b'C H A P T E R 5I N V E N T I N G T H E T E S T I N G S T A T I O NBut before the AEC carried out that engineers bragged for years about how ments (if not always at five-mile incre-unfriendly step, it compromised by pay- this procedure had helped to save ments), establishing the testing stationsing for new transmission lines and money. Other areas proved suitable as characteristic land-use pattern of widelycapitulating to a ten-year contract. 6 well, including one near the place separated clusters of buildings. Eachwhere the new highway from Idaho project settled into its own desertFinding satisfactory reactor sites was Falls was expected to intersect with the island, connected to central servicesthe immediate priority. Each would road from Blackfoot. 9 by roads and utility lines. need water, electricity, access, andsecurity. As many as ten reactors might The reactor sites had to meet safetyA site was good only if water could bebe built eventually. Although the desert criteria. The Reactor Safeguards brought to it. Idaho geologists familiarseemed vast, the reactors couldnt go Committee, which had recommended with the desert area of which the prov-just anywhere. Above all else, reactor the remote testing station in the first ing ground was only a small part hadbuildings would be dense and weighty. place, required that two concentric zones told the Detroit consultants that a fewEach needed a rock-solid earthquake- surround any reactor site. The near zone dry wells had been drilled here and thereproof foundation for reinforced con- would be a controlled-access area where along with some productive ones but thecrete basements, lead and concrete an accident might pose severe danger. data was scant. They spoke of anshields, and heavy steel frames. Some The radius of this area was determinedu n d e rground stream flowing betweenof the deserts windblown soils lay by a formula based on the reactorsrather thinly on the lava rock, and no power level. The second zone would beone wanted to spend a lot of money determined by a combination of reactorblasting basalt. 7 type, meteorology, hydrology, and seis-m o l og y. Danger within this zone was The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sent low, but nevertheless should containtwo core drilling crews to Idaho, one only a limited population. To make surefrom each of its Sacramento and Wal l athis secondary zone was large enough,Walla district offices. The Navy had not the AEC arranged to buy additional landneeded to explore below the surface at east and west of what the Navy hadthe proving ground, so it was uncharted withdrawn from the public domain.t e rr it o r y. Core samples revealed the F i na l y, an informal practice hadldepth of the soils overlying the lava rock evolved during the Manhattan Project ofand profiled the alternating layers of sed- siting reactors no closer than five milesiments, basalt, and water-bearing gravels. from one another when this was feasi-The crews also evaluated spillway and ble. This may explain why the MTR andbridge structures already on the Site. 8 the S1W were located five miles apart. 10 When they tested the land east of the The safety principle of isolationBig Lost River, the drillers discovered applied to all future reactor experi-that the depth to bedrock was greatestnear the creekbed and diminished withdistance. Therefore, once the architects Above. National Oceanic and Atmospherichad decided on the desired depth of a Administration wind rose depicts wind patterns at thebasement, they could put the building n o rth end of the Site. Right. In the early years, U.S.where the depth of overlying gravels Weather Bureau employees launched helium-filledmatched the basement depth, minimiz- balloons twice a day to measure the upper level winding the blasting of lava rock. The civil speed, direction, temperature, pre s s u re, and humidity.Courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/INEEL 60-11003 9'