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Encyclopedia > United States Atomic Energy Commission
Shield of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission.
Shield of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission.

Almost a year after World War II ended, Congress established the United States Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) to foster and control the peace time development of atomic science and technology. President Harry S. Truman signed the Atomic Energy Act (see McMahon Act) on August 1, 1946, transferring the control of atomic energy from military to civilian hands. This action reflected America's postwar optimism, with Congress declaring that atomic energy should be employed not only in the form of nuclear weapons for the nation's defense, but also to promote world peace, improve the public welfare and strengthen free competition in private enterprise. The signing was the culmination of long months of intensive debate among politicians, military planners and atomic scientists over the fate of this new energy source. Image File history File links Logo of the United States Atomic Energy Commission (1946-1974). ... Image File history File links Logo of the United States Atomic Energy Commission (1946-1974). ... Combatants Allies: Poland, British Commonwealth, France/Free France, Soviet Union, United States, China, and others Axis Powers: Germany, Italy, Japan, and others Casualties Military dead:17 million Civilian dead:33 million Total dead:50 million Military dead:8 million Civilian dead:4 million Total dead:12 million World War II... A congress is a gathering of people, especially a gathering for a political purpose. ... Harry S. Truman (May 8, 1884 – December 26, 1972) was the thirty-fourth Vice President (1945) and the thirty-third President of the United States (1945–1953), succeeding to the office upon the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt. ... The McMahon Act is an informal name for the Atomic Energy Act of 1946 which determined, in the wake of World War II how the United States government would control and manage the nuclear technology it had developed. ... August 1 is the 213th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (214th in leap years), with 152 days remaining. ... 1946 (MCMXLVI) was a common year starting on Tuesday. ... The mushroom cloud of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan, 1945, rose some 18 km (11 mi) above the hypocenter. ...


Congress gave the new civilian Commission extraordinary power and independence to carry out its mission. To provide the Commission exceptional freedom in hiring scientists and professionals, Commission employees were exempt from the Civil Service system. Because of the need for great security, all production facilities and nuclear reactors would be government-owned, while all technical information and research results would be under Commission control. The National Laboratory system was established from the facilities created under the Manhattan Project, and Argonne National Laboratory was one of the first laboratories authorized under this legislation as a contractor-operated facility dedicated to fulfilling the new Commission's mission. The United States Department of Energy National Laboratories are a system of research facilities and laboratories funded and controlled by the United States Department of Energy (DOE) for the purpose advancing science and aiding in the economic and defensive national interests of the United States of America. ... The Manhattan Project resulted in the development of the first nuclear weapons, and the first-ever nuclear detonation at the Trinity test of July 16, 1945. ... Argonne National Laboratory is one of the United States governments oldest and largest science and engineering research national laboratories and is the largest in the Midwest. ...


Before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) was created, nuclear regulation was the responsibility of the AEC, which Congress first established in the Atomic Energy Act of 1946. Eight years later, Congress replaced that law with the Atomic Energy Act Amendments of 1954, which for the first time made the development of commercial nuclear power possible. The act assigned the AEC the functions of both encouraging the use of nuclear power and regulating its safety. The AEC's regulatory programs sought to ensure public health and safety from the hazards of nuclear power without imposing excessive requirements that would inhibit the growth of the industry. This was a difficult goal to achieve, especially in a new industry, and within a short time the AEC's programs stirred considerable controversy. An increasing number of critics during the 1960s charged that the AEC's regulations were insufficiently rigorous in several important areas, including radiation protection standards, nuclear reactor safety, plant siting, and environmental protection. The NRC, or Nuclear Regulatory Commission, is a United States government agency that was established by the Energy Reorganization Act in 1974, and was first opened January 19, 1975. ... A nuclear power station. ... Nuclear safety is a term which underscores and understates the danger implicit in the use of nuclear materials, and may be used to describe measures taken to prevent nuclear and radiation accidents. ... Radiation has a variety of different meanings. ... Core of a nuclear reactor A nuclear power station. ...


By 1974, the AEC's regulatory programs had come under such strong attack that Congress decided to abolish the agency. Supporters and critics of nuclear power agreed that the promotional and regulatory duties of the AEC should be assigned to different agencies. The Energy Reorganization Act of 1974 put the regulatory functions of the AEC into the new NRC, which began operations on January 19, 1975; and placed the promotional functions within the Energy Research and Development Administration, which was later absorbed by the United States Department of Energy. The United States Department of Energy (DOE) is a Cabinet-level department of the United States government responsible for energy policy and nuclear safety. ...


See also

The United States Department of Energy (DOE) is a Cabinet-level department of the United States government responsible for energy policy and nuclear safety. ... Nuclear engineering is the practical application of the atomic nucleus gleaned from principles of nuclear physics and the interaction between radiation and matter. ... Nuclear physics is the branch of physics concerned with the nucleus of the atom. ... A nuclear power station. ... The Price-Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act (commonly called the Price-Anderson Act) is an act of the Congress of the United States. ... General Name, Symbol, Number uranium, U, 92 Chemical series actinides Group, Period, Block n/a, 7, f Appearance silvery gray metallic; corrodes to a spalling black oxide coat in air Atomic mass 238. ... General Name, Symbol, Number plutonium, Pu, 94 Chemical series actinides Group, Period, Block n/a, 7, f Appearance silvery white Atomic mass (244) g/mol Electron configuration [Rn] 5f6 7s2 Electrons per shell 2, 8, 18, 32, 24, 8, 2 Physical properties Phase solid Density (near r. ...

Further reading

  • Hewlett, Richard G., and Oscar E. Anderson. The New World, 1939-1946. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1962.
  • ________, and Francis Duncan. Atomic Shield, 1947-1952. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1969.
  • ________, and Jack M. Holl. Atoms for Peace and War, 1953-1961: Eisenhower and the Atomic Energy Commission. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989.

  Results from FactBites:
 
United States Atomic Energy Commission - Education - Information - Educational Resources - Encyclopedia - Music (721 words)
This action reflected America's postwar optimism, with Congress declaring that atomic energy should be employed not only in the form of nuclear weapons for the nation's defense, but also to promote world peace, improve the public welfare and strengthen free competition in private enterprise.
Before the NRC was created, nuclear regulation was the responsibility of the AEC, which Congress first established in the Atomic Energy Act of 1946 Eight years later, Congress replaced that law with the Atomic Energy Act Amendments of 1954, which for the first time made the development of commercial nuclear power possible.
The Energy Reorganization Act of 1974 put the regulatory functions of the AEC into the new Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which began operations on January 19, 1975; and placed the promotional functions within the Energy Research and Development Administration, which was later absorbed by the United States Department of Energy.
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