by Kevin Hughes
on Monday, June 20th, 2011 at 9:43am.
Idaho is on top of things with nuclear energy. Although there are no commercial power producing nuclear plants in Idaho, there is one premier nuclear labs near Idaho Falls, the Idaho National Laboratory, which is in four Idaho counties west of Idaho Falls. The laboratories cover over 800 square miles of high desert, almost three times the size of New York City. The land is relatively flat, looks barren and is at an altitude of about 5,000 feet. There are a couple of roads through the laboratory, but the vast majority of the area is restricted to authorized personnel with security clearances. For any those who will work at the facility, the availability of Idaho real estate, particularly Idaho Falls real estate, will provide a variety of homes to choose from.
Established in 1949 as a laboratory for the development of peaceful nuclear power, the laboratory has been the most important location for the testing and development of peaceful nuclear reactors. The reactors at “the site” were the first to produce useful electricity from nuclear power and helped design the nuclear reactors that powered the first nuclear submarines. Most of what the world knows about the generation of peaceful nuclear power was learned or developed at the Idaho National Laboratory. The reactors at the lab represent the largest concentration of reactors in the world. There have been over 50 one of a kind reactors to test their potential for the production of energy. All but three of those have been de-commissioned and are no longer in day-to-day operation.
There are currently over 4,000 personnel working at the laboratory in a wide variety of operations related to the operation and safety of nuclear plants. Some of those projects include:
· Projects to design the next generation of nuclear plants, research into the fuel and the desire to completely remove all possibly energy from the spent material before storing and researching the potential to extend the life of existing nuclear plants.
· An advanced test reactor facility that supports basic research and provides a location for experimentation for graduate students and associated faculty members from across the US.
· Projects related to cyber security, including a report that the worm created to disable Iran’s nuclear program (the Stuxnet worm) was created in concert with the Idaho National Lab.
· Help develop increased awareness of nuclear non-proliferation, including the use of the empty expanses of the lab grounds for first responders, police and military personnel.
· A project to assist in the disposal of nuclear waste is the first to be conducted an economic scale and is being used to clean up some of the old reactor sites.
As a major employer in Eastern Idaho, the Idaho National Laboratory is on the cutting edge of nuclear reactor technology in the US and will continue to provide a base of employment for the foreseeable future. Anyone potentially moving to the area will need housing, including Idaho Falls homes and Arco real estate.