Interview with Samuel Moore

Dublin Core


Interview with Samuel Moore


Richland (Wash.)
Kennewick (Wash.)
Hanford (Wash.)
Hanford Site (Wash.)
Nuclear weapons plants--Health aspects--Washington (State)--Hanford Site Region


An interview with Samuel Moore conducted as part of the Hanford Oral History Project. The Hanford Oral History Project was sponsored by the Mission Support Alliance and the United States Department of Energy.


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.



Date Modified

2016-06-16: Metadata v1 created – [J.G.]


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 this US Department of Energy collection.

Oral History Item Type Metadata


Robert Bauman


Samuel Moore


Washington State University - Tri-Cities


Northwest Public Television | Moore_Samuel 

Robert Bauman: My name is Robert Bauman, and I am conducting an oral history interview with Samuel Moore, correct? 

Samuel Moore: Right, Samuel-- 

Bauman: This date is July 9, 2013. And the interview is being conducted on the campus of Washington State University, Tri-Cities. And I'll be talking with Mr. Moore about his experiences working at Hanford site, living in Richland and so forth. So maybe let's start actually from the beginning, if you want, could you tell me how and why you came to Hanford, how you heard about it, how you got here? 

Moore: Okay, I'm going to tell you how I got here. My father was working at a cook in the mental section of Camp Chaffee, Arkansas. And he came home, and he says, there's a better job at Hanford, Washington. So he left and came out. Then he told them that I can't be here without my family. So they put us on, I think it was a troop train, and it stopped in Pasco and set us off. 

Bauman: Could you--where is Camp Chaffee, Arkansas? 

MooreIt's east of Ft. Smith and that, so. 

Bauman: And how old were you at the time? 

Moore: About eight. And then we come in--put us off of this I'll call it a troop train, because there was a zillion soldiers on it. And it picks up and they took us to Kennewick to a place called Naval Housing. And that's where they put the people coming in for Hanford workers to stay until a house was available. And we stayed there, and then from there we moved to this nice little square building which had a flat top, set up on stilts. And it was called a prefab at 1300 Totten Street. And that means that we lived at the end house. The telephones were on the telephone poles at the end of the block. So when the phone would ring you were told to answer the phone and go get whoever it wanted who. So that's the way we started in Richland. And we lived there for I don't know how long. And then we moved to different houses around Richland until I graduated from Columbia High School, which was Columbia High School in Richland at that time. Now it's Richland High. And then after that I did a short job with a construction company. And then I went to work for General Electric, running one of their blueprint machines when they were getting ready to build the REDOX Building and the PUREX Building. So I'd go, I was the first one in to warm up the machines and run them for a while. And then after while I got uplined and I could deliver those suckers out into the area. So that was my starting with General Electric then. 

Bauman: Okay, so let me go back a little bit. So what year did your family arrive then? 

Moore19--it was either 1943 or '44. 

Bauman: Okay. And your father, was he a cook here also? 

MooreNo, no. He'd come out and he was a, as we call them today, rent-a-cop. He was a patrolman out there. And he worked as a patrolman ‘til he retired. 

BaumanAnd you said that your first job was with General Electric, and what year would that have been? 

MooreAbout 1953 or 4. Then I went from there, like I say I was in the blueprint sections and all that. And then I had a job—I got a chance to become an engineer's assistant. And then when they were going out and building different things, so that helped me get into the other sections of General Electric and so on. And when that one cut, I transferred into radiation monitoring. And that was when they had the Hanford labs, and the old animal farm was at 100 F Area. So I worked in that group until--I forget what year it was. I'm not good on years and dates. But when they decided they were going to re-tube all of those reactors out there in the hundred areas and so they could put bigger slugs in them and all that stuff, I worked on that until about 1957. And they said, guess what? We're not going to pay you anymore. So I left here. But I stayed with the government job. I went to the Nevada test site and blew all the plutonium up that they made out here. So then I came back to Hanford in 1960. So then I was still in radiation monitoring and worked all kinds of different places, tank farms and everywhere else out there that I could think about. 

BaumanSo it sounds like you worked all over the Hanford site. 

