Kodak Had A Nuclear Reactor in the Bowels of its Rochester Campus

Many words and/or phrases come to mind when you think of Kodak: photography, disposable camera, kodak moment, and more recently bankruptcy. But we never thought we would be able to associate the phrases “nuclear reactor” and “enriched uranium” with the once-great photography giant — until recently that is. That’s because a few months ago a former Kodak employee let slip to the Democrat and Chronicle the existance of a little known, and never publicized, nuclear reactor hidden in the bowels of Kodak city for the last 30 years.

The reactor, a californium neutron flux multiplier (CFX), was housed in a now-vacant bunker complete with two-foot-thick concrete walls beneath Building 82 of its Rochester campus. And when it was being used it contained 3.5lbs of enriched uranium. Fortunately, nothing remotely ominous was going on there — the reactor was used, among other things, for nuclear radiography — but it still makes you wonder how the company managed to keep a nuclear reactor and a chuck of enriched uranium under wraps from an entire city from 1974 until 2006 when it was dismantled. Or more importantly, why the heck Kodak needed a nuclear reactor in the first place…

Did you know? Kodak Park had a nuclear reactor (via Gizmodo via Engadget)

Image credits: Photographs by Viktor Nagornyy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission

  • Doctor Octothorpe

    How easily we forget.  During the big Polaroid-Kodak battles of the early to mid 1970’s, Kodak needed to maintain retaliatory credibility.

  • John Reinert Nash

    The “nuclear option” was not so metaphorical at Kodak, apparently….

  • Chris Szulwach

    The article clearly states the why… neutron imaging to analyze chemicals and other materials.

  • junyo

    I don’t think people realize how common nuclear sources actually are. In a former life, I worked in a beverage bottling plant that had a bunch of (weak) radiation sources to inspect bottles and monitor fill level. 

    Nuclear emitters. 

    For beer.

    Eventually got rid of them because the system went to x-ray, and the DOE doesn’t climb up you butt when you lose a x-ray based detector.

  • australianlight

    …and to think all the Cold War eyes were on Russia, when the real Cold War between Kodak and Fuji was right under their very noses. ;)

  • Michael Earley

    neutron flux multiplier is not a reactor so the headline and story are not based in fact. The reason Kodak was using it was to make isotopes to use for their equipment that is used in nuclear medicine. Kodak had a very big business in x-ray and other films as well.

  • 9inchnail

     …and to think that the US is going to bomb Iran back to the middle ages because they are building nuclear reactors…

    Start at your own front door, bomb Kodak. No big loss there.

  • Flgraphics

    the real question is.. can I put in in my Delorean?