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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


The Idaho National Laboratory (INL) was established by the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) in 1949 as the National Reactor Testing Station (NRTS). In 1975 the AEC was divided into the Energy Research and Development Administration (ERDA) and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). NRTS was called ERDA for a short time and then renamed the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory (INEL) in 1977 with the creation of the Department of Energy (DOE). During that time it expanded into biotechnology, energy and materials research, conservation, and renewable energy. In the spring of 1997 its name expanded to the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL). On February 1, 2005, the name changed again as the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory-West became the Idaho National Laboratory.

For a long time the site contained the largest concentration of nuclear reactors in the world. It is home to the first reactor, Experimental Breeder Reactor No. 1(EBR-1), which is now a Registered National Historic Landmark, to produce usable amounts of electricity in 1951. The facility stopped producing material for atomic weapons in 1989 after the identification of safety and environmental problems; but it still continued to function as a storage site for spent nuclear fuel (SNF). As of July 30, 2007, only three of its 52 reactors were still in operation. Among the three are the Advanced Test Reactor (ATR), which is a materials testing reactor and has produced radioisotopes used in medicine, industry and research; the Advanced Test Reactor Critical Facility (ATRC), which is used to conjunction with the ATR to verify the safety of a proposed experiment; and the Neutron Radiography Facility (NRAD), which is a nondestructive examination facility.

The INL is located in a rural, sparsely populated sector of southeastern Idaho. The eastern boundary of INL is 45 miles east of Idaho Falls and the site covers 569,135 acres (890 square miles). INL facilities are concentrated in three main complexes. The Reactor Technology Complex, which houses the ATR, has focused on nuclear reactor technology research and development. A radiochemistry laboratory has been scheduled for completion in 2009. The Materials & Fuels Complex has been primarily engaged in nuclear fuel research and development. The Research & Education Campus (REC) is the administrative center for the INL.

A federally funded research and development center (FFRDC) and multiprogram laboratory, INL has been focused primarily on applied engineering. Programmatic activities include environmental restoration, waste management, environmental management, research and development, spent fuels storage and management, nuclear energy programs, naval reactor programs at the ATR and INTEC, infrastructure and landlord management programs, work for others, fossil energy programs, Office of Non-proliferation and National Security activities, and safeguards and security activities. The site has also hosted the National Nuclear Security Agency's Naval Reactors Facility (NRF).

INL conducts a variety of advanced scientific research and development projects in support of the DOE and other government agencies, such as the Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. Air Force. Specific research and development areas include lasers, organic and inorganic chemistry, biotechnology, genetics, geoscience, material science, physics, and environmental science. INL has two missions. The first is nuclear and enrgy research, science, and national defense programs as directed by the DOE Office of Nuclear Energy. The second involves cleanup programs as directed by DOE Office of Environmental Management. Regarding the former, INL is working to develop Generation IV nuclear energy systems, nuclear energy/hydrogen co-production technology, and nuclear energy fuel cycle technologies.

Three main program operate from the INL site. The first is INL itself. The management of INL, with the exception of Argonne National Laboratory-West (ANL-W) and the Nuclear Reactor Facility (NRF), was contracted to Lockheed Martin Idaho Technologies Company (LMITCO) on October 1, 1994. The DOE Idaho Operations Office (DOE-ID) was responsible for the contract. The LMITCO contract ran through October 1999 when Bechtel BWXT Idaho, LLC assumed management. As of June 2008, Battelle Energy Alliance operates INL for the DOE. The second program is the Idaho Cleanup Project, which is managed by CH2M-WG Idaho. The third is the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Plant managed by Bechtel BWXT Idaho.

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One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias

Page last modified: 24-07-2011 03:41:51 ZULU