MooreAll over the Hanford site, that's right, yes, everywhere. And I worked a lot of the times at the burial grounds in 200 West Area. When they would take the big wooden boxes to PUREX and REDOX and they'd fill them. And then they'd pull them up, and they'd put a big long cable on the whole string of cars, and that box was way down that string of cars. And then when they get up to the burial ground, the train and it would coordinate, and they'd pull it back. And as the cable would come around, and when the box got to the trench, the train would stop. And they'd just spin it around and down in a trench. And then we get the honor of riding the bulldozers to set those freights so they could cover them up. That was one of the deals. And the other times I worked in a lot of the tank farms and pulling pumps and putting new bearings in those pumps and all that kind of stuff. It was an experience, believe me. 

BaumanYeah, I'm sure it was. So a lot of this was with radiation monitoring? 

Moore: It was radiation monitoring. And I was in radiation monitoring until 1980-something. And I had a little problem out there, and they wanted me to release some stuff. And I said, uh-uh, not me, it ain't mine. So they said, well we've got this other section over here that you should be in, so I got into the safety part with respiratory protection. And I was trained to repair the breathing air things, like the firemen use. I was trained to do that, fix the PAPRs, and the escape packs, and all that stuff so. And check over places for where they—oxygen levels to where they could go in and work and all that, so that was my last eight years of Hanford, was in the respiratory section I'll call it. 

BaumanAnd so when did you retire then? 

MooreIn 1994. 

BaumanSo almost 40 years minus the years that you were with-- 

MooreYeah, yeah. Well as the way I said, when I came back to Hanford in 1960, they told me it was a temporary job, it would probably only last six, eight months. Well, I found out that at Hanford a temporary job is pretty permanent. It only lasted 33 and 1/2 years. It's a temporary job there, so I guess at all turned out pretty good. 

Bauman: I guess you could consider that temporary. 

MooreTemporary, yeah. Yeah. 

BaumanSo many interesting things that you've worked on. So let's go back to the early years. First, in the 1950s and you talked about radiation monitoring, something with radiation, you did blueprint and stuff, but then radiation monitoring? 

MooreAnd then radiation monitoring, yeah. 

Bauman: Okay, and some of that was with animals? Is that right? 

MooreWell, I went into the animal farm on some certain times, but I wasn't assigned there for anything. The big one I was assigned to was what they called the 558 project, which is when they re-tubed all of the old reactors. And that was, you'd go in and set dose rates for all the people when they're working. And so it was a deal.  

BaumanAnd now Hanford, of course, is a highly secure site, right, lots of security, secrecy to a certain extent. Can you talk about that at all? I mean, in terms of getting to work or at work, how did that impact you? 

MooreMost of the places where I was, the secure part of it wasn't that strict. But other places like, some of those buildings, yeah, they were really a strict situation. And when I go back a ways, when my dad and we lived in this—I call it the slum house on Totten Street--nobody knew what was happening. Nobody knew. I didn't know what the guy next door was doing, and they didn't know what my dad did. Until I think it was 1944 or '45 when they announced what they were really doing here. And it was kind of a shock, that deal, so. That was my deals of the secrecy out there. 

BaumanNow, did you have to have special security clearance? 

MooreYes, yes, I did. I had special clearances, yes. I had everything but the very top secret one. And that was real handy because when I left here, I went to the Nevada test site. I had to use the same secret pass. And then the same thing when I come back. It was very, very--what am I trying to say here? I mean, I'm an old guy. I'm just about at the end of the road here. Most of my work, like I say, was the tank farms, and those places, where secrecy was not involved in that. And it was like times when you'd have a spill, you dig it up and prepare it to the burial ground. A lot of that was the work that we did. 

BaumanAnd you said your first job was at General Electric. Obviously, there are different contractors. 


BaumanNow, who all did you work for over the years? 

MooreWell, we went to General Electric. Then it went to there was one called Isochem, Rockwell, oh there's a whole slug of them, I can't remember all of them. So it seemed like every time you'd turn around, they were turned over to somebody new. But it was Westinghouse when I decided I would better leave before I had a real problem. 

BaumanSo can you talk about what was happening there toward the end that made you want to leave? 

