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Kodak Basement Lab Housed Small Nuclear Reactor 169

Posted by Soulskill
from the could-have-been-quite-the-kodak-moment dept.
McGruber writes "The Rochester (NY) Democrat-Chronicle has the interesting story of the Eastman Kodak Co.'s Californium Neutron Flux Multiplier, which was housed in Building 82 of Kodak Park in Rochester, NY. The multiplier contained 3½ pounds of highly enriched (weapons-grade) uranium. Kodak used it to check chemicals and other materials for impurities, as well as for tests related to neutron radiography, an imaging technique. From the article: 'When Kodak decided six years ago to close down the device, still more scrutiny followed. Federal regulators made them submit detailed plans for removing the substance. When the highly enriched uranium was packaged into protective containers and spirited away in November 2007, armed guards were surely on hand. All of this — construction of a bunker with two-foot-thick concrete walls, decades of research and esoteric quality control work with a neutron beam, the safeguarding and ultimate removal of one of the more feared substances on earth — was done pretty much without anyone in the Rochester community having a clue.'"
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Kodak Basement Lab Housed Small Nuclear Reactor

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  • by GeneralSecretary (1959616) on Monday May 14, 2012 @03:52PM (#39999119)
    Los Angeles used to have a little experimental reactor in UCLA. It was quite controversial once residents found out about it. http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2011/04/ucla-history-nuclear-reactor.html [blogspot.com]
  • Surprising... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday May 14, 2012 @04:02PM (#39999223) Journal
    I'm not so surprised that some rather alarmingly powerful beam sources would be operated quietly by people with atypical sensor needs. I am a bit surprised that 3.5 lbs of highly enriched Uranium would be available to serve as a beam source.

    Not telling the neighbors about a scary-sounding piece of industrial/scientific apparatus is one thing, having enough nuclear material to interest a proliferation wonk in your basement, on the other hand, seems like it would raise eyebrows...
  • by flink (18449) on Monday May 14, 2012 @04:08PM (#39999279)

    MIT still does: http://web.mit.edu/nrl/www/ [mit.edu]

  • Re:Surprising... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Isaac-1 (233099) on Monday May 14, 2012 @04:08PM (#39999295)

    Considering the amount of DOD sensor work they did I am not surprised at all.

  • Just curious... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Reasonable Facsimile (2478544) on Monday May 14, 2012 @04:52PM (#39999795)
    How many as-yet undetected meth labs pose more danger?
  • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Monday May 14, 2012 @05:06PM (#39999969)
    There are three reactors in (or very near) Prague, all of them for undergrad and students and powernuke-technicians-in-training to play with. Some material experiments and other studies needing intense radiation are performed there, too. Nobody gives a damn. We should be actually quite proud of them, everything here is home-built. Damned Austrians with their silly alarmist shrieks, though.
  • by dbc (135354) on Monday May 14, 2012 @05:14PM (#40000035)

    Yup. IIRC, the commonly used unit 30 years ago or so was the UTR-10 -- "University Teaching Reactor 10". Pretty much any engineering school with a nuclear engineering program back then had one of those hiding some place that was.... umm.... not well advertised. I haven't kept up, but I suspect the same unit or maybe a slightly updated design is still common. It wasn't weapons grade Uranium, though, but certainly fissionable because the whole point was learning to operate a power generation reactor as would be found at an electric utility or on a US Navy vessel.

    I wouldn't have known about it at all except that my roommate's girlfriend was a NucE student who trained on it. It's existence wasn't widely known. More students could navigate the steam tunnels than knew how to find the reactor.

  • Re:sigh... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tinkerghost (944862) on Monday May 14, 2012 @05:50PM (#40000421) Homepage

    They also took away the right for the emergency services workers to be trained and know what they were dealing with in the event of a fire or other situation potentially involving weapons grade radioisotopes.

    Um, not really. I knew it was there. Just about anyone who went to college in the area knew it was there - if you were a hard science major. What they didn't do was advertise it. They got regulators to approve it & they put it in - no publicity & no big shouting matches over it.

  • Neutron Radiography (Score:3, Interesting)

    by caferace (442) on Monday May 14, 2012 @10:13PM (#40002069) Homepage
    In the early 80's, fresh from a move to Northern California I took a job ($7.50 an hour or so) working at a lab that did Neutron Radiography. The process and results themselves are actually really cool. We'd test things like turbine blades for jet aircraft for porosity or residual casting material, welding flaws in Space Shuttle engines. Neat stuff. Then, it was sort of off in an orchard area with a few houses around. Now? Subdivisions, crowd it. That being said, it really is a low-impact sort of deal. Fire up the reactor in the morning, work, power it down in the afternoon. Within 20 minutes of shutdown you could walk past the containment wall, peer down into the pool and watch the blue glow fade. Neat job, for someone just exploring their potential career field. Twenty years later, I was back in the radiography field from a medical devices software bent.

    And yes, well after, my reproductive organs functioned just fine, thank you. ;)

    -jim

  • by jaymemaurice (2024752) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @12:16AM (#40002465)

    hmmm I nominate toaster power to be a new standard unit of measurement for future slashdot articles and comments where we would normally use watts.

  • Re:sigh... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @07:39AM (#40004049)

    Yeah, Kodak NEVER did any wrong right ? How about Rand Street ? How about the dead pets in the basements, stuff seeping up from people's basements, Kodak buying the houses on Rand Street, How about when they got caught and fined by the EPA for illegal dumpin? The high rate of ex employees dying of cancer and the childhood brain cancer clusters found with a square mile of kodak park ? Yeah they did a lot for Rochester.... They also laid off or fired 25% of their workforce at the end of every 3rd quarter like clockwork throughout the 90's to show a huge profit in the fourth quarter right in time for Christmas.... Then they would hire back temp workers to take the place of all they laid off. I know of a bunch of people that I went to school with whose parents worked 20, 25, & 30 years only to have a pinkslip one day for some b.s. reason. If your fired they dont have to pay unemployment! They ruined Rochester. The Rochester community turned a blind eye to all the pollution they did, bought only their product and were loyal an what did they do in return ? built factories in Mexico and shipped jobs out of the country! It may have been a great place when George Eastman was alive but after he died the greed came in and ruined it.

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