Angela N. H. Creager

in Life Atomic

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2013 | ISBN: 9780226017808
Published online January 2014 | e-ISBN: 9780226017945 | DOI:

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Leaders in the Manhattan Project laid the groundwork for the government’s mass-production of radioisotopes during the war. The U.S. Army constructed the Oak Ridge reactor as a pilot plant for the Hanford plutonium-producing reactors, and its postwar fate was uncertain. Scientists wanted to dedicate it to radioisotope production for external users with the dual aims of to benefiting civilian science and justifying a national laboratory in Tennessee. This chapter covers the establishment of the civilian agency (the AEC), the launching of radioisotope distribution—still under the auspices of the Manhattan Project until Jan. 1, 1947—and the U.S. government’s public relations efforts that were staged around the early shipments. It tracks isotope production at Oak Ridge through early postwar period, which supplied stable and radioactive isotopes, as well as irradiation services, to civilian scientists and physicians. The same reactor was producing radioisotopes for sale and materials for radiological warfare experiments and other classified research projects, showing the overlap between the AEC’s civilian and military activities.

Keywords: Manhattan Project; Manhattan Engineer District; Reactor; Oak Ridge

Chapter.  17863 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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