b'C HAPTER F IF TEENT H E S L-1 R EA CT O RThat experience eclipses all of the other experiences I had up there.Dr. George Voelz, NRTS Medical DirectorI n the arctic tundra,Army hoped to replace the diesel supply Applying its BORAX experience,line with nuclear power.Argonne developed the project using aboiling water reactor concept. Thea treeless plain north of the conifer The vision was to package a power virtue of the system was that steamforests of Canada and Alaska, plant life plant in three or four pieces, fit them from the boiling water powered the tur-relies on shallow bogs and a few inches into cargo planes or trucks, and have bine directly, eliminating the weight andof top soil. Below, the soil is frozen all soldiers assemble them in a few hours. complexity of a secondary loop andyear long, permanently unresponsive to Easy to operate, a plant would run at heat exchanger equipment. 2the spring thaw. Vast acreages of the least three years on one fuel loading.tundra allow practically no life at all, The plant need generate only a thou- With tundra permafrost conditions inthe ground a dark and flinty mat of sand kilowatts, and mind, the Army wanted to test not onlystones. when the mission the reactor, but its building as well. T he ended, the crew prototype, assigned to Idaho, was readyThis was the setting that could pack it up to build in 1957. The building shellthe U.S. Ar my again and ship was a circular steel tank, a silo-like described to the it elsewhere. cylinder forty-eight feet high and aboutA rgonne Lab as the Would Argonne thirty-eight feet in diameter. It sat ondestination for a design a proto- dummy piers arranged in a circle. Insmall nuclear power type? 1 the arctic the piers would hold the bot-plant. The Army had tom of the silo two feet above the per-in mind the Distant mafrost and leave airspace between theEarly Warning sys- floor and the ground.tem, the DEW Li nThis would prevente .Beginning in 1953, transferring heat todozens of manned the permafrost.radar stations ringed Despite its armoredthe Arctic Circle, on appearance, the siloconstant watch for a was not intended asSoviet air invasion. The a containment struc- Army regularly shipped diesel ture. Both the NRT Sfuel to each station for heat and electrici- INEEL 60-3227 and potential arctict y. This was costly and sometimes haz- Cutaway of SL-1 reactor and the control building. destinations were sufficiently remote,ardous in such remote areas, and the Reactor floor is above shielding gravel. Fan floor is and the power level of the reactor above reactor floor.1 3 8'