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Who said: “Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.”
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P. O. BOX 59, Lemont, Illinois

Telephone: Lemont 800 (Argonne) Ext. 558-559
August 11, 1955
FOR RELEASE: Friday, 9:00 a.m., D.D.T. August 12, 1955

Idaho Town Gets Atomic Power and Light
in Nuclear Power Demonstration

Electricity, produced from nuclear energy, has been used to light and power a town in the United States.

Photo of building with sign over door “Arco Idaho First City in the World to be Lit by Atomic Power Elevation 5320 feet”
The city of Arco, Idaho was the first in the world to receive all of its electricity from a nuclear power plant. (source)

Arco, Idaho, became the first community in the Nation to receive its entire supply of power from a nuclear source when, on July 17,1955, electricity produced in an experimental nuclear power plant operated by Argonne National Laboratory at the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission's National Reator Testing Station, twenty miles from Arco, was fed into transmission lines supplying the small town.

Clipping from The Arco Advertiser newspaper Fri 12 Aug 1955 headlined “Arco First City in United States Lighted By Atomic Power”
Headline of the newspaper The Arco Advertiser for Friday, 12 August 1955. (source)

When the reactor power was cut in, utility lines supplying conventional power to Arco from the Utah Power and Light Company, were disconnected. The entire community of 1,200 inhabitants then depended solely on nuclear power for more than an hour.

Photo of trailer-mounted mobile transformer connected to heavy electrical overhead cables. Man looks at meters on control panel
This temporary transformer was used to connect BORAX-III with the town of Arco, Idaho. (source)

Although the transmission of electricity from the nuclear power plant to Arco was, by prior arrangement, discontinued after the demonstration had been completed, the generation of electricity at the testing station site was continued.

A motion picture record of the demonstration was presented to the United Nations today at the International Conference on Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy, at Geneva, Switzerland. The United States delegation plans to make the film available during the Conference and to representatives of 72 nations in attendance.

Photo of the Borax-III reactor building with several associated buildings surrounded open ground
The BORAX-III reactor was the first reactor in the world to provide all of the electricity to an entire town. (source)

The experimental nuclear power plant, known as “BORAX,” short for “Boiling Reactor Experiment,” was the subject of a major technical paper presented to the Conference August 9 by Dr. Walter H. Zinn, Director of Argonne National Laboratory. The plant, which generates more than 2,000 kilowatts of electricity, was designed and constructed by the Laboratory. Harold V. Lichtenberger, who is a U. S. technical advisor at Geneva, is Director of the Laboratory's activities at the testing station.

The reactor for the nuclear power plant has been under development by the Laboratory since 1953. An experimental facility for conducting studies of a reactor of this type was constructed at the testing station site in the summer of 1953 and tests on safety and steady state operating characteristics were conducted. The tests were sufficiently encouraging so that additional studies were made in the summer of 1954.

Experience gained during the operation of this reactor warranted the addition of a turbo-generator so that the steam being produced could be converted into a more usable form of energy. This generation plant was placed into operation on June 28, 1955, and the production of electricity is continuing on a routine basis.

The reactor consists of a pressure vessel containing as assemblage of enriched uranium-bearing plates submerged in water, plus a number of neutron-absorbing control rods. The water circulates through the reactor core by natural convection. Steam, produced by the heat created by the fissioning of uranium atoms, is conducted to the 3,500 kilowatt turbo-generator, located in a nearby building.

The simplicity of construction, ease of operation, low cost, and high degree of safety suggest the possibility that this type of small power plant may be suitable for the use in remote areas or in conjuction with mining or manufacturing operations.

Archive images not part of original text of U.S. Atomic Energy Commmission (AEC) Press Release (12 Aug 1955). (source)

Nature bears long with those who wrong her. She is patient under abuse. But when abuse has gone too far, when the time of reckoning finally comes, she is equally slow to be appeased and to turn away her wrath. (1882) -- Nathaniel Egleston, who was writing then about deforestation, but speaks equally well about the danger of climate change today.
Carl Sagan Thumbnail Carl Sagan: In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) ...(more by Sagan)

Albert Einstein: I used to wonder how it comes about that the electron is negative. Negative-positive—these are perfectly symmetric in physics. There is no reason whatever to prefer one to the other. Then why is the electron negative? I thought about this for a long time and at last all I could think was “It won the fight!” ...(more by Einstein)

Richard Feynman: It is the facts that matter, not the proofs. Physics can progress without the proofs, but we can't go on without the facts ... if the facts are right, then the proofs are a matter of playing around with the algebra correctly. ...(more by Feynman)
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