National Geographic : 1958 Sep
Men in Surgical Whites Take Geiger Readings Above a Domed Reactor Fueled last December at Ship pingport, Pennsylvania, the reactor's natural uranium will last through 1960; its en riched uranium elements will be replaced as they become exhausted. When a fuel ele ment is removed, technicians unbolt the reactor's steel dome, and the crane hauls away the deadly element for a safety bath in pool behind men. The plant feeds 60,000 kilowatts into the Pittsburgh area. Pittsburgh's Golden Triangle glows with peaceful atomic energy. Electricity from the Shippingport reactor flows into a grid of coal-generated power; so it alone lights no single building. On a shopping night the triangle requires 90,000 kilowatts; Shippingport could supply two-thirds of that load. A Beaker of Liquid Equals a Thousand Tons of Coal To power an experimental installation generating 300 kilowatts of elec tricity, Oak Ridge National Laboratory uses uranyl sulfate dissolved in heavy water, replacing costly solid fuel. Here engineer Richard Engel pours 500 cubic centimeters of fuel, containing 300 grams of uranium, into a reactor. Enough to replenish the system for two months, it does the work of 1,000 tons of coal. Before it fissions, uranium is only mildly radioactive. Gloves protect Mr. Engel's skin from toxic contact. 319 National Geographic Photographer B. Anthony Stewart © N.G.S.