MooreWell, I was, like I say, I was working on the PAPRs and all that kind of stuff. It got to be a real drag, you know. And everybody was doing that then. It got to the point where every time you turned around, everybody was wanting this, and wanting this, and wanting this. You're only one person. And I was a guy that did most all the fixing. So I decided--to my wife, I said--I call her the voice from the other side. She said, what's the matter? And I says, well, before I mess up on one of these pieces of equipment and kill somebody, I think I better retire. So we just decided, okayAnd she worked for the Hanford Project, too. And of course she was much better off than I was. She worked for one of the big managers as a secretary. So we just decided that was it. And we had our nest eggs saved up and said, okay, it's retired and we're going to see the world. And we did that until my one eye decides to go bad. Then we had to stop. Other than that, I'd probably been in who knows where. 

Bauman: While you were working at Hanford were there any significant events, or sort of, things that have happened that sort of stand out in your mind specifically? 

Moore: Yeah, and I was trying to think. It was about 1962, graveyard shift, 233-S, it caught on fire and it burned. And it was a big mess. That's where I wound up with my shot of plutonium in my bones, as I'll say, from that fire. And, of course, back in those days you didn't know what was what, so they worked on it and cleaned it up. And but there's a couple of contamination things that sticks out in my mind. One of them is, we used to bury the material from 300 Area which is, I guess you would call a Westinghouse, Battelle or somebody. And we used to dump them into caissons in the backside of the 234-5 Area. And we had one of those that kind of broke open and messed us up a little bit. Took us maybe six, eight, hours to get cleaned up so we were able to go on our merry way. But those are the only two that really stick out in my mind. 

BaumanDid you miss any amount of work as a result the exposures when you had those? 

MooreNope. Nope. They just cleaned you up and said go back to work. You all have to remember that back in those days, all of the things that happened in a lot of places, we didn't know. We didn't know what the repercussions was going to be. We didn't know that. Now, this is why we're paying for a lot of stuff right now is because we didn't know how to do all that stuff. But like I say, there's a lot more people that know a lot more about that Hanford stuff than I do. Like I said, it's been many a year since I worked some of those places, too, that I can't remember some of the stuff. 

BaumanSure, sure. The radiation monitoring group, how large of a group was that? And how many employees do you know, have an idea who worked-- 

MooreThere was probably about 60 or better. But each company, I think, had a group of their own. The 200 Areas had one big group. The 100 Areas had a group. And then 300 Area had a group, so you put them all together there was probably more than 60-some. 

Bauman: Okay, and just to—you said there was a fire in, you think about, 1962. Was it the 200 Area? 

Moore: Yep, in the 200, down behind the REDOX Building. That just, poof, was it and it went, so. And I think the reason they had the fire was because somebody had some greasy coveralls and stuff and didn't take care of them the proper way, and the first thing you know, poof, they were on fire. 

BaumanAnd this was where there was radioactive material? 

MooreYeah, it was back in the radioactive area, so everything got messed up. 

BaumanAnd at the time you probably didn't know necessarily everything, but you've had some health problems since then? 

MooreOh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Yeah, but I won't say that my health problem is caused by the contamination that I had or was dumped with. I've had quite a few of those. I've had a melanoma cancer in this ear, and I had a very large contamination that got in that ear and area. So I've had to have some surgery done there, skin grafts and that kind of stuff. But so far it hasn't slowed me up. 

BaumanI'm going to shift gears a little bit here. Were you working here in 1963 then when President Kennedy came to? 

MooreYeah, yeah. 

BaumanAnd do you remember at all? Were you there that day? 

MooreNo. Well, I was on a project that day, but I was not out where he was. I was one of the, I guess how would I say this, the lower steel, so I took care of the work over while everybody went to that. But yeah, I was here. I came back from Nevada on September 13, 1960, and I worked till '94. 

BaumanAnd then I wanted to ask you a little about Richland. So other than when you first got here, it sounds like you lived in Richland most of the time? 


BaumanHow would you describe Richland as a community at the time, as a place to live? 

