The History of Nuclear Energy in the US

  • The Atomic Energy Commission is Created

    The Atomic Energy Commission is Created
    After the conclusion of World War II, the US sought to discover peaceful means of using nuclear energy and created the Atomic Energy Commission.
    In 1974, Congress would put an end to the AEC and split up its duties between the Energy Research and Development Administration and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Source: The History of Nuclear Energy
  • AEC Chooses Idaho for Reactor Testing

    AEC Chooses Idaho for Reactor Testing
    The AEC chooses a site in Idaho for its National Reactor Testing Station.
    A reactor yields the first electricity from nuclear energy more than two and a half years later in Arco, Idaho.
    The energy is enough to light four light bulbs.
    Arco would later become the first town to be powered by a nuclear powerplant. Source: The History of Nuclear Energy
  • Eisenhower Gives "Atoms for Peace" Speech

    Eisenhower Gives "Atoms for Peace" Speech
    President Dwight D. Eisenhower delivers his "Atoms for Peace" speech before the United Nations. He calls for greater international cooperation in the development of atomic energy for peaceful purposes. Source: The History of Nuclear Energy
  • Eisenhower Signs the Atomic Energy Act of 1954

    Eisenhower Signs the Atomic Energy Act of 1954
    President Eisenhower signs the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, the first major amendment of the original Atomic Energy Act, giving the civilian nuclear power program futher access to nuclear technology. Source: The History of Nuclear Energy
  • First Power from Civilian Nuclear Unit

    First Power from Civilian Nuclear Unit
    The first power from a civilian nuclear unit is generated by the Sodium Reactor Experiment at Santa Susana, California. The unit provided power until 1966. Source: The History of Nuclear Energy
  • The Country's First Commercial Power Plant

    The Country's First Commercial Power Plant
    The nation's first commercial power plant in Shippingport, Pennsylvania starts producing energy for nearby Pittsburgh. Source: The History of Nuclear Energy
  • First US Plant Built Without Government Funds

    First US Plant Built Without Government Funds
    Dresden-1 Nuclear Power Station in Illinois, the first U.S. nuclear plant built entirely without government funding, achieves a self-sustaining nuclear reaction. Source: The History of Nuclear Energy
  • Third US Powerplant Achieves Reaction

    Third US Powerplant Achieves Reaction
    The third U.S. nuclear powerplant, Yankee Rowe Nuclear Power Station, achieves a self-sustaining nuclear reacton. Source: The History of Nuclear Energy
  • Plant Ordered as Alternative to Fossil-Fuel Energy.

    Plant Ordered as Alternative to Fossil-Fuel Energy.
    Jersey Central Power and Light Company announces its commitment to the Oyster Creek nuclear powerplant, the first time a nuclear plant is ordered as an economic alternative to a fossil-fuel plant. Source: The History of Nuclear Energy
  • First Nuclear Reactor in Space

    First Nuclear Reactor in Space
    The first nuclear reactor in space (SNAP-10A) is launched by the United States. SNAP stands for Systems for Nuclear Auxiliary Power. Source: The History of Nuclear Energy
  • San Onofre Begins Commercial Production

    San Onofre Begins Commercial Production
    San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, located on California's coast between Los Angeles and San Diego, starts producing energy commercially from Unit 1. That unit is almost completely decommissioned, and San Onofre continues operation out of Units 2 and 3.
  • Treaty for Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons

    Treaty for Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
    The United States, United Kingdom, Soviet Union, and 45 other nations ratify the Treaty for Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Source: The History of Nuclear Energy
  • Energy Reorganization Act of 1974

    Energy Reorganization Act of 1974
    The Energy Reorganization Act of 1974 divides AEC functions between two new agencies — the Energy Research and Development Administration (ERDA), to carry out research and development, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), to regulate nuclear power. Source: The History of Nuclear Energy
  • SMUD Brings on Rancho Seco

    SMUD Brings on Rancho Seco
    The Sacramento Municipal Utility District's Rancho Seco Nuclear Generating station begins commercial production.
    The plant has a capacity of 913 megawatts of power.
  • Carter Defers Plans to Reprocess Fuel

    Carter Defers Plans to Reprocess Fuel
    President Jimmy Carter announces the United States will defer indefinitely plans for reprocessing spent nuclear fuel. Source: The History of Nuclear Energy
  • Carter Signs DOE Organization Act

    Carter Signs DOE Organization Act
    President Carter signs the Department of Energy Organization Act, which transfers ERDA functions to the new Department of Energy (DOE). Source: The History of Nuclear Energy
  • Report Forces End to New California Plants

    Report Forces End to New California Plants
    Legislation ordered the California Energy Commission to do an investigation to evaluate whether it was possible to reprocess fuel rods or safely discpose of nuclear waste. The commission could not find a satisfactory process, and new nuclear facilities were banned in California.
  • The Three Mile Island Accident

    The Three Mile Island Accident
    This accident, the worst of its kind in the US, heightened fears about nuclear energy and spurred reforms.
  • After Accident, Program Makes Strides in Safety

    After Accident, Program Makes Strides in Safety
    DOE initiates the Three Mile Island research and development program to develop technology for disassembling and de-fueling the damaged reactor. The program will continue for 10 years and make significant advances in developing new nuclear safety technology. Source: The History of Nuclear Energy
  • Shippingport Shuts Down

    Shippingport Shuts Down
    After 25 years of service, the Shippingport Power Station is shut down. Decommissioning would be completed in 1989. Source: The History of Nuclear Energy
  • NWPA Starts Ball Rolling on Waste Storage

    NWPA Starts Ball Rolling on Waste Storage
    The Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA) establishes a program to site a repository for the disposal of high-level radioactive waste, including spent fuel from nuclear powerplants. It also establishes fees for owners and generators of radioactive waste and spent fuel, who pay the costs of the program. Source: The History of Nuclear Energy
  • California's Diablo Canyon Comes Online.

    California's Diablo Canyon Comes Online.
    California's Diablo Canyon Power Plant comes online, despite concerns over the plant's ability to whithstand seismic activity. Pacific Gas & Electric, the company that owns the plant, claims that it is "one of the strongest structures on the face of the earth."
  • Yucca Mountain Studied for Waste Storage

    Yucca Mountain Studied for Waste Storage
    The Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA) is amended. Congress directs DOE to study only the potential of the Yucca Mountain, Nevada, site for disposal of high-level radioactive waste. Source: The History of Nuclear Energy
  • Rancho Seco Closes after Public Vote

    Rancho Seco Closes after Public Vote
    After a public referendum, SMUD decides to shut down Rancho Seco. The site was supposed to be completely decommissioned by 2008. But because there isn't a proper disposal option, some radioactive material remains at the site.
  • Senate Approves Yucca Mountain Development

    Senate Approves Yucca Mountain Development
    The US Senate gives the go-ahead to develop Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository. The Department of Energy is currently waiting for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to approve the construction of the site. That could take up to four years.
  • Obama Cuts Funding for Yucca Mountain Project

    Obama Cuts Funding for Yucca Mountain Project
    Obama releases an overview of his budget for Fiscal Year 2010, in which he cuts out nearly all funding for a permanent storage facility for nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain.
    The administration has since said that it plans to look for other options beyond Yucca Mountain.