Photographs of the worst nuclear reactor disaster in U.S. history that happened just outside of Los Angeles July 13-26, 1959. The top center photograph was taken by John Pace, an eyewitness to the Sodium Reactor Experiment meltdown.

“This is a picture of the men trying to unstick the second fuel rod that broke off in the reactor, Pace told “They are looking under the lead shield of the Fuel transporter trying to see where the broken fuel rod was stuck at. They are on top of the reactor getting radiation from the reactor core through the open fuel rod hole with the fuel rod half in and out of the reactor. You will see one man with a gas mask on and the other laying down looking under the lead safety shield with a flashlight and no gas mask breathing in all that radiation.

“This is why I took this picture; because of it being so dangerous. I used a company camera not mine to take this picture. I took this picture from the SRE control room through the window looking out in the High Bay area.”

25 Years of Award-Winning SSFL/Rocketdyne Reporting