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Jimmy Carter risked his life to help save Ottawa by lowering himself into a melting nuclear reactor

On Thursday, the story of how then-Lt. Carter led a group of 23 people on a mission to save the capital city of Ottawa went viral.


Some have questioned whether or not this story, which sounded like something out of an old Captain America comic book, was real. It is. As Carter explained in his memoir, “The reactor core was below ground level and surrounded by intense radioactivity. Even with protective clothing, each of us would absorb the maximum permissible dose with just ninety seconds of exposure, so we had to make optimum use of this limited time. The limit on radiation absorption in the early 1950s was approximately one thousand times higher than it is sixty years later.”

Carter and his team were a part of the group of people who needed to clean and fully shut down the reactor. The short amount of time Carter and his team could spend at any stretch meant they needed to be precise. They first created an exact replica of the reactor in a parking lot nearby to practice cleaning and repairing it.

”And finally when we went down into the reactor itself, which was extremely radioactive, then we would dash in there as quickly as we could and take off as many bolts as we could, the same bolts we had just been practicing on. Each time our men managed to remove a bolt or fitting from the core, the equivalent piece was removed on the mock-up.”

His urine reportedly had traces of radiation in it for six months after the experience. It’s hard to overstate how great Jimmy Carter is. Every new story about him, or old story you had not heard before, only adds to one’s respect and admiration for the man.

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