National Geographic : 1962 May
gerly on a table, and removed the protective plastic wrapping (page 717). Another crew member attached a long metal handling tool to the fuel element. Tool and element were then carefully lowered into the protective tank of water until the fuel dropped gently into position in the rack. As loading continued, crewmen reported to the control room by two-way loudspeaker. "Control, we are in loading sequence num ber 21. Inserting fuel element number 32-S into spent fuel lattice position 32." "Control, roger. Your BF-3 count rate is increasing slowly and variably: 60... 65... 70... 65 ... 70... 75 ... counts per second." The BF-3 count rate was in direct propor tion to the low rate of nu clear fission in the fuel stored inside the spent fuel rack. In an ill-designed rack, even spent fuel can resume a chain reaction. The low count from the new fuel proved that the design was sound. The test was a long proc ess. Not until 10:30 at night were all the fuel elements in place in the rack. Then be gan the second phase, under water transfer of fuel ele ments into the reactor core. There was one particular ly bad moment about 2:15 in the morning, when a tech nician spotted what seemed to be a dime on the reactor's stainless-steel core support structure. How it got there no one knew, and all attempts to dislodge it failed. After two agonizing hours, Jack McCool peered intently through the water and an nounced with a grin: "That's Barrack lights cast a wel come glow in a dark and frosty tunnel. Numbered plywood panels fit together so easily that Century's con struction crew put up a pre fabricated building a day. Each of these barracks in cludes a small lounge. no dime, it's an abrasion!" Everyone sighed. The structure, probably scratched in its long journey by ship and tractor train from the United States to Camp Century, was tough and durable. The mark was unimpor tant on a non-nuclear surface. Fueling recommenced. Finally at 4:55 a.m. -more than 18 hours after the job began the welcome message came from control. "We know you boys are dead tired, but there's something we want you to see. Put the cover on the core, and then come watch PM-2A go critical." We all went up to control and gathered around the instrument console (page 718). Methodically pushing a series of buttons, HS EKTACHROMEBY W. ROBERT MOORE, NATIONALGEOGRAPHIC STAFF © N.G.S.