows that at this time, when this line became straight, this is a logarithmic scale; it shows that the power level or the flux level is increasing exponentially. And you can even pick out from this the fact that it had increased by about a factor of ten in less than a minute.

Franklin: Yeah.

Daughtry: And so at this point in time, we confirmed that the reactor was critical, February the 9th, 1980, at about 3:46 in the afternoon. And then they inserted the control rods a little bit at this point and leveled it off at a higher power. This was still essentially at very low power. It was not at full power. We were just demonstrating that we could take the plant critical.

Franklin: Oh, okay, interesting. Earlier when you said you worked in this reactor characterization program for the DOE to determine the characteristics of the reactor, the reactor design, I guess, then, was solidified, but maybe the plant design was still being worked out? Or how did this work with this reactor—

Daughtry: No. As a new reactor, there was a fairly extensive acceptance test program. You had to verify that all of the plant was working the way it was supposed to work. Part of the acceptance test program was this reactor characterization program, which was primarily a physics program. We were measuring things like the neutron spectrum, the energy spectrum of the neutrons in the reactor, reaction rates of all—of various materials. Any materials that would be used, we would want to determine the rate at which the reactions would occur. And part of that would be the fission rate, the rate at which fissions would occur, and a wide range of fissionable material that was actually in the reactor fuel, but it could be in experiments that would be in the reactor fuel. So we would measure the gamma ray distribution, and the heating from gamma rays. This was done throughout—I mentioned to you that the size of the actual fueled region was only about three feet high and four feet in diameter. This was surrounded by a stainless steel reflector, they referred to it, and the fuel pins would have stainless steel above and below the fuel part.

Franklin: And this was in the sample, or this was in the final reactor?

Daughtry: This was in the actual reactor itself. And we had sample—special characterizer assemblies, that we’d call them, that were made that we could put the test pieces into, in order to make the measurements.

Franklin: So then this is a much smaller reactor core than the plutonium production reactors.

Daughtry: Yeah. It was—

Franklin: Because B is massive. It’s a massive face.

Daughtry: Yeah, this was operated at a thermal power of just 400 megawatts, whereas a full scale reactor might operate at 2,000 megawatts power, and then they would be generating electricity from that. So this was just a small version. But the fuel assemblies were similar in size to ones you would put into a full-scale reactor.

Franklin: Okay.

Daughtry: By “an assembly,” an assembly is a collection of pins that are held together and then put into the reactor core in one long, it’s referred to as a fuel assembly.

Franklin: And then that was irradiated inside the core.

Daughtry: Yes.

Franklin: And then pulled out.

Daughtry: Yes, now—yes. This particular, the Fast Flux Test Facility, was designed to test fuels and materials that would be used later on in the breeder reactor program. So it was intended not to have long operating power production cycles, but to have cycles that you could put a test in and run it for a period of time and then take it out and examine it. So there was a whole different organization from the operation organization that did that. Westinghouse Hanford Company had a fairly extensive program to do research on reactor fuel, reactor—oh, various types of stainless steel, materials that would be in there, and just see how they performed in the environment that you’d anticipate in a breeder reactor.

Franklin: So this, then, was pretty kind of cutting-edge research for this program, but also very different from a lot of the other activity going on at Hanford.

Daughtry: Well, yes, it was entirely different from the weapons program. So the FFTF was unique in that respect. I and many others never worked in the weapons program at all. We were all here because of our interest in the possibility of a breeder reactor program in our country.

Franklin: Hmm. And so how—could you tell me a little more about the breeder reactor program? Is it still running, how long did it run for, what’s the status of that?

Daughtry: Well, it was in full swing when FFTF was—when the decision was made to have that. There was great anticipations that we could build reactors that would breed fuel. And so the Department of Energy had some degree of enthusiasm. So they wanted to have a robust testing program. FFTF was the center of that testing program. There was other work, of course, going on at other national labs. At Argonne National Lab, in particular. But the Department of Energy, with obviously some probably politics involved, decided to build the FFTF here at Hanford. So it became an important step in the overall breeder program.

