RICHLAND, Wash. – Classified records from the start of the Manhattan Project arrived safely at the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration near Washington, D.C., after EM Richland Operations Office (RL) contractor Hanford Mission Integration Solutions (HMIS) securely prepped them for a lengthy journey under escort by drivers holding top secret clearance from DOE.
The records include items from the 1940s and 1950s that hold permanent historical value, and document work done when the Hanford Site produced plutonium for the atomic bomb that helped to end World War II. The National Archives only considers 1 to 3% of documents and materials created during federal government business important enough to be kept forever.
“Records documenting work connected to the world’s first production-scale nuclear reactor are of great historical value and significant enough to preserve for their public value and educational benefits,” said Brian Harkins, RL assistant manager for Mission Support. “Permanent storage at the U.S. National Archives will allow equal access, where possible, to these notable artifacts.”
The 225 boxes of hard-copy records were carefully prepared by HMIS information security and records management teams, who worked together to reduce classified holdings on the site while meeting a deadline set by the agency overseeing the National Archives. Soon the agency will only accept digital, or electronic, versions of eligible records.
To meet the standard for records acceptance, the project adhered to stringent requirements, including use of special boxes, indexes, classification tabs, specific stacking order and obscuring shrink-wrap for shipment. When the records were ready for shipment, teams loaded the classified material into a truck and applied a high-security lock, to which only the archives agency had a key, and a tamper-indicating bolt. Two drivers with top secret authorization transported the records to ensure 24/7 monitoring in transit.
“We are proud to see the conclusion of this project, which began in 2019 and took extensive communication and coordination,” said David Chase, HMIS vice president of Safeguards, Security & Emergency Response. “Our teams took great care in both adhering to the strict protocols required to complete the admissions process laid out by the archives agency and ensuring records protection during transport.”
Contributor: Robin Wojtanik
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