By Keith Gunter

Before Fukushima, before Chernobyl, before Three Mile Island, there is the legendary story of Fermi-1: “We Almost Lost Detroit.” It was the title of the popular nuclear power primer by John Fuller and the classic and famous anti-nuclear anthem by the late Gil-Scott Heron.

On October 5, 1966, the Fermi-1 experimental fast breeder reactor (designed to produce plutonium) suffered a partial meltdown when a piece of zirconium plating became dislodged by the flow of the reactor’s liquid sodium coolant. The melting of the highly-enriched uranium fuel was an extremely precarious situation and it would be nearly nine years before the harrowing story would be made public in Fuller’s account. Continue reading “FERMI-1 AT 50: ACCIDENTS WILL HAPPEN”