INL is a nuclear energy research and environmental management
facility, owned and administered by the U.S. Department of Energy, Idaho
Operations Office (DOE-ID). It
occupies about 2,300 km2 (890 mi2) of the upper
Snake River Plain in Southeastern Idaho.
The history of the INL 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 ships. The facility tested the retooled guns
on the nearby-uninhabited plain, known as the Naval Proving Ground.
In the aftermath of 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 developed 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 electricity. The facility evolved into an assembly of 52 reactors, associated research centers, and waste handling areas. The NRTS was renamed the Idaho National Laboratory in 1974 and Idaho National Laboratory in January 1997. Activities at the INL center on environmental cleanup and research and development.