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It was a very exciting time when the Chalk River plant melted down.

They let us get probably a thousand times more radiation than they would now. On December 12, 1952 some 200 km upstream from Ottawa, Canada the NRX research reactor at Chalk River Laboratories suffered a partial meltdown. The reactor underwent a violent power excursion that destroyed the core of the reactor, causing some fuel melting. Unaccountably, the shut-off rods failed to fully descend into the core. A series of hydrogen gas explosions (or steam explosions) hurled the four-ton gasholder dome four feet through the air where it jammed in the superstructure. Millions of liters of highly radioactive water flooded the building. A young U.S. Navy lieutenant by the name of James Earle Carter, Jr. was sent to assist in the damage control. As chief engineering office for the nuclear propulsion system being designed for the USS Seawolf (SSN 575) Carter, located in Schenectady, New York was the most qualified and closest member of the U.S. military at the time. "And one of the few people in the world with clearance to go into a nuclear power plant," as he remarked later. [more inside]
posted by three blind mice on Mar 29, 2013 - 12 comments

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