Skip to main content
Back to Results
Cover image of Supplying the Nuclear Arsenal
Cover image of Supplying the Nuclear Arsenal
Share this Title:

Supplying the Nuclear Arsenal

American Production Reactors, 1942-1992

Rodney P. Carlisle
with Joan M. Zenzen

Publication Date
Binding Type
Request Exam CopyRequest Review Copy

Originally published in 1996. Although the history of commercial-power nuclear reactors is well known, the story of the government reactors that produce weapons-grade plutonium and tritium has been shrouded in secrecy. Supplying the Nuclear Arsenal looks at the origin and development of these production reactors, Rodney Carlisle and Joan Zenzen describe a fifty-year government effort no less complex, expensive, and technologically demanding than the Polaris or Apollo programs—yet one about which most Americans know virtually nothing.

Carlisle and Zenzen describe the evolution of the early…

Originally published in 1996. Although the history of commercial-power nuclear reactors is well known, the story of the government reactors that produce weapons-grade plutonium and tritium has been shrouded in secrecy. Supplying the Nuclear Arsenal looks at the origin and development of these production reactors, Rodney Carlisle and Joan Zenzen describe a fifty-year government effort no less complex, expensive, and technologically demanding than the Polaris or Apollo programs—yet one about which most Americans know virtually nothing.

Carlisle and Zenzen describe the evolution of the early reactors, the atomic weapons establishment that surrounded them, and the sometimes bitter struggles between business and political constituencies for their share of "nuclear pork." They show how, since the 1980s, aging production reactors have increased the risk of radioactive contamination of the atmosphere and water table. And they describe how the Department of Energy mounted a massive effort to find the right design for a new generation of reactors, only to abandon that effort with the end of the Cold War. Today, all American production reactors remain closed.

Due to short half-life, the nation's supply of tritium, crucial to modern weapons, is rapidly dwindling. As countries like Iraq and North Korea threaten to join the nuclear club, the authors contend, the United States needs to revitalize tritium production capacity in order to maintain a viable nuclear deterrent. Meanwhile, as slowly decaying artifacts of the Cold War, the closed production reactors at Hanford, Washington, and Savannah River, South Carolina, loom ominously over the landscape.

Jump to
Quick Add
Supplying the Nuclear Arsenal

Rodney P. Carlisle
with Joan M. Zenzen

Publication Date
Binding Type
Request Exam CopyRequest Review Copy
Related

Related Books

Preorder
Cover image of Replayed
Replayed

Henry Lowood
edited by Raiford Guins
with a foreword by Matthew G. Kirschenbaum and an interview by T. L. Taylor

$50.00
Quick Add
Replayed

Henry Lowood
edited by Raiford Guins
with a foreword by Matthew G. Kirschenbaum and an interview by T. L. Taylor

Publication Date: June 6, 2023
Binding Type
Preorder
Cover image of Making Machines of Animals
Making Machines of Animals

Neal A. Knapp

$60.00
Quick Add
Making Machines of Animals

Neal A. Knapp

Publication Date: May 9, 2023
Binding Type
Preorder
Cover image of A Centaur in London
A Centaur in London

Fabian Kraemer

$60.00
Quick Add
A Centaur in London

Fabian Kraemer

Publication Date: April 25, 2023
Binding Type
Preorder
Cover image of The Interlopers
The Interlopers

Vera Keller

$60.00
Quick Add
The Interlopers

Vera Keller

Publication Date: April 18, 2023
Binding Type
Preorder
Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture

edited by David A. Brewer and Crystal B. Lake

Volume
Volume 52
$50.00
Quick Add
Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture

edited by David A. Brewer and Crystal B. Lake

Volume
Volume 52
Publication Date: April 11, 2023
Binding Type
Reviews

Reviews

Carlisle and Zenzen trace the history, the pork-barrel tussles between businesses and political constituencies, and the massive technological and financial investment. They also point out that the now aging reactors are becoming ever more liable to failure and accident, and that though all the plants are closed now, the nuclear fuel is decaying toward its half-life and will need to be replenished if the U.S. is to remain the toughest kid on the block.

About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
298
ISBN
9781421435909
Illustration Description
12 b&w illus.
Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Tables and Figures
Preface
List of Abbreviations and Acronyms
Introduction
1. Inventing Atomic Piles
2. Building Reactors at Hanford
3. Contracting Atoms
4. Flexible Design

List of Illustrations
List of Tables and Figures
Preface
List of Abbreviations and Acronyms
Introduction
1. Inventing Atomic Piles
2. Building Reactors at Hanford
3. Contracting Atoms
4. Flexible Design at Savannah River
5. The Arms Race Arsenal
6. Designing a Reactor for Peace and War
7. Surviving Detente
8. Lobbying for Nuclear Pork
9. Managing Nuclear Options
Conclusion: Supplying the Cold War Arsenal
Appendix: Production Reactor Families
Notes
Bibliographic Essay
Index

Author Bios
Featured Contributor

Rodney P. Carlisle

Rodney P. Carlisle Rodney Carlisle is a professor emeritus of history at Rutgers University. He was a founding member of History Associates. He is also the author of Where the Fleet Begins: A History of the David Taylor Research Center, 1899–1987 and the editor of Encyclopedia of the Atomic Age.