Spotlight: Al Ekkebus
Post-Manhattan Project Challenges in Oak Ridge
About 400,000 personnel were employed at the Clinton Engineer Works through 1946 with a maximum of 140,000 at any one time. The end of the World War II provided many challenges for Oak Ridge. These evolved from changes brought by the Atomic Energy Act of 1946, switch from military to civilian control of activities in Oak Ridge, and significant mission changes at Y-12 and Clinton Laboratories (soon to become Oak Ridge National Laboratory). Congressional oversight and interest in Oak Ridge brought attention at a level that was new to Oak Ridge. Contractors changed, and philosophies throughout Oak Ridge changed from a focus on winning the war to winning the peace. Every level of management now had to pay close attention to budgets, which limited facility upgrades and growth. UT began teaching classes locally, and the Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies was formed and provided radiation protection training for health professionals and first responders in handling radioisotopes and other radiation sources. These first steps proved to be a foundation for the city we call Oak Ridge.
Al is a guide on AMSE tours of the Manhattan Project. He retired from ORNL in 2013, where he managed ORNL’s Library, served as assistant to the lab director, and developed outreach programs for the neutron sciences. He has graduate degrees in physics and library science.
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