Sodium Reactor Experiment - Overview

Sodium Reactor Experiment, suffered worst partial meltdown in American history in 1959 releasing hundreds of times more radiation than Three Mile Island in 1979.

Meltdown photos

1959 meltdown of Sodium Reactor Experiment. Several of photos were taken by worker John Pace who is also seen in many of the images. Pace survived.

Sodium Reactor Experiment 2 - Construction

Excavations then building of reactor's superstructure in 1955. Walls of SRE's "High Bay" are not built for radiation leaks like newer fortified reactors.

Sodium Reactor Experiment 3 - Construction

Extensive sodium coolant tubing, chemical toluene reservoir, which leaked together turning coolant to goo causing meltdown.

Sodium Reactor Experiment 4 - Construction

Miles of tubing went into SRE construction which failed to be robust enough to contain radiation during 1959 meltdown.

Sodium Reactor Experiment 5 - Demolition

Beginning of dismantling SRE. One figure shows a suspected area of contamination under and adjacent the reactor core.

Sodium Reactor Experiment 6 - Demolition

Workers tear out re-bar and foundations of reactor without respirators on to protect against breathing in radioactive particles from pulverized concrete and surrounding dirt.

Sodium Reactor Experiment 7 - Demolition

Workers aren't even donning little caps to keep radioactive dust out of their hair. Last image shows SRE as an empty hulk. Michael Collins was last reporter to enter SRE in early 1998 for Los Angeles magazine.