U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, a Democrat, plus civic leaders, lawmakers and preservationists are working to turn Hanford's B Reactor into an "interpretive atomic heritage site."
Cantwell sought funding Tuesday to study the idea with the goal of eventually making the reactor a national historic site and turning it over to the National Park Service.
Her proposal also calls for money to be used to study weapons facilities in New Mexico and Tennessee that formed the backbone of the Manhattan Project, which led to the first atomic bomb.
Senate aides and the National Park Service estimate it would cost $850,000 to survey the three sites. Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., whose district includes Hanford, has sponsored a similar bill in the House.
"I believe it is tremendously important for the citizens of our nation to learn about the important functions the various Manhattan Project sites served in defending our nation, from World War II through the Cold War -- including the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, in my home state of Washington," Cantwell told the Senate Energy Committee Tuesday.