America's First Nuclear Disaster

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Sl-1: America's First Nuclear Disaster Describe the Incident and Identify Toxic Materials On January 3, 1961 at 9:01 PM the United States experienced what any believe the be the first nuclear reactor accident in world history (Adams, 1996). The US Army had commissioned a small reactor prototype to be built in the Idaho desert that surround Idaho Falls. They believed that they were isolated enough that they could conduct experiments with a small reactor that would mimic the conditions of the site they wished to have the reactor on while also allowing for a safety zone for the people in the nearby town. The reactor was a small three rod affair that did not have the shielding or the safety measures that would come in response to this accident (Stacy, 2000, 144). For some reason, the center control rod, possibly for maintenance purposes, was manually lifted approximately 50 cm (Stacy, 2000, 141). This caused there to be an instant, or prompt, criticality which caused the reactor to blow up (Stacy, 2000, 141). The reason for this appears to be that the reactor activated due to the reaction caused by the influx of water, a moderator, into the system. The reaction rapidly heated the moderator and the cooling water to steam which expanded in the small containment vessel and caused the reactor pressure lid to blow off of the vessel (Stacy, 2000, 141). Two of the three men, who were working inside the reactor compartment, apparently died instantly from the explosion. The other
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