James Acord

James L. Acord in front of the Fast Flux Test Facility, Hanford Site, WA, USA.

James Leroy Acord (19 October 1944 – 9 January 2011) was an artist who worked directly with radioactive materials. He attempted to create sculpture and events that probed the history of nuclear engineering and asked questions about the long-term storage of nuclear waste. For 15 years he lived in Richland, Washington, the dormitory town for the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, at one time home to nine nuclear reactors and five plutonium-processing complexes and the most contaminated nuclear site in the United States. His major ambition while there was to build a “nuclear Stonehenge” on a heavily contaminated area of land in the site, incorporating twelve uranium breeder-blanket assemblies.

Acord was the only private individual in the world licensed to own and handle radioactive materials, and acquired nuclear fuel rods containing depleted uranium from the completed but not operated German SNR-300 breeder reactor to use as artistic materials. He had his nuclear license number tattooed onto his neck. He spoke on art and nuclear science at both art and nuclear industry events in the US and the UK and organised many forums that brought together artists, activists and nuclear industry experts.