1942 Manhattan Project
In the fall of 1942, design work began on the facility in Wilmington while DuPont personnel helped Army officials locate a site. The team chose Hanford, located along the Columbia River in central Washington, not only for its proximity to hydroelectric power, but also for its sparsely populated, remote location. Having been accused of profiteering after World War I, DuPont charged only a $1 fee for its work at Hanford and turned over to the federal government all patent rights that resulted from its work there.
The scope of the project called for unprecedented innovation in materials, design and management all done by DuPont’s specially formed “TNX” division. Although government scientists were impatient, DuPont worked deliberately, determined to make no misstep. In March 1943, DuPont supervisors and construction workers began building chemical reactors, separation plants, raw material facilities, acres of housing, and miles of roads. Soon the once desolate town was the third largest city in Washington State with a population of 55,000. By late 1944, the project was completed and functioning flawlessly, all at a cost of $2.5 million. DuPont was determined to stay out of military production in peacetime, and withdrew from Hanford nine months after the end of the war.