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The INEEL is a nuclear energy research and environmental management facility. It is owned and administered by the U.S. Department of Energy, Idaho Operations Office (DOE-ID) and occupies about 890 mi2 (2,300 km2) of the upper Snake River Plain in Southeastern Idaho. The history of the INEEL began during World War II when the U.S. Naval Ordnance Station was located in Pocatello, Idaho. This station, one of two such installations in the U.S., retooled large guns from U.S. Navy warships. The retooled guns were tested on the nearby, uninhabited plain, known as the Naval Proving Ground. In the years following the war, as the nation worked to develop nuclear power, the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), predecessor to the DOE, became interested in the Naval Proving Ground and made plans for a facility to build, test, and perfect nuclear power reactors.
The Naval Proving Ground became the National Reactor Testing
Station (NRTS) in 1949, under the AEC. By the end of 1951, a reactor at the NRTS
became the first to produce useful amounts of electricity. Over time the site
evolved into an assembly of 52 reactors, associated research centers, and waste
handling areas. The NRTS was renamed the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory (INEL)
in 1974 and the INEEL in January 1997. With renewed interest in nuclear power
the DOE announced in 2002 that Argonne National Laboratory and the INEEL will be
the lead laboratories for development of the next generation of power reactors.
Other activities at the INEEL include environmental cleanup, subsurface
research, and technology development.
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