b'P ROVING THE P RINCIPLElog book, Electricity flows from atom- nuclear reactor in the world to generate tor. And that was thatno chalk, noic energy. Rough estimate indicates 45 a useable amount of electrical power champagne. The newspaper reporterkw. After a second experiment the would forever be linked to Idaho and was more effusive, recognizing thenext day, Zinn took up a piece of chalk the NRTS. A few days later, the excite- new atomic egg they were hatchingand wrote his name on the concrete ment over, the reactor began producing as a historic event: mankinds firstwall of the reactor building and invited the electricity needed for routine opera- materials testing reactor. The wearythe crew present to follow, one by one. 3 tion of the EBR complex. team that had been working nineteen-hour days after months of preparationAtomic power was a reality. The NRTS The MTR went critical for the first time simply went home to their beds. 4had its first stunning success. The first on March 31, 1952, the first of manymilestones. Visitors from Oak Ridge But they were back soon. Doanand Argonne, who had cooperatively demanded that the stepped-up progressbuilt the project, along with Bill to full-power operation must also proveJohnston, Richard Doan, Bion that the people working near the reactorPhilipson, and others crowded together would be safe from radiation. Thisto listen to the clicking of an instrument work was the province of five HPs.counting the fissions taking place inside Doan had them report directly to histhe core. Physicist Fred McMillan oper- office and not to the reactor manager.ated the reactors control rods. This Their sole mission was to prevent alltime, the reactor didnt disappoint. workers, including absent-minded sci-Johnston said, Well, we got us a reac- entists whom the HPs sometimesINEEL 04517 referred to as squirrels, from suffer-ing the potentially harmful effects ofradiation. For this, they had the powerto evacuate work areas and scram (shutdown instantly) the reactor if theythought it necessary. 5One of many safety tasks was to testthe shielding around the MTR. Thisassignment fell to HP John Byrom, anew Phillips employee in 1952. He hadtrained in radiological physics in a spe-cial class of twelve people at OakRidge and then moved to Idaho Fallswith his family. Like most other NRTSemployees, he began the daily habit oftraveling to work on a Site bus.INEEL 4502Above. MTR control room as reactor goes critical on March 31, 1952. Below. The top of the MTR, as seenfrom catwalk above it. A crane (unseen) lowers the top plug over the reactor core. Taken on March 31, 1952,engineers were making a final check of the control rod drive. Apparatus above round plate is the control rodmechanism that ensures the control rods are attached to the drive mechanism.6 6'