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We Almost Lost Detroit

Fuller, John G.

82 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0883490706 / ISBN 13: 9780883490709
Published by Reader's Digest Press, New York, 1975
Condition: Very good Hardcover
From Ground Zero Books, Ltd. (Silver Spring, MD, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

ix, [3], 272, [4] Pages. Illustrations. Bibliography. Index. Minor soiling and wear to DJ. Pencil erasure residue on fep. Sticker residue on DJ front flap. Ink mark on fore-edge. John Grant Fuller, Jr. (November 30, 1913 - November 7, 1990) was a New England-based American author of several non-fiction books and newspaper articles, mainly focusing on the theme of extra-terrestrials and the supernatural. For many years he wrote a regular column for the Saturday Review magazine, called "Trade Winds". His books include We Almost Lost Detroit, The Ghost of Flight 401, Incident at Exeter, and The Interrupted Journey. His book We Almost Lost Detroit (1975) deals with a serious accident at the Fermi nuclear power plant near Detroit. The book title was later the title of a song by Gil Scott-Heron on the No Nukes live album recorded by the Musicians United for Safe Energy. The author uses the 1966 accident inside the Enrico Fermi atomic reactor near Detroit as a vehicle to discuss the significance of the entire nuclear power industry, both in the United States and abroad. Presents a history of Fermi 1, America's first commercial breeder reactor, with emphasis on the 1966 partial nuclear meltdown. It was republished in 1984. It took four years for the reactor to be repaired, and then performance was poor. In 1972, the reactor core was dismantled and the reactor was decommissioned. America's first effort at operating a full-scale breeder had failed. The 69 MWe prototype fast breeder reactor Fermi 1 unit was under construction and development at the site from 1956 to 1963. Initial criticality was achieved on August 23, 1963. On October 5, 1966 Fermi 1 suffered a partial fuel meltdown. Two of the 92 fuel assemblies were partially damaged. According to the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, there was no abnormal radioactivity released to the environment. Fermi 1 was a liquid metal (sodium) cooled fast breeder reactor design. It was capable of producing 200 megawatts thermal (MWt) power or 69 MW electrical power with 26% enriched metallic uranium fuel. The enriched uranium section of the reactor (core) was a 30 inch in diameter cylinder by 30 inches high and contained 92 fuel assemblies. The core was surrounded by 548 additional assemblies containing depleted uranium. These assemblies were about 2.5 inches square by about 8 feet tall. Only the core section contained the enriched uranium while depleted uranium was placed above and below within the assemblies. The core also contained 2 control rods and 8 safety rods. The main cause of the partial meltdown was due to a temperature increase caused by a blockage in one of the lower support plate orifices that allowed the flow of liquid sodium into the reactor. The blockage caused an insufficient amount of coolant to enter the fuel assembly; this was not noticed by the operators until the core temperature alarms sounded. Several fuel rod subassemblies reached high temperatures of around 700 F (370 C) (with an expected range near 580 F, 304 C), causing them to melt. Following an extended shutdown that involved fuel replacement, repairs to vessel, and cleanup, Fermi 1 restarted in July 1970 and reached full power. Due of lack of funds and aging equipment it was finally shut down permanently on November 27, 1972, and was officially decommissioned December 31, 1975 under the definition of the Atomic Energy Commission. A number of accounts of the accident are available. One book is Fermi-1 New Age for Nuclear Power and published by the American Nuclear Society in 1979. A book, We Almost Lost Detroit, was written by local Detroit newsman John Grant Fuller (subtitled "This Is Not A Novel" to point out that it was not a work of fiction). Bookseller Inventory # 73174

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Bibliographic Details

Title: We Almost Lost Detroit

Publisher: Reader's Digest Press, New York

Publication Date: 1975

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: Very good

Dust Jacket Condition: Good

Edition: First Printing [stated].

About this title


A valuable contribution to the debate over nuclear power, this book documents the Fermi accident that so frightened the AEC and nuclear industry that they did not want the details and significance leaked to the public. At the time of the publication of this book, many critics of nuclear power were demanding to know all the pertinent information regarding the safety of nuclear reactors.

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Founded and operated by trained historians, Ground Zero Books, Ltd., serves the book collector, the scholar, and institutions. We focus on the individual, and pride ourselves on our personal service. Please contact us with your wants, as we have many books not yet listed in our database.

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