The AEC maintained programs for nuclear weapons research, development, production, and testing; production of plutonium and weapons grade uranium; milling andrefining of uranium ore; biomedical researchinto the effects of radiation and nuclear weapons; basic nuclear research in fields such as chemistry, physics, and metallurgy; development ofnuclear reactors; promotion of a civilian nuclear powerindustry; and conduct of international Atoms-for-Peace activities. It was unique amongfederal agencies in combining responsibilities to both promote and regulate a . technology. In 1947 the AEC assumed control of research and productionfacilities created by the Manhattan Engineer District (MED) during World War I. Thefacilities were scattered from coast to coast, with the primary ones being located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Hanford, Washington; and Los Alamos, New Mexico. At Oak Ridge the Manhattan Project established facilities for the production ofbomb grade uranium. It also had intended to build muclear reactors for plutonium production there as well. When research showed that production reactors would generate far moreheat and radioactivity than scientists had previously believed, the Manhattan Project located plutonium production facilities near Hanford, Washington. During the war the E. I. DuPont de Nemours Company built and operated Hanford plutonium production facilities for the Manhattan Engineer District. To operateits facilities, the MED had used contractors while retaining government ownership of plants, laboratories, and buildings: The AEC continued this system of government-owned, contractor-operated (GOCO)facilities. At Hanford, DuPont pulled out as the operating contractorafter the end of the war. In 1946 General Electric acquired the managing and operating contract and assumed responsibility for producing plutonium. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory: Shortly after the MED began building plutonium production facilities at Hanford, it formed a research laboratory to support productionactivities. The laboratory, eventually called the Hanford Laboratories, launched programs to study radiation damage to reactor materials, to investigate fuel processing techniques, to develop processes for the removal of useful fission products from reactor wastes, and to study the biological and environmental effects ofproduction reactor operation. Because the MED intended to place huge production reactors on the Columbia River, there was special interest in studying reactor environmental impact and effects on aquatic life, particularly since the Columbia provided drinking water and food for millions of people in the Pacific Northwest. To investigate the biological and environmental effects of production reactors, for example, the Hanford Laboratories launched several programs. One examined the effect of the reactors on river fish and aquatic biology and another the effects on the environment of radioisotopes released routinely during reactor operation. This effort focused onthe effects ofiodine, tritium, radioactive particles, and plutonium on the environment and man. The Hanford Laboratories also initiated programs to study the absorption ofradioisotopesthrough the human gastrointestinal tract and methodsoftreating radiation injury. Until the middle 1960s the Hanford Laboratories focused on nuclear technology and the environmental and health effects of radiation.