August 20, 2004

Campus Reactors

Matthew Wald on the UW's "little" nuclear reactor:

The University of Wisconsin's nuclear reactor is an unassuming little model, operated (on Tuesdays and Thursdays only) by students in T-shirts and shorts. In the last few months it has been used to identify the source of pottery shards from an ancient settlement in India, to test whether heart stents work better if they have been irradiated, and to study the water and gas balance that would be present in a future generation of power reactors.

But its fuel is weapons-grade uranium. If it were stolen, experts say, it could give terrorists or criminals a major head start on an atomic bomb.

And Wisconsin is not alone. Five other university research reactors around the country use weapons-grade fuel, even though the federal government has promised for more than two decades to reclaim their uranium and substitute a less enriched variety that is closer to the kind that commercial power plants use.

Posted by James Zellmer at August 20, 2004 12:04 AM | Subscribe to this site via RSS:
Posted to Technology