August 30, 2009
Last evening we prepared the MH for launch, but before leaving this morning we had to do one last hike on the Tree Mold Trail a 2 - mile loop trail through lava fields. Once again the scenery was breathtaking and the tree molds very interesting.
We stopped at the
Idaho Science Center in Arco where they have the “Hawkbill” Idaho’s submarine in the desert. We met and were fortunate enough to have a tour of the facility, that is a work in progress, with Clay Condit a physicist who worked on and developed the technology for the first atomic submarine. Interestingly, the development of nuclear submarines was done out in the deserts of Idaho. Clay was very informative and brought life to the history of the beginnings of nuclear power when politicians and environmentalist were not involved in the decision- making. Clay told us that he spent some time traveling around the country as a young man and had met Korczak, the man who sculptured Crazy Horse. He was invited to stay with Korczak and his family and was offered a job working the on sculpture. He declined but returns to Crazy Horse regularly to monitor its progress.
After spending an hour or so with Clay we stopped at the EBR-I or Experimental Breeder Reactor-I. On December 20, 1951, EBR-I became the first nuclear power plant to produce usable electricity using atomic energy. After that day and until decommissioning in 1964, EBR-I generated enough electricity to supply all the power for its own building whenever the reactor operated. The goal of EBR-I was to prove that Nuclear power was a good source for electricity.
We had a tour of the facility with a nice young woman named Marty, who explained the functioning of the plant and how in the 50’s the people working in the building were really unaware of safety issues and dangers they would encounter should they be exposed to radiation.
Sadly, other reactors in the country have been closed and only one is currently in use. We have fallen behind in trying to find alternatives for energy. Both China and France use 80% of atomic energy for there electricity needs while the U.S. only uses 20%. Both countries are way ahead of us in the technology used for atomic power and we have fallen to the back of the line due to politics. What a shame. The U.S. was once a leader in this type of technology and is now lagging behind.
We stopped at the Montpelier, Idaho KOA for the evening. Ron had a good Internet connection so was able to get the last few days of the blog posted. I, of course, caught up on laundry.