Research reactor to close

29 June 2001

The Cornell University Board of Trustees voted unanimously to decommission the Triga Mark II research reactor and close the Ward Center for Nuclear Studies. The reactor costs about $500,000 a year to operate, of which the university has provided about $200,000 per year. The director of the Ward Center, Kenan Unlu, said the reactor would have been “able to claim financial independence”, since a Department of Energy (DoE) advisory panel had recommended providing $250,000 to Cornell.

The DoE panel has also recommended providing the same amount to both the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Michigan, which are also considering shutting their reactors in response to the 20% cuts for the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy, Science and Technology (see NEI May 2001, p3).

John C Lee, chairman of the University of Michigan’s Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences, said the proposed cuts would require his department to decommission its research reactor and test laboratories within three years. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has also told the Energy Department it plans to decommission its reactor unless the government contributes more.

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