b'P ROVING THE P RINCIPLEsupplying emergency electrical power away from the reactor? Could power The new AEC began to set priorities forto on-shore operations after earthquakes plants be safe enough to operate near experimental reactors and assign pro-or other disasters. Reactors could be populated areas? Could uranium pro- jects to its laboratories. These taskssmall, medium, or large, depending on duce electricity cheaper than coal or confounded the commissioners forthe need. Perhaps they could be loaded natural gas? In sum, the science of more than two years. They seemedinto trucks or airplanes and then nuclear reactors had to be developed unable to settle on a program. Finally,reassembled in the Arctic or in a nearly from scratch. the AECs Reactor Safeguardsdesert. 16 Committee advised that, for safety rea-sons, the AEC shouldThe Navy and build proposed reac-the Air Force tor experiments at awere first to remote location, notmobilize their at any existing labo-interests. They ratory. Nuclearasserted them- research would bringselves as the with it nuclear wasteAEC struggled to and chemical pro-get organized. cessing, neither ofThe growing fear which were suitableof communism by-products forcontributed to heavily populatedtheir causes. But areas. Most impor-before the AEC tantly, if an accidentcould apply were to occur, itnuclear energy to should not endangerthe goals of large numbers ofeither service, it people. Walter Zinnhad to accom- himself agreed withplish a huge this:backlog of pre-liminary I am inclined to theresearch. opinion that for aOnce the announcement was made that the atomic nation with the land space of ours andThe central fact was that the scientists reactor station would be in Idaho, the AEC had to with the financial resources of ours,had produced only a bomb, a sudden decide where to locate its headquarters. adopting a very conservative attitudeexplosion finished in seconds. Making on safety is not an unnecessary luxury.17electricity had little in common withmaking bombs. Could a reactor be reli- Or, as AEC Commissioner Sumner Pikeably controlled for long periods of put it, We didnt want to put work liketime? What metals and materials could this next to a high school. The deci-withstand the corrosive forces of heat sion to build a testing station forand radiation for long periods of time? reactors seemed to liberate the AEC,What form should uranium fuel take? unsticking it from a two-year habit ofWhat was the best way to carry heat talk and no firm decisions. In January1949 the commissioners created a2 6'