MooreIt was very good because at that time, when you were there, you didn't even have to worry about locking doors. I mean, everybody was—it just one big thing. It was a government town and everything would deal like that. And nobody really diddidn't have the vandalism or anything like that around town. And as you probably know that, if you're familiar with Fred Meyer’s on Wellsian Way down there, that was a swamp deal, because that was where Richland got their drinking water. Like I said, I lived in 1303 Totten the very first time and then we moved from there down to on Benham Street. And I don't know how to say this, other than the way I normally say that, but that was down where we called the turd churn. That was the sewage plant down there. Then from there I moved back up to Swift. And then in--I was trying to think when it was, 1963 or so, they did away with the old irrigation ditch that came through Richland and goes underneath Carmichael, because that's where they flooded the cattail place down there for the drinking water in Richland, and let it seep down and pump it up. And they busted everything up and back about then I was reading the Villager, I think it was, the Tri-City paper, and there was a lot for sale on Totten Street. So I bought it and went out and looked at it. It was the old irrigation ditch. And I built a house over the old irrigation ditch, and I still live there. 

Bauman: And you—when you first arrived you were a child. 


BaumanWhat was it like going to school? I'm assuming that there were people from sort of all over, right? 

MooreAll over. Yeah. And you just walk to school. And it was, like I say, there was no buses or anything, you could walk to school. And everybody just seemed to fit right in, you know. Nobody had any qualms whether I was from Arkansas or anywhere else. But like I say when the first house there in Richland, Wright Avenue was the last street in town. And beyond that was one of the most fabulous cherry orchards that there was. And when you were a kid you'd slip over in the cherry orchard and get cherries and take them home to your mother. And she could make you some jams, jellies, or whatever pie, or whatever. But it was a deal. There was quite a group of kids that came from all over the country. And they just seemed to fit in, none of this gang thing or anything like that. They were just, everybody was all buddy-buddy, you know? 

BaumanYou mentioned you went to, what was then Columbia High School. 


BaumanHow about elementary and middle school? 

MooreAnd in elementary school when we moved the one that I really remember was Lewis and Clark down on the south end of town. And I went there until one of the, I'll call them students decided to burn it down. And they burnt Lewis and Clark down. And so a lot of us were told to go up to Marcus Whitman and finish off the year up there. So we did that. And then them from there on Carmichael, the junior high, was being built and I think they opened it up at about a mid-year. And I was one of the ones I went there the mid-year into Carmichael and then over to the high school after that. 

BaumanAnd so what year was that the Lewis and Clark burned down? Was that like in the late '40s then? 

MooreYeah. But the funny part of it is, not too many years ago they arrested a fellow down in Portland. And he was laughing about burning the building down. So I guess they couldn't do anything to him, but they found out who burned it down now. Yeah. Well, there was Lewis and Clark, Marcus Whitman, Sacajawea which was right there by Central United Protestant Church was the old Sacajawea school. And then there's Jefferson which is still going. And our fabulous people are trying to shut it down, move it, and do something else with it. But who knows what's going to happen. 

BaumanDo you remember when you were growing up and going to school and living here at that time any community events, parades? 

MooreOh, yeah! Atomic Frontier Days was a big—the big, big thing. I have breakfast with a group of Columbia High graduates and I can't remember what her name is, but she was one of them that used to run for the Queen of Frontier Days. And there was a couple others. But that was the big thing. And they used to take—Howard Amon Park turned into booths, and just like a big fair down there. So it was things, and then all a sudden they decided to move everything around to the Tri-Cities. 

BaumanAnd was that in the summer? 

MooreYeah, that was always in the summer, you know. And then the big hydroplane races, they would come in, but they were the old ones that had the 1,200 or 1,300 horse-powered gasoline engines in them, the noise makers. But that was about the extent of the things. And if we go back I can remember the floods came through and when they build all the dikes that they're tearing down now. But I don't think they got to worry about that, being as the dams are still functioning. 

BaumanDo you remember some of the floods? 

Moore: Oh yeah, I can remember the flood deals, when they built the road up to going to the Y. They had to build all that up because you didn't get to Kennewick when the flood was on. Well, it was right up to the George Washington Way road there by wherever the guy that has the petrified stumps down there. The water was just across the street from his house, was right up to the edge there. 

BaumanSo I want to go back now to Hanford itself and your work experiences there. You talked about some specific things you did and some specific things. How would you describe Hanford as a place to work? 

