Nuclear reaction: Plant's dismantling draws crowd

Nuclear reactor plant tour takes place before it is dismantled.
Nuclear reactor plant tour takes place before it is dismantled. | Courtesy of Shutterstock
After a four-decade plea, the University of Arkansas finally got approval to take apart its decommissioned nuclear reactor, but not before hundreds of curious visitors got a chance to bid it farewell recently.

SEFOR -- the Southwest Experimental Fast Oxide Reactor -- was built near Strickland, Arkansas, in 1968 and decommissioned eight years later. The nuclear fuel and coolant were removed, and the plant was given to the school, which has been asking the U.S. government for permission to dismantle it ever since.

Approval of a $10.5 million Department of Energy grant finally came through last fall, thanks to the efforts of Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) and Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR).
Energy Solutions was contracted to remove the reactor, but not without first offering tours and a description of the cleanup process.

Approximately 400 Strickler community residents grabbed at the chance to see inside. Some said they were simply curious, while others had worked at the reactor and wanted to say goodbye.

Cleanup is expected to be completed this fall, although the university hopes to receive additional federal funding to return the site to greenfield conditions.

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University of Arkansas

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