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New Finds in Huntington’s Manhattan Project, Cold War History
Wednesday, September 11, 2013 - 09:21 Updated 12 weeks ago by Tony Rutherford HuntingtonNews.Net Reporter
The Huntington Pilot Plant (a.k.a. Reduction Pilot Plant) has been recognized by the Department of Energy (DOE, former Atomic Energy Commission) as a site where support production for the nation’s gaseous diffusion plants (Portsmouth, Paducah, and Oak Ridge) occurred, including key barrier parts (and in some cases recycling thereof from the diffusion process to separate nickel and uranium from plutonium.
The most recent revision of HPP found:
“Excerpts from OROO Accounting Manual (1958)” (OROO1952), which states: Under contract provisions with AEC, the International Nickel Company receives P-2 materials from the Union Carbide Nuclear Company, K-25, and Paducah plants, and the Goodyear Atomic Corporation at Portsmouth and converts the P-2 materials into RM powder.”
Voices of the Manhattan Project developed by the Atomic Heritage Foundation (http://www.manhattanprojectvoices.org/location/decatur ) confirms earlier reports of assembly of nickel powder diffusion barrier materials at the Houdaille-Hershey Plant in Decatur, Illinois. Historic documents indicated that the INCO plant at Huntington supplied the nickel powder.
However, the grandson of a former Huntington Houdaille worker confirms that his “grandfather died in the 80s of lung cancer and a brain tumor.” Nickel was part of the process used to make bumpers at Houdaille.
His father worked at the Huntington INCO plant.
“My dad was president of the INCO retirees group. He passed in 2009 of a “RARE” form of leukemia. The doctor’s said it was from a major chemical exposure either from INCO or Agent Orange.”
The road toa nickel material suitable for plating the interior pipes, used for the uranium enrichment process, did not come without failures. In January of 1943, Interior decorator Edward Norris and chemist Edward Adler perfected an electro-deposited nickel mesh process.On April 1, 1943, Houdaille-Hershey Corporation had started construction of the Decatur facility when contractor Kellex combined the best attributes of the Norris-Adler invention with a compressed nickel powder addition.
Back in a 2005, Cynthia Kelly for the Atomic Heritage Foundation interviewed George Mahfouz, who was involved in the Dayton Process to make the atomic bomb trigger, told of the nickel development at Decatur --- part of which was unrevealed due to his perception that it could still be classified.
“A plant was being built and we didn’t even have a process yet that you could make a decent tube, if you will—this is a hollow tube, okay? And they were having an awful time because the process that they were working on was one that involved coating nickel on copper and taking some of the copper off. The nickel was a nickel compound and this was utilizing powder metallurgy technology at that time. I’m not sure what of the process is still classified—that, I have no knowledge, so that’s about as far as I’m going to go there.” http://www.manhattanprojectvoices.org/oral-histories/george-mahfouzs-interview
When completed, workers at the Decatur plant undertook nickel-plating of pipe interiors. According to the website, workers completed the “difficult new process by filling the pipes themselves with a plating solution and rotating them as the plating current did its work.”
Like the Huntington Houdaille quandary, Lockport, New York resident Dave Myrick and his dad, conducted uranium and thorium work at the Simonds Saw and Steel Division a.k.a. Allegheny-Lundlum Steel Corp.
Following a petition , total rewrite and re-evaluation, Simonds Saw and Steel Division qualified. http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/ocas/pdfs/tbd/simonds-r1.pdf
For more on the Simonds story: