Idaho Falls

Idaho Falls

The Untold Story of America's First Nuclear Accident

William McKeown


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The little-known true story of a mysterious nuclear reactor disaster—years before Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, or Fukushima.
Before the Three Mile Island incident or the Chernobyl disaster, the world’s first nuclear reactor meltdown to claim lives happened on US soil. Chronicled here for the first time is the strange tale of SL-1, an experimental military reactor located in Idaho’s Lost River Desert that exploded on the night of January 3, 1961, killing the three crewmembers on duty.
Through exclusive interviews with the victims’ families and friends, firsthand accounts from rescue workers and nuclear industry insiders, and extensive research into official documents, journalist William McKeown probes the many questions surrounding this devastating blast that have gone unanswered for decades.
From reports of faulty design and mismanagement to incompetent personnel and even rumors of sabotage after a failed love affair, these plausible explanations raise startling new questions about whether the truth was deliberately suppressed to protect the nuclear energy industry.