|Eastman Kodak Co.'s californium neutron flux multiplier (CFX), acquired in 1974. (Credit: Nuclear Regulatory Commission)|
Talk about a Kodak moment, in this case how did the Kodak camera company manage to house a nuclear reactor along with weapons-grade uranium in its basement from 1978 until 2006? Sources are reporting that in Rochester, N.Y., the home area of Kodak there was a nuclear reactor housed there intended for research.
The small reactor contained 3.5 pounds (1.36kg) of enriched uranium plates placed around a californium-252 core. Some seem to think this would even classify as "weapons-grade" or had the ability to make weapons grade uranium. This is the material that bombs are made from and that terrorists seek.
Not even the locals to the area knew anything about this, including the 14x24-foot bunker.
So why did Kodak need a reactor? The main reason was apparently for neutrons that were used to analyze the purity of materials along with an interest in neutron radiography, where materials are photographed without damage. This reactor was the Californium Neutron Flex Multiplier.
Chris Veronda, Kodak's spokesman told the Democrat and Chronicle, "We decided it was no longer required, as there were alternative and less expensive means to obtain the analytical results." He went on to state that "This device presented no radiation risk to the public or employees. Radiation from the operation was not detectable outside of the facility."
According to the records of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Kodak was the only industrial company to posses this type of device. Meanwhile, the uranium was shipped in secrecy that were regulated and handled by the federal authorities according to Chris Veronda.
The Tech-Stew Take Home
While the basic answers were given by the Kodak spokesperson, it does still beg the question as to whether there were other reasons for such a need for a tech company such as this. The definition of whether their uranium was weapons-grade is also suspect. Kodak had their reactor in use for over 30 years and not a single outsider knew of its existence. If Kodak was able to pull this off, then there could be other companies out there doing the same thing.
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