UB prepares to tear down former research reactor on south campus

Jun 6, 2012

It's been almost two-decades since the University at Buffalo shut down its research reactor on the South Campus and the last bill for its operation is on the way, the cost for demolishing the radioactive building. 

It may cost $20-million to demolish the building and cart away the debris.  While bids are supposed to be coming in June 19 for the demolition, final approval for the plan hasn't arrived yet from Washington.

The reactor goes back to the days in the 1950's Atoms For Peace and cheap nuclear power.  That meant UB and many other schools had nuclear engineering departments and small reactors on campus.

For the university, that's long gone.

David Vasbinder is associate director of Environment, Health and Safety Services and director of the Buffalo Materials Research Center, that's the reactor.

Vasbinder said events have moved slowly since the reactor closed in 1994. 

"This facility was shut down and we went into a possession-only mode where we possessed all the radioactive materials on site including the fuel that was still there and we basically maintained that in the facility until such time we got the approval for the shipment of the fuel off-site," said Vasbinder.

The nuclear fuel was removed in 2005, 11-years after the reactor was shut down, the rest of the operation has  been sitting since as demolition was planned.