- EBR-1 and ARCO (Idaho) -

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EBR-1 (Experimental Breeding Reactor-1), the first nuclear reactor to produce useable amounts of electricity, has been designated as a 'National Historic Landmark'. It's situated 18 miles (29 kilometres) East of Arco and 50 miles (80 kilometres) West of Idaho Falls.
The side road to the facility passes though the barren country in which EBR-1 is situated

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After World War II, US Atomic Energy Commission extended its program for the investigation of peaceful uses for atomic energy. The idea for a breeder reactor - a reactor that could produce more fuel than it uses - was first mooted in the early 1940s. Uranium was in short supply at the time (it was not until the 1950s that large deposits of uranium ore were discovered in various sites around the world) so the viability of the project would be dependent upon a uranium 'breeding' process.

Late in 1949 construction of an experimental atomic power station, EBR-1, began at the National Reactor Testing Station in Idaho. The reactor was built at Atomic Energy Commission's Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago and installed at EBR-1 early in 1951.
(Aerial photograph with acknowledgement to the US Atomic Energy Commission and the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory)

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On Dec. 20, 1951, the reactor was started up and several hours later (at 1:50pm) electricity in usable amounts started flowing from the turbine generator. Four glowing light bulbs indicated the genesis of nuclear-generated electric power.
(Photograph with acknowledgement to the US Atomic Energy Commission and the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory)

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The following day sufficient power to operate the EBR-I building was generated and, later, enough to supply the nearby town of Arco.

EBR-I was used for research until the reactor was decommissioned in 1964.
The reactor was proclaimed as a Registered Historical National Monument at a ceremony on 26 August 1966 attended by US President Lyndon B. Johnson.
bAtomic06.jpg - 48031 BytesBefore the 15,000 people at the ceremony, he said, "We have come to a place today where hope was born that man would do more with his discovery (of atomic fission) than unleash destruction in its wake."
In 1973, a plan was agreed upon to open EBR-I to the public. Planning in 1973 led to the decontamination of the reactor. On 14 June 1975 the facility was opened to the public for the first time. Free guided tours are still available during the summer months.
The advertisement (right) appears on the road from Pocatello to Arco. In the distance can be seen the large, new US Department of Energy facility.

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Today more than 100 nuclear power plants provide twenty percent of the electricity consumed in the United States. More than 435 reactors provide some seventeen percent of the world's electricity, and more plants are under construction around the world.

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