Deactivated Nuclear Reactor Site To Be Cleaned Up

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WASHINGTON COUNTY (KFSM) -- The University of Arkansas can now start moving forward with cleaning up a deactivated nuclear reactor site in the area.

The Southwest Experimental Fast Oxide Reactor or SEFOR has been a fixture in a community near Devil's Den for decades after it was de-commissioned.

The University of Arkansas will use a $10.5 million grant from the energy department to dismantle SEFOR.

The reactor was built in 1968 and sits off highway 265 south near the Strickler community.

Dale Quinton, who has lived in the area his whole life helped build the facility.

“Back then I had milk cows the health department came out and tested the milk about once a month. So there were safeguards but you never know what a nuclear reactor will do,” Quinton said.

SEFOR was deactivated in 1974 and the U of A took possession of it a year later after its nuclear fuel and coolant were removed.

“It’s been sitting there ever since, hasn`t been anything done except I understand the rods are taken out but there still maybe some radioactive stuff in the lines or something. And it`s been one of those deals that everybody put offs, well I don`t have any money, I can`t get any money,” Quinton said.

Juanita Gibson has lived in Strickler for more than two decades.

“It`s never been a big worry to me but if you think about it long enough you think well gosh what`s down there,” Gibson said.

She called the reactor an eyesore and says said won't miss it much once it's gone.

“It`s been there so long you tend to forget about it when you drive by but it will really be a relief to get it cleaned up,” Gibson said.

The University of Arkansas expects it to take about a year and a half to completely dismantle the facility.

The U of A used the reactor for research until 1986, but since then it has basically been a caretaker for the facility.

The university plans to turn the area back into the field it once was.

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