b'C H A P T E R 20A Q U E S T I O N O F M I SS I O NBehind the scenes, Governor MTR, but later concluded that the com- Before the NSF made its report, theSamuelson asked Bill Ginkel to lay on bined capacity of other reactors, public MTR ran its last experiment. Afterthe mantle, as it were, of the MTRs and private, could meet market demand months of preparation, the team loadedproposed new persona. Change its for irradiation. Glenn Seaborg told Utah the reactor with plutonium fuel. Theyname from MTR to WBRR, he urged. Senator Wallace Bennett that education named the core Phoenix after the leg-Make it more open to university users was the only justification for preserving endary bird that had lived five hundredand eliminate security clearances. the MTR, and other education priorities years, burned itself to ashes, and thenEstablish a users group to evaluate existed elsewhere. 11 rose to live again. The reactor demon-research proposals. Create an office to strated that plutonium fuel could behelp coordinate university activities. controlled safely in a water-moderatedProvide temporary housing for reactor. The long-envisioned nuclearresearchers at the NRTS. 10 fuel cycle, beginning with the creationof fissile material in a breeder reactor,If Ginkel was inclined to follow could be closed. Mission accom-Samuelsons recommendations, he plished, the AEC shut down the reactorfound no soft spot at AEC on April 23, 1970. 13Headquarters, which mustered not theslightest enthusiasm. The highly secre- INEC doggedly trudged on. A few daystive business of the Nuclear Navy after the shut-down, Idaho newspapersoccupied the ETR and the ATR, and the happened to carry a story from theMTR could not easily be isolated from Idaho Fish and Game Department.the rest of the complex. The no-non- Among the 250,000 pheasants shotsense, PERT-charting engineers in during the 1969 hunting season, a fewWashington were trying to streamline, had more mercury in their blood thanredirect all available resources to the was safe for human consumption. Statebreeder program, and compete for Idaho State Historical Society 66-132.1 biologists suspected that the birds hadfunds. INEC was asking the AEC to Governor Don Samuelson eaten grain contaminated with a fungi-subsidize the MTR for a very unrelated cide containing mercury. How wide-mission at a cost approaching $5 mil- spread was the problem? Would thelion a year. The AEC, therefore, turned down a pro- Department have to cancel the pheasantposal from twenty-five western univer- hunt for 1970?Obviously, INEC needed big money but sities asking the AEC to operate thecouldnt seem to raise it. The reactor. The universities offered no Rutledge saw a perfect chance toCommission succeeded in persuading funds, although private industries demonstrate why the MTR could not bethe AEC to postpone the MTR decom- pledged over $400,000 in business to allowed to fade away. The MTR couldmission date to June 1970. But the make industrial isotopes. The AEC irradiate pheasant samples. If mercurycampaign wore on through 1970 and rejected commercial involvement with- was present, neutrons would transforminto 1971, with more of the same out the concurrent sponsorship of a it to a radioactive isotope, which couldresults. Rutledge kept the issue at the public agency such as the National quickly be identified and measured.highest possible profile with an endless Science Foundation (NSF). So Once more, he tripped all the wires instream of letters and appeals. He looked Rutledge followed that path, and the INECs network. A flurry of calls, let-everywhere for investors, nurtured NSF promised to look into it. 12 ters, proposals, and conferences ensued.leads, and came up empty every time. Dr. Libby got involved. The StateRepresentatives of GE inspected the Board of Education came up with funds1 9 5'