Crossroads of Peace
With the world no longer at war, nuclear research moves out of military control into civilian management. Nuclear weapons testing proliferates at the same time as developments are made in medical applications and the generation of atomic energy.
President Harry S. Truman signed the Atomic Energy Act into law. The Act transferred nuclear research and development from the Army to civilian control under the Atomic Energy Commission. The nuclear research and production facilities of the Manhattan Project transferred to the AEC on January 1, 1947.
An experimental reactor in near Arco, Idaho, produced the first electricity from nuclear energy. The reactor, designed and built at Argonne National Laboratory and known as Experimental Breeder Reactor I, generated enough electricity to light four light bulbs.
Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory successfully operated an experimental homogeneous reactor to generate one megawatt of power.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower delivered his “Atoms for Peace” speech before the United Nations General Assembly. Eisenhower proposed an international agency to promote peaceful applications of nuclear energy and the loan of enriched uranium for peaceful applications to non-nuclear countries.
The first large-scale commercial nuclear power plant in the U.S. went online in Shippingport, Pennsylvania, 25 miles northwest of Pittsburgh. The plant utilized a pressurized light water reactor originally designed for the navy’s first nuclear submarines.