Research reactor an obscure piece of Kodak history
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) — A little-known piece of Kodak's history has emerged as the company struggles for survival: It used to operate a small nuclear research reactor at its Rochester, N.Y., home.
The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported (http://on.rocne.ws/JUUy84) the reactor fueled by 3 1/2 pounds of highly enriched uranium operated for 30 years before it was dismantled in 2007. The fuel was taken under high security to a federal facility, a move kept secret following the 9/11 attacks amid concerns about weapons grade uranium falling into the hands of terrorists.
Kodak said it shut down the reactor because it was no longer needed.
Researchers said the company used the refrigerator-sized device to produce neutrons for testing materials and imaging. They said it was mentioned in research papers and in some federal documents. But the company didn't publicize its existence in the city.
"It was a known entity, but it was not well-publicized," Albert Filo, a former Kodak research scientist who worked with the device for nearly 20 years, told the newspaper.
Christopher Veronda, a company spokesman, said he could not find any evidence Kodak ever publicly announced the presence of the facility. He also wasn't sure if local police, fire or other emergency officials were ever told of the reactor kept behind 2-foot-thick concrete walls in a bunker under Kodak Park.
Current city officials said they didn't know about the reactor.
Research reactors at Cornell and the University at Buffalo have also been shut down in recent years. Rensselaer Polytechnic University's reactor, the only one remaining in New York, is no longer fueled by highly enriched uranium.
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