Over the last few months, most headlines regarding Kodak have focused on the company's financial struggles. Early this year, Kodak filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection, and, not too long after, announced plans to step away from the digital camera market and move more towards home photo printers and high-speed commercial inkjet presses. Today brings something totally different: News that, up until 2006, Eastman Kodak had its very own nuclear reactor in New York.
According to a recent report in Democrat and Chronicle, Kodak kept a small nuclear reactor underground at Kodak Park, the company's Rochester, NY headquarters. The reactor was apparently for research purposes and was contained insider a bunker with two-foot-thick concrete walls. Albert Filo, a former Kodak research scientists, is quoted as saying the reactor was used to check the purity of materials as well as for tests related to neutron radiography. According to D&C, "only key personnel" could go into the chamber where it was stored, and never while it was running.
Now, the fact that Kodak had a nuclear reactor, no matter how small, is surprising, but the fact that it was there for nearly 30 years and so few people knew about it is that much more surprising. Apparently Kodak never made a public announcement regarding the facility and a spokesperson for the company told the Democrat and Chronicle that he wasn't sure whether police, fire, or hazardous-material officials were ever notified. Word of the reactor only got out a few months back, when a former employer mentioned it to a reporter.
When the reactor was dismantled in 2006, federal regulators ensured Kodak provided detailed plans of how it planned to remove the reported 3.5 pounds of highly enriched uranium it had been keeping in the basement for nearly 30 years.