MooreHanford was a real good place to work. It was really good work, and good place to work. Mainly I think because you didn't know everything that was going on. So you knew that you had your section, what you were doing, and you didn't want to make waves or something like that. But to me, Hanford was a good place to work. There was a lot of--I had a lot of good friends that came up through the, I call them the ranks. They were, like I worked in the blueprint and there was guys that drove the mail trucks. We wound up as a real knit group of people there. They work out of the old 703 Building, which part of it's still there. And we used to have Coke breaks and go back there. And everybody put a quarter in the pot and then get your Coke bottle. When it was all through whoever had the bottle that was from farthest away got the kitty. So it was a good place to work, really. 

BaumanAnd I guess is there anything you would like future generations to know about working at Hanford site? 

MooreWell, I would like everybody to know that where this country really screwed up was when we dropped that bomb and blew up everything. We kept everything too secret. They should have let everybody know what that was and what was happening. Today we would have had a better deal of doing what they're doing today if they'd done that, I think. Now that's my opinion and no one else's, but if they would have just let them know what was going on, and what happened, it would have been a lot better. 

BaumanAnd then is there anything that I haven't asked you about in terms of either your job at Hanford—or jobs, I should say, at Hanford? 


BaumanOr living in Richland? That I haven't asked you about, that you'd like to talk about? 

MooreNo. Like I say, Richland was a good place to live, though, and Hanford was a good place to work. I mean you did your job, and everybody else did theirs, and everything worked out just fine. There's a lot of things that I'm not too sure of what happened. But a lot of those places they did have things when they were doing experiments for the Navy and all kind of stuff out there. But I didn't get in on any of that stuff at all. It was one of those deals, you go in and you dress out, and most the time the monitors were the first ones and the last ones out. So that was the deal. 

BaumanWhen you did that, did you wear a badge? 

MooreYeah, TLD, thermoluminescent dosimeter. So you always had a badge on. I understand that some of the guys used to take theirs and set them aside so they wouldn't get too much radiation, so they would be eligible for overtime. But I wasn't into that overtime route. 

BaumanAnd so how would you know? How did it register that you had too much exposure? How was that read? 

MooreWell they put it into a meter that would read what the thermo was. And the original ones were--what am I trying to say? Film, there was a film. And they would read the film of what, how much had been exposed to that. And that's how they got your dose rates there, how much you took. 

BaumanAnd did that change at some point to some other method? 

MooreYeah, they used the film badges to start with. Then they flipped over and they found out they could use these, what did I call them, thermoluminescent detectors, which is you put at charge on them. And I guess the radiation would discharge the charge. So they'll know how much was used off of it. And then you had pencils that you read, that would tell you, that would read if you were supposed to take, let's say, 50 MR. Well you'd set that when you come out, you'd be there and there was always time keepers. There was a time keeper in that group that was taking how much your exposure was, and how long you had been there, and calculating it to when you should get yourself out. 

BaumanAnd they would let you know that? 

MooreAnd then they'd tap you on the shoulder and say, go. So then they’d go out. And then there would be somebody out there that would get them undressed and check them, clean them, and make sure they were all, no contamination on them and either send them to lunch or home. 

BaumanAnd that sort of procedure-- 

MooreThat procedure. 

Bauman--throughout the time-- 

MooreThroughout the whole time I was there, yeah. Yeah. 

BaumanAll right. Well thank you very much. I really appreciate your being willing to come in and talk to us. And very interesting-- 

MooreYeah, like to say, there's things out there that my mind just doesn't pick up on them right now. So probably middle of the night at one o'clock, I'll wake up and say, golly, I should have told him this. But no, that's the deal. But really, Hanford was a good place to work and to me, it's been real good to me. I got a good retirement off of it. 

BaumanAll right. Well, thank you very much. 

MooreYou bet. 

BaumanI really appreciate it. 

MooreYou bet. And seeing now that he's got the shut off, I'll tell you about my week. I took my motor home and went to Ilwaco. You know where Ilwaco is on the Columbia River? 

Man three: Yeah, okay. 

MooreOn the way over there. 



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Hanford Oral History Project at Washington State University Tri-Cities, “Interview with Samuel Moore,” Hanford History Project, accessed June 24, 2024,