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IDAHO NATIONAL LABORATORY:

OUR RADIOACTIVE BACKYARD

IDAHO NATIONAL LABORATORY:

OUR RADIOACTIVE BACKYARD

IDAHO NATIONAL LABORATORY:

OUR RADIOACTIVE BACKYARD

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The Idaho National Laboratory (INL) was built in 1949 on public land that the U.S. Navy used during World War II as a gunnery range. It covers 890 square miles (about 2/3 the area of Rhode Island) of southern Idaho’s high desert plain. Beneath that plain lies the Snake River Aquifer, the second largest unified aquifer on the North American continent. After the aquifer flows beneath INL, it continues westward, providing water for the Magic Valley, drinking water for more than 300,000 Idahoans, and supporting one of the state’s richest agricultural regions with a growing population and diverse economy.

Idaho National Laboratory is the nation’s center for nuclear energy research and development and has four primary nuclear objectives:

  1. Commercial nuclear reactor research and development
  2. Reactor development and operator training for the U.S. Navy
  3. Ongoing nuclear waste storage and disposal
  4. Nuclear weapons reprocessing

Intentional and accidental pollution from these four activities led to a fifth objective—environmental cleanup—after the Environmental Protection Agency named INL a Superfund site in 1989.                  

Fifty-two nuclear reactors were designed and constructed at INL. It is also the site where the Navy first demonstrated its nuclear propulsion systems, and where it trained sailors and officers how to operate those systems.

Idaho National Laboratory: A Historical Environmental Perspective describes the Idaho National Laboratory’s origins, history of nuclear contamination, and the efforts to clean up that waste and protect our environment from further radioactive contamination. Thanks to Beatrice Brailsford, retired Nuclear Program Director of the Snake River Alliance, and “The Third Rail” for this presentation.

Snake River Alliance Idaho National Laboratory — Part 1

Snake River Alliance Idaho National Laboratory — Part 2