TO: Admiral John A. Waters, Jr., Director of Security, Atomic Energy Commission.
FROM: Joseph McCarthy, Security Supervisor, Hanford Works, Hanford, Washington.
DATE: 26 December 1952.
RE: Possible loss of plutonium from Hanford Works.
- On the afternoon of 24 December 1952, three sealed freight cars belonging to the A.E.C. were added to a Union Pacific freight train bound from Portland, Oregon, to Salt Lake City, Utah, at Benton Port, Washington.
- From Salt Lake City, the sealed cars—two decoys and real cargo car—were bound for Sandia Laboratory, Albuquerque, New Mexico. They bore standard Union Pacific Railroad markings and were indistinguishable from the other cars.
- On the night of 24-25 December 1952, the freight train derailed near Nampa, Idaho. Several freight cars caught fire.
- The Security Office at Hanford did not receive report of this incident until just before noon on Christmas Day. Investigators were immediately dispatched.
- The preliminary telephone report from the investigators make several alarming points.
- The train appears to have derailed because the spikes securing the rails on two successive 39-foot sections had been removed before the train arrived.
- The freight cars caught fire because of arson.
- Small explosive charges were used to destroy the seals and locks on the A.E.C. real cargo car, but not on the two decoys.
- A small, but as yet undetermined part of the cargo destined for Sandia was removed.
- Investigation continues. Request permission to contact the F.B.I. offices in Salt Lake City and Seattle.