Unfortunately, by the time the reactor started up and was ready to go into operation, the breeder program was not as enthusiastically supported by the administrations, for various concerns. They were concerned about nuclear proliferation and other issues. And eventually, I believe it was under the Carter administration, decided that they wanted to terminate the breeder program altogether. So by the time FFTF had been successfully demonstrated that it went critical, went to full power, that it could operate, and do what it was intended to do, its reason for being disappeared.

Franklin: Ah.

Daughtry: So there was quite a bit of effort, following that, to determine if there were other ways to use FFTF. To generate medical isotopes to support other missions and so a great deal of effort, after the breeder program was—well, there was a lot of hope that the breeder program could be resurrected. But they had to find some reason to continue to operate FFTF without the breeder program that it was intended to support.

Franklin: Right. So its entire reason for being was gone before it was—really, before it started.

Daughtry: Well, I’m not sure about the exact date now, when the breeder program was terminated, but certainly, it wasn’t long after the reactor started up and went into operation and began its design testing programs that the Department of Energy was looking for ways to cut back on the cost. So immediately, shortly after the initial power ascent, they tried to cut back on the staff out there, and our group, which was under Bob Bennett at the time, was split up into two parts.

One part stayed out at the plant to help, actually, it was necessary for fuel management, to determine, to plan the fuel loading for each cycle. And then the other group went back into what would be the Hanford Engineering Organization to be involved in other activities. However, it wasn’t long before we were asked again to do analyses for FFTF to support alternative missions, to estimate how much tritium we could produce, how much plutonium-238, how much of other materials, how much medical isotopes. So there was a lot of work of that nature that was done after the plant had gotten into full power.

I might mention, I did—you know, achieving criticality was a major step, and it was something that everybody who had been involved in it wanted to be here when it happened. I brought this picture because it says—this was just a picture of the plant. But all around it is the signatures of everybody who was present at the time when it actually did go critical. At that time, the president of Westinghouse Hanford Company was John Yasinsky, and you’ll find his signature is up near the top there. And the project manager was John Nolan, who later became president of Westinghouse Hanford.

Franklin: Yep, I see his signature. And I see Bob Bennett.

Daughtry: There.

Franklin: Yeah.

Daughtry: So anyway, all of those people were here. Which reminds me that the day before this occurred, the project organization wanted to make sure that indeed the plant went critical, because all of these people were going to be here. So they’d have been very embarrassed if we’d pulled out the control rods and the plant wasn’t critical.

Franklin: Right, right.

Daughtry: So I remember the day before, we had a meeting. And my group was responsible for projecting criticality. And as we met there with the operations organization, I remember—I don’t remember who all was there at the time—but I remember the question came up, they said, well, we have, I think, 58 assemblies in the core now; should we proceed with withdrawal of the control rods? And I remember saying, no, we need to add one more assembly. So we added, I think it was the 59th assembly.

And then the next day, they pulled out the control rods, and sure enough, the reactor went critical, and of course, everybody was there and everybody applauded and I believe they may have passed around a bottle of champagne. I don’t know; I didn’t get any. But anyway, it was a big deal, because it had been started back in the mid-‘60s, and this was 1980. So you see a lot of time, a lot of effort had gone into it and of course the cost estimates had gone up and all of that.

Franklin: And you yourself had at this point—you weren’t there from the beginning-beginning, but you had been working on this thing for seven-plus years.

Daughtry: Since 1973, yes. And actually a little before that, since I was working on the critical experiments before I came here.

Franklin: Right.

Daughtry: So, yeah, I spent almost all of my career after graduate school working on the FFTF.

Franklin: Wow.

Daughtry: And how long did the FFTF run its various research missions?

Daughtry: I don’t remember the exact dates. But it ran through several operating cycles in which many tests were irradiated. I cannot tell you when it was—when the decision was made to shut it down and not operate anymore. It would’ve been in the—I think it would’ve been in the mid-to-late-1980s. I don’t remember the exact date.

Franklin: Okay, yeah. You had mentioned other ways—other alternate missions for the FFTF, other ways to use the reactor. Were some more successful than others?

Daughtry: Well, none were completely successful. I’m sure what the Department of Energy would be looking at would be, it takes so much money to actually operate the reactor. You have all the operating crews, you have the security, you have safety organizations, quality assurance organizations. So you have a large number of people and you could squeeze it down only so far and still operate safely. So that cost a designated amount of money. So what the Department of Energy would look at is, how can I get a return comparable to the cost from some other mission? So they looked at a lot of different possibilities. But none of them came up to the point where they said that either this or any combination of these missions put together did they feel would justify the cost of continuing operation. I was not in that aspect of it. But that’s just my take on it, that it came down to dollars and cents.

Franklin: As many things do. Especially in the world of the federal government. So then it really was designed, then, for its original mission.

Daughtry: Oh, sure.

Franklin: Which it never really fulfilled.

Daughtry: And it was not intended to run forever anyway. But it was intended to operate for a long time, because they anticipated a continued testing program that—and to follow up to this was to be the Clinch River reactor in Tennessee. That’s when that was canceled and then the breeder program was canceled. As successful as FFTF was, it still didn’t have, any longer, reason for being.

The experience was really great. The personnel that operated the plant were extremely capable, extremely—they set an amazing record. And I felt that the people I worked with here were just top-notch. I was pleased. I’ve heard many people in the management realm complain about not being able to get good workers, skilled workers. That was never my experience. The people that worked in my organization were just exceptional. And that was true of most of the people involved in the FFTF program.

Franklin: Great. Did the FFTF influence any other reactors, either in the United States or worldwide?

Daughtry: Well I think, Japan had their own test reactor, and I believe they—well, I know that they had some experiments in the FFTF, and were interested in the results of those experiments. They had continued on, and their breeder reactor program was not terminated at the same time ours was. It eventually was, but theirs had extended on quite a few years beyond our program.

And I’m thinking that some of us who were involved in the startup and testing at FFTF went over to Germany to talk to people there who were planning to start up a similar test reactor to the FFTF. Unfortunately, they didn’t ever start up. They got very close. They brought the fuel in, they built the entire reactor, and they brought the fuel in. But I think the state, one of the organizations there, never gave the approval to operate it. And so it was never done, never operated in Germany.

So there was interest around the world. Russia went further than we did in liquid metal—the breeder programs. And I’m not abreast of what they have operating now, but they did build probably the equivalent of our Clinch River plant and then maybe even beyond that.

Franklin: Mm. What did you think of Richland when you arrived here in the early ‘70s?

Daughtry: Okay. Well, I had grown up and spent most of my early years and education and all in the eastern part of the US. So when I came out here, my family and I arrived by car, I believe July the 1st. And we didn’t have a home, so we had to look for a home. But the temperature that day was over 100. We were fortunate they let us stay in the Hanford House while we were waiting. We did finally, after the first week, found a home, which we purchased, but couldn’t move into until the end of July. So we stayed at the Hanford House for almost 30 days. And outside of the Hanford House, I believe the bank had a sign out there that would have the temperature on it. Of the first 30 days, 15 of them were over 100. So that was our introduction to Richland and to Hanford, and to the Tri-Cities. It was quite a change, quite a change from what we were used to. But it’s all behind us now and after 1973 to now, that must be something like 44 years? We thought this is a, really an easy place to live.

Franklin: And did you purchase a house in Richland?

Daughtry: We did. We purchased a house in Richland.

Franklin: So you lived in Richland.

Daughtry: We did for 20 years, and we then later built a home out in Benton County where we live now. So we lived in Richland in 20 years, and we’ve lived where we are living now for 24 years. So we have, I guess, about 44 years in the Tri-Cities.

Franklin: Sure. How has Richland changed from when you moved here in the ‘70s to now?

Daughtry: Oh, well, not just Richland, but I believe at the time, I’m pretty sure Richland was larger than Pasco, and Pasco has grown. West Richland was almost nothing, but now West Richland has boomed. The Tri-Cities as a whole have changed more than Richland itself. The whole area has just—has thrived over the years. But it’s still a comfortable place to live.

Franklin: Sure. Were there any—considering you had worked for different national labs in the field of nuclear technologies since getting your degree, was there any—you kind of were, maybe more indirectly, I guess you could say, involved in the Cold War, or directly involved in technologies that played a vital role in the Cold War. Did you feel connected to that conflict at all in any way, or did you feel any anxiety about living next to a place of weapons production during the Cold War?

Daughtry: No, I did not. I was aware of what was going on, and I was aware of what happened at Chernobyl. I was aware of what was happening here at Hanford as far as weapons production. But I was focused on our mission, and that consumed my time and I was never uneasy about living where I was living. But, no, I never ended up working in the weapons program at all. After FFTF was shut down, I spent a short period of time involved in some of the calculations, criticality-related calculations, for the cleanup effort. But that was a small part of my career; most of it was with the FFTF over those years.

Franklin: Speaking of Chernobyl, how did—I’m wondering if you could give me your impression on how that incident kind of reverberated in this community?

Daughtry: Well, I think one of the first concerns that people worried about around the country was the N Reactor was a graphite-moderated reactor and Chernobyl was, too. So people wanted to compare it. But there was significant differences. And again, I wasn’t involved in that, so I could not tell you what exactly the differences were. But people argued that, no, no, no, the N Reactor was not like Chernobyl. But other people around the country were not so convinced. And ultimately, of course, that was shut down as well. But we hated to see Chernobyl happen because any major accident anywhere in the world affects everybody else in the industry. So we hated to see an accident anywhere. That was, unfortunately, a very serious one.

Franklin: Yeah. Probably the worst manmade nuclear accident—Fukushima is the result of a tidal wave, and so, nature—

Daughtry: Yeah, tsunami and a tidal wave.

Franklin: Nature played more of a role there. So, okay. Thank you. When did you retire from Hanford?

Daughtry: As I recall, it was December of 1994. So I had that—I’d worked for Westinghouse about 21 years. I think, if I recall, it was the next fall that Westinghouse, essentially left and Fluor took over operation here at Hanford. So all of my time here at Hanford was with Westinghouse.

Franklin: What drove your decision to retire?

Daughtry: Well, I don’t know. It was a bad—it was not as healthy a time. It seems like there was so much effort to reduce cost. And the cleanup program had not, seems like, gotten the support that it got later on. And the FFTF had been shut down. There were other things that we could do and other things that we did do, but—I think because of the Department of Energy were putting pressure on Westinghouse to cut back staff, they offered early retirement incentives. I looked at the opportunities and what there was left of interesting work to be done, and I just decided to take the early retirement opportunity.

Franklin: What I’m getting is kind of a picture of a kind of a rudderless era, maybe, in some ways, compared to the production period.

Daughtry: Well, yes. That was really a time of great enthusiasm when we had this mission and we had a goal. So many times, you’ll see government projects start and go a while and then stop and never be completed. For example, there was the superconducting supercollider. It was to be built in Texas. And it was funded and it was approved. But then eventually, probably due to financial issues again, it was terminated.

So you see so many projects that start and don’t make it, but we saw it. We didn’t see the breeder program, but we saw a reactor whose concepts were first developed in the mid-‘60s. They went all the way to completion. The reactor was built, it was operated successfully, and to see something really successful is really a good part of a career to see that sort of thing happen.

After that, of course there was other work, and there was the cleanup program. But I never saw anything here that engendered the same level of enthusiasm that the FFTF did. Perhaps there were that I was just not aware of. But I was happy that I had the opportunity to work there when I did.

Franklin: Right. What did your wife do while you worked out at the FFTF?

Daughtry: My wife has a degree in physics as well.

Franklin: Oh!

Daughtry: An undergraduate degree. But she came here, and we had, at that time, two children. So her goal was to make sure those children were raised properly. As time went on, she became quite interested in gardening and decided, as the children got older, that she’d join the Master Gardener program here in the Tri-Cities. So she actually worked with that for, I believe, over 35 years, she was involved in the Master Gardener program. She assisted the program director, Marianne Ophart. So that was a great fulfilment for her. She found a real place where she felt like she could contribute, and she did.

Franklin: Oh, wow. Great. What would you like future generations to know about working at Hanford during the Cold War?

Daughtry: Well, that then goes back mostly to the work that went on here that I was not involved in. I think you need somebody else to answer that question. The Cold War competition between the Soviet Union and the United States led to a series of burst of activity here at Hanford. They felt like that they needed to make more weapons periodically. So Hanford did its share. And of course we’re paying much of the price for that now, because we have the remnants to be cleaned up. That’s taking much longer than anyone might have anticipated. But at the time they were producing plutonium here, that wasn’t the major concern. A major concern was that there was a competition between the Soviet Union and the US. But that’s a whole different area, and that’s not my—that was not my involvement, where I was involved.

Franklin: Sure. Let me rephrase that question, maybe tailor it better to you. What would you like future generations to know about working on the FFTF and the breeder reactor program?

Daughtry: Well, I think future generations should remember that there is a concept that has been proven, that we could generate electricity, and we could—we do have, in the form of uranium, a fuel that could last for a long, long time. It doesn’t produce greenhouse gases. So it’s there, and it hasn’t gone away. The fact that we’re not following right now doesn’t mean that it won’t be followed sometime in the future. But I believe that FFTF served its purpose then. It might have accomplished a great deal more than it actually did. But the breeder program is something that was not just a pie-in-the-sky; it was real. And it’s still a possibility, and perhaps we’ll have to just see what the future holds. Whether that will ever resurrect itself remains to be seen.

Franklin: Great. Is there anything that we haven’t discussed that you’d like to talk about today?

Daughtry: Not that I—I think we’ve sort of covered the issues, covered the things. I just hope, you know, what I’ve been able to pass on to you is somehow helpful.

Franklin: I think it is. Thank you very much, Jim, I really appreciate it.

Daughtry: Yeah, appreciate it.

Franklin: Your photos, would we be able to make digital copies of those and place them with your interview?

Daughtry: Sure. They’re easily—I think they would be available.

Franklin: Great. So if you don’t mind, what I’ll do is I’ll take those with me and I’ll make digital copies, and when we process your interview in a couple weeks and make a DVD out of it, we’ll slip these in the mail along with the DVD.

Daughtry: I think those are the ones that I mentioned to you.

Franklin: Okay, great. Is there any others that you think are of historical significance that you’d like to have with your interview?

Daughtry: This is the first ascent to full power.

Franklin: Oh, okay.

Daughtry: And it went up step by step. There was also—I don’t know, does that show there was a bunch of signatures around there as well?

Franklin: Yeah.

Daughtry: So it’s a similar thing, that people wanted to be there the first time the reactor got up to its designed operating power, full power. And by that time, it could be that John Nolan may have been taken over as president of Westinghouse Hanford. I’m not sure of the exact time. But it’s a similar sort of thing. Achieving criticality was one major step, but another major step was when the reactor actually reached full power for the first time.

Franklin: Great. Wow. This is great. Thank you so much, Jim. Put these in my folder here, and I’ll put these in a nice protective envelope when we mail them back to you—

Daughtry: Okay.

Franklin: So they don’t get all beat up. Well, thank you so much. I really appreciate—



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Hanford Oral History Project at Washington State University Tri-Cities, “Interview with Jim Daughtry,” Hanford History Project, accessed September 23, 2021,