b'I n t ro d u c t i o nW hat did they actually do there? Thisquestion has come my way frequently while researching and writing this history.Idahoans seem to have a sense of continuity with their mining and timber roots,their agricultural heritage, and the great themes of the WestLewis and Clark, theOregon Trail, Reclamation. But when it comes to their nuclear heritage, connec-tions seem vague. The Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory(INEEL) was set up deliberately in a remote area. Fifty years later, it still isremote, in more ways than one.I became curious about the INEEL after hearing a lecture about Hanford, the gov-ernments other nuclear facility in the Pacific Northwest. The speaker describedHanfords secret war-time mission to manufacture plutonium for weapons andcriticized its later environmental record. The talk made me wonder about the roleof INEEL in the nuclear world, for I knew little of its history. Therefore, when Iwas asked in June 1998 to prepare a history of the INEEL on the occasion of its50th anniversary in 1999, I was ready with questions to ask of the past.The story of the INEEL, originally named the National Reactor Testing Station(NRTS), is really a thousand stories. Sadly, not all could be in this book. Amongthose not here are certain defense research topicsthe Centaurus laser-pumpingexperiments, for exampleand medical topics like the campaign to recycle thePower Burst Facility for Boron Neutron Capture Therapy, a potential treatment fora deadly type of brain tumor. The accomplishments of the Radiological andEnvironmental Sciences Laboratory and a kaleidoscopic array of recent non-nuclear research are likewise missing. Recent decades in general receive lessattention than the early days. But then, recent decades are full of programs andissues that continue to evolve, so perhaps it is better to let them mellow before ahistorian tries to characterize them.This book is neither a technical report nor a scientific assessment. It is intendedfor the general reader with no background in physics, chemistry, or any other sci-ence. It aims to trace the changing relationship between a federal nuclear laborato-ry and its home state. Nuclear science is a character in the story, however, but notdressed in all its technical finery. A glossary and acronym list are available at theback of the book for those who wish an occasional reminder.i x'