b'C H A P T E R 3T H E U RA N I U M T RA I L L EA DS T O I D A H ODivision of Reactor Development and With all the data gathered, the bottom Upon the uproar that arose whenhired Lawrence R. Hafstad to be its line was that the Montana site would Montana discovered its loss, Chairmandirector. Lilienthal gave him his first cost the AEC $50 million more than if Lilienthal tried to quiet the ruckus byassignment: recommend a site for the it built in Idaho. After that, annual explaining the decision to Montanatesting station. 18 operating expenditures in Montana Governor John Bonner and making thewould cost a significant premium. announcement public, which he did onThe site had to meet safety criteria. Furthermore, the Idaho location had a March 22. Montana kicked for anotherFewer than 10,000 people should reside far superior socio-economic profile; two months, appealing fruitlessly toin the nearby area. No other national nearby towns could provide a better President Truman and to the JCAE atdefense sites should be in the vicinity. base to absorb new population. 21 hearings in April and May. 24The AEC must have complete controlof the property. Fuel, water, and electri- The AEC decided on the Idaho site on On April 4, the AEC named Leonard E.cal power should be plentiful. Weather February 18, 1949, and called it the Johnston as the man to open and man-and geological conditions should pre- National Reactor Testing Station age an AEC field office near the testingvent contamination of lakes and water- (NRTS). The local press called it the station. His mission was to adapt theways. Earthquake-prone sites were atom plant. Lewis Strauss, one of the Naval Proving Ground for scientificout. 19commissioners, had old friends at the experiments involving nuclear reactorsNavys Bureau of Ordnance and felt and using uranium. 25By the time Hafstad was on board, a that the Navy would surrender itslist of some twenty sites had shrunk to investment peacefully. He was mistak-two candidates: Ft. Peck, Montana, and en; the Navy resisted. It demanded thatthe Naval Proving Ground in southeast the AEC support a congressional autho-Idaho. Sentiment seemed to favor Ft. rization for funds the Navy could usePeck. By this time, frustration over elsewhere. 22inaction was palpable. Still, the AECpaused and asked an engineering firm Despite the secrecy of AEC delibera-from Detroit to compare the virtues of tions, Montana and Idaho interests boththe two sites. 20 knew that their territory was in the run-ning for something big. The Idaho FallsThe Detroit firm quickly rounded up an and Pocatello chambers of commerceimpressive array of facts on climate, had retained former senator D. Worthgeology, labor, land, and construction Clark and his law partner Thomasmaterials. They evaluated rail and high- Corcoran to represent them inway connections and assessed the Washington and find out if any influ-socio-economic characteristics of near- ence could be exerted, and if so, how.by towns. The analysts even took the The Montana congressional delegationtrouble to ask the commanding officer had been aware of the early tilt towardat the Naval Proving Ground if there Ft. Peck and thought the deal was set.was much fog at the site during the Suddenly news leaked out that Idahowinter. was the top favorite. 232 7'