We’ve all got old stuff kicking around in basements and attics that we’ve forgotten about. But hey, what’s this in Kodak’s basement? Oh, it’s just a nuclear reactor and 3.5 pounds of highly enriched uranium. Makes sense for a photography company to have such a thing.
Democrat and Chronicle says Kodak Park in Rochester, N.Y. had the research reactor in its basement for more than 30 years. Nothing ever leaked, and Eastman Kodak Co. officials swear the device was perfectly safe. It was locked down, remotely surveilled and tightly regulated.
Six years ago the company decided to close it down, and had to submit detailed plans for removing it and the uranium to federal regulators. The uranium was packed up nice and tight into protective containers and sent off in November 2007.
It’s not that the reactor was exactly a secret — a few research papers mentioned it and it was referred to in public documents.
“It was a known entity, but it was not well-publicized,” said Albert Filo, a former Kodak research scientists who worked with the device for nearly 20 years.
So what was the thing doing there, anyway? Everyone seems to be a bit baffled as to why Eastman Kodak would have weapons-grade uranium at all, much less in a post-9/11 world. It seems to have been connected to the company’s interest in neutron imaging, which can create an image of the makeup of a material without damaging it.
In 1974, Kodak acquired a californium neutron flux multiplier, and used it to check chemicals and other minerals for impurities.
“This device presented no radiation risk to the public or employees. Radiation from the operation was not detectable outside of the facility,” a company spokesman said.
*Thanks for the tip, Mike!
Did you know? Kodak had a nuclear reactor [Democrat and Chronicle]