Retired Nuclear Reactor In Northwest Arkansas Gone For Good

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WASHINGTON COUNTY (KFSM) -- Crews with Energy Solutions pulled a decommisioned nuclear reactor from the Southwest Experimental Fast Oxide Reactor site, known as SEFOR, near the Strickler community.

Dean Wheeler, project manager with Energy Solutions, says their first significant activity consisted of knocking down the containment building.

"We had to demolish the containment dome, which is a steel dome, and the bio-shield structure around the reactor," Wheeler said.

The reactor weighs 84-thousand pounds and was lifted with a large crane, and placed into a carbon steel containment vessel.

He tells me the next step was taking out the reactor.

Since 2016, The University of Arkansas has used federal funds to figure out how to dismantle the building.

Ricky Long lives nearby. He says his grandfather used to work at the former nuclear plant.

"I was about 12 or 13, and I would come over and visit with him at night," Long said. "He was a guard here, and I know some other people who have worked on the actual site and built the reactor back then."

Although Long has fond memories at SEFOR with his grandfather, he's glad to see the nuclear reactor gone.

"It's just kind of been an eyesore, but it's also kind of been a landmark type thing too. But