Hanford tour a hot ticket

Registration for tours of B Reactor become available just as Tuesday comes into being. Past demand has been fierce.

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WALLA WALLA -- Chances to tour a Nuclear Age birthplace will be up for grabs Tuesday. But be ready to lose some sleep to snare a ticket.

Online registration for tours of Hanford Site's B Reactor will open at 12:01 a.m. that day and if history is any guide, those who hesitate will be lost. Available seats for the free tours fill up fast, with all usually being reserved within hours.

The tours will begin in April and run through September. Visitors will travel to the site aboard a 43-seat bus and all tours will begin and end at the Tri-Cities Enterprise Center, 2000 Logston Blvd., in Richland. Each tour will give participants a two-hour visit to the reactor, not counting time travel to and from the site.

Participants must be at least 18 years old, but do not have to be U.S. citizens. Visitors should also wear appropriate clothing and read the rules regarding prohibited items posted on the Department of Energy's Hanford website.

The intense public interest in Hanford Site tours was illustrated earlier this week when registration for sitewide tours opened. All 2,548 seats for the tours were booked about eight hours after registration opened up, said DOE spokesman Rich Buel.

"Within two minutes we had 371 seats booked and within five minutes, by 12:06 a.m., there were 972 seats taken," he said. Registration requests came from 35 states as from 12 countries.

"Folks were burning the midnight oil," Buel said.

People who missed their chance to register for the sitewide tours should keep checking the Hanford website to see if seats open up due to cancellations. The best times to check are 10-12 days in advance of a scheduled tour, Buel said.

Unlike the B Reactor tours, people should also keep in mind the sitewide tours are restricted to U.S. citizens only. People should check the website for prohibited items.

Andy Porter can be reached at andyporter@wwub.com or 526-8318.

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