To commemorate the publication of ATSDR’s final report on the Oak Ridge Reservation in Tennessee, we are posting this story about the history of the site and about two decades of ATSDR community work.
The Manhattan Project Comes to Tennessee
In August 1945, the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. The power of these new weapons led to the end of World War II. Most people were unaware that the bombs were the product of the highly classified Manhattan Project, the United States effort to build the first atomic bomb.
In the 1940s, the Manhattan Project built several nuclear sites around the country, including a main facility 25 miles east of Knoxville, Tennessee, in an isolated river valley with access to highway and rail, and an abundance of water and electricity. There, the Army Corps of Engineers constructed Oak Ridge, a new, secure city surrounded by a barbed-wire fence. Workers at Oak Ridge did not know the ultimate product of their work and could not discuss their jobs with anyone, including their families.