First Advisor

David Horowitz

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in History






Nuclear energy -- Pacific Northwest, Trojan Nuclear Power Plant (Or.), Antinuclear movement -- Oregon, Environmentalism -- Oregon, Portland General Electric Company



Physical Description

2, iii, 114 leaves ; 28 cm.


From 1976 to 1992 Portland General Electric (PGE) -- a private utility based in Portland, Oregon -- operated the Trojan Nuclear Plant near Rainier, Oregon, on the bank of the Columbia River. Trojan was the first commercial nuclear facility in the Pacific Northwest and was the largest such facility in U.S. history. From its origins, Trojan was the focus of growing conflict over atomic energy facilities and their environmental effects, risks, and costs. This thesis traces the history of Trojan, including the conditions in which PGE decided to build the plant as well as the changing conditions in which the environmental movement in Oregon worked to impact the operation of Trojan and the development of further atomic energy facilities in the region. Two sets of values, largely endemic to the region, came into conflict in the debate over Trojan: one which valued preservation of vital natural systems over all else, and another that elevated technological progress to supreme importance in achieving the ultimate social good. Supporters of Trojan and anti-nuclear activists both viewed misinformation about nuclear power as one of the central problems in the way that Oregon residents viewed nuclear power. Although there were many loyal supporters of Trojan, particularly in Columbia County, there were also a great number who viewed the technology cautiously. While both PGE and nuclear opponents worked diligently to sway public opinion, many activists did so by attempting to uncover and publicize hidden information about the design and operation of Trojan, and the nuclear fuel cycle in general. This included efforts throughout the plant's lifetime to develop opportunities for intervention in administrative proceedings, government hearings, and other arenas which often discourage citizen involvement. Related to the public debate over Trojan were ongoing operational difficulties and changing economic conditions, which contributed to the decision PGE announced in 1993 that Trojan would be permanently shut down. This study is based primarily on coverage from newspapers and periodicals, new and extant oral history interviews, documents from the personal files of activists, as well as various archival materials associated with PGE, activist groups, and government agencies.


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Portland State University. Dept. of History

Persistent Identifier