Factors affecting the choice of plant site

July 25, 1945

June 8, 1942

To: Mr. T. V. Moore

From: A. H. Compton

In Re: Factors affecting the choice of plant site.

The outline of the factors affecting the choice of a plant site which you have handed me seems to give a very satisfactory picture of the present situation. The procedure which you suggest with regard to the mechanics for selecting the site seems also to me to be suitable.

It would seem evident that when our report is complete, suitable sites will be found available in. either the Chicago area or the Tennessee Valley. In order to select the general area in which the plant should be located, would it not then be appropriate for us to prepare a statement of the facilities, advantages and disadvantages, etc., with regard to each of the two locations, having in mind specifically one or two of the specific sites that seems most suitable in each area and present such a summary as a basis for prompt selection of the general area? Such a memorandum might go first to Murphree and after discussion with him, to Conant, Briggs and Bush. I shall prepare a discussion of some of these points within the next day or two.

Perhaps some immediate comments with regard to the specific points brought up in your memorandum may, however, be in order. (1) Your argument with regard to the need for placing the pilot plant and the production plant on the same site seems sound. I would point out also that since for the duration of the war the production will necessarily be not far removed from the experimental stage, it is important that the production plant be not too far geographically from the research laboratory. This means that whatever site is selected, the central research laboratory should be within easy driving distance.

(2) Your figure of 1,000,000 kilowatts as the objective is reasonable. It is by no means impossible that the production will need to go on a considerably larger scale. If, however, this is to be done it will probably mean the multiplication of plants following a pattern already established. Such plants would not necessarily be located immediately adjacent to the original site. For purposes of efficiency, close proximity would probably be preferable. It might, however, in the interest of avoiding sabotage or destruction, be preferable to have the other site widely removed.

My own rough calculation indicates that it might be possible to get along with considerably less than the amount of water indicated as your probable water requirements, and that your maximum requirement is indeed ample. I would not, however, suggest any change in your statement.

It is difficult for me to see how, even for a 1,000,000 kilowatt plant, as much as 70,000 kilowatts could be used for auxiliary power. I should prefer to put a figure not over 30,000 kilowatts and develop the design of the plant with this in mind. The lower power consumption might involve a larger plant, but this should be possible.

As we were remarking yesterday, in order to handle the personnel required for such a plant at a site necessarily removed at some distance from cities, it will probably be desirable to make some provision for housing. Should land suitable for this purpose be included in our estimate of the area required?

I shall follow this with a further memorandum discussing the points you raised with regard to the relative advantages of the Tennessee Valley and the Chicago area.

Would you be good enough to let me have a copy of this memorandum which I am returning? I should like the privilege of discussing it with some of the other men. Perhaps you would like to take it up with your Engineering Council, if so, I would suggest that you include Szilard in the discussion.