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Idaho Falls: The Untold Story of America's First Nuclear Accidentby William Mckeown
Synopses & Reviews
When asked to name the worlds first major nuclear accident, most people cite the Three Mile Island incident or the Chernobyl disaster. Revealed in this book is one of American historys best-kept secrets: the worlds first nuclear reactor accident to claim fatalities happened on United States soil. Chronicled here for the first time is the strange tale of SL-1, a military test reactor located in Idahos Lost River Desert that exploded on the night of January 3, 1961, killing the three-man maintenance crew on duty. Through details uncovered in official documents, firsthand accounts from rescue workers and nuclear industry insiders, and exclusive interviews with the victims families and friends, this book probes intriguing questions about the devastating blast that have remained unanswered for more than 40 years. From reports of a faulty reactor design and mismanagement of the reactors facilities to rumors of incompetent personnel and a failed love affair that prompted deliberate sabotage of the plant, these plausible explanations for the explosion raise questions about whether the truth was deliberately suppressed to protect the nuclear energy industry.
Was the world's first fatal nuclear accident — the 1961 explosion of a SL-1 military test reactor in Idaho — the result of a crime of passion? Was the disaster promptly covered up to protect the burgeoning nuclear industry? Idaho Falls documents one of America's best-kept secrets and investigates the question of conspiracy.
About the Author
William McKeown has been a reporter and editor at newspapers in Idaho, California, and Colorado. His work has been recognized by the Associated Press, the Colorado Press Association, and the Best of the West journalism competition. He lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Table of Contents
Nuclear apprenticeship — Atomic energy meets the Cold War — "There must be something wrong at SL-1" — Wayward atoms — "Caution: radioactive materials" — Accident aftermath — Murder-suicide? — Nuclear legacy.
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