The Atomic Energy Commission: From its inception m 1947 until ite abolition in 1974, the

ABC carried out o Congressional mamdate for a large federal role in stomic enerey development.

The AEC maunained programs for nuclear weapons research, development, production, and
testing; production of plutoniun and weapons grade urankem, milling and refining of uraniumore;
momedical research into the effects of radiation and nuclear weapons, basic suclear research in
Helds such as chemistry, physics, and metallurey, development ofnuclear reactors, promotion of a
crilian auchear power industry; and conduct of imernational Atams-for-Peace activities. Ip was
unicue among federal agencies im combining responsibilities to both promote and regulate a
technology. Tt promulgated official regulanons to govern the conduct ofofficials implementing
many of these programs.
in 1947 the AEC assumed control of research and production fhailites created by the Manhattan
Engineer District (MED) during World War TL. The fecilities were scattered trom coast to coast,

with the primary oues being located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, Hantord, Washington, and Los

Alamos, New Mexico. The MED operated them through comracts with private universities, such

as the Universityof California, and private companies, such as Dubont and Union Carbide. To
develop the atomic bom, the MEP? established ¢.compies of production slants and ishoratories
im which the government owned the facilities but tanned the expertise of Indusiry and universities |
through contracting ont the task of operating them.
The AECdid not change the MED's system of government-owned, combractor operated (CHO)
facilities. To provule government oversight of contractor operated facilities some distance from
Washington, the AEC initially created five Held centers of operanons and gave them broad
delegations of authoriry. Each was to manage a different part of agency programs, and exercised
broad authority within Heute set by AEC Washington headquarters. Each, however, was to have
unusual initietive and freedom of action as lone as R operated within general policy guidelines set
oy Washington.
The Richland Operations Office: At Richland the ARC had to oversee a large plutonium
production complex. Intual site construction had started in 1943 and within 2 years an enormous
complies was in place. By une 1944 aporeximarely 39,000 workers labored to complete
Hantord. By war's end they had built a chatootum production facility consisting of three suclear
production reactors, three chemical separations plants, and other ancillary plants. In accordance
with the MED"s practice of employing private industry to construct and operate the atomic bomb
develoument complex, B.1. DuPom de Nemours and Company constructed and operated the site.


Because this facility wes oo large amd complex. in 1947 the AEC crested a field center of
operations whose sole task was te supervise the Hanford plutonium production facility. Called
the Ciffice of Hanford Directed Operations, the AEC soon changed its name to the Hanford
Operations Office, and. then a decade lgter, to the Richland Operations Office. The office was
located in Richland. Washineton, a Tew miles from the Hanford praduction ste. Unhke seme
ather ABC operations offices, the (Hfice of Hanford Txrected Cperations supervised actrvities,

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