The Idaho National Laboratory (INL), an 890-square-mile section of desert in southeast Idaho, was established in 1949 as the National Reactor Testing Station. Initial missions were the development of civilian and defense nuclear reactor technologies and management of spent nuclear fuel. Fifty-two reactors—most of them first-of-a-kind—were built. Although most are decommissioned, they remain the largest concentration of reactors in the world. These included the first reactor to generate usable amounts of electricity to power a community, and the Navy’s prototype nuclear propulsion plant for the USS Nautilus, the first nuclear-powered submarine.
The name changed over the years: 1974, Idaho National Engineering Laboratory to encompass broader research missions; 1997, Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory, to reflect growing cleanup and waste management missions and research; 2005 the INEEL merged with Argonne National Laboratory West and became the Idaho National Laboratory.
At this time two contracts were given to the environmental cleanup, Idaho Cleanup Project, and Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project. All research activities were consolidated under the INL.
Currently the nation’s lead laboratory for advanced nuclear energy research, development, demonstration, and deployment, the Lab is engaged in the mission of ensuring the nation’s energy security with safe, competitive, and sustainable energy systems and unique national and homeland security capabilities.
INL is leading the initiatives to develop next-generation reactor technologies, advanced fuel cycles, and space nuclear power systems and is home to the world’s premier materials test reactor – the Advanced Test Reactor – and its national scientific user facility.