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FAS Intelligence Resource Program

Shippingport nuclear powerplant

Photo Date: ???
Photo Number: 113 051 001

The first large-scale nuclear powerplant in the world began operating in Shippingport, Pennsylvania, on December 2, 1957--exactly 15 years after Enrico Fermi demonstrated the first sustained nuclear reaction. The Duquesne Light Company of Pittsburgh built and operated the Shippingport plant on a site it owned on the Ohio River. The company also contributed to the cost of developing the government-owned reactor. Three years later, the Shippingport plant began supplying electricity to the Pittsburgh area. The Shippingport nuclear powerplant was retired in 1982. Congress assigned the decontamination and decommissioning of this commercial reactor to DOE. This was the first complete decontamination and decommissioning of a reactor in the United States. The reactor vessel was shipped to a low-level waste disposal facility at the Hanford Site in Richland, Washington. The reactor site was cleaned and released for unrestricted use in November 1987. Government officials proclaimed the seven-acre site is suitable for picnicking or for a children's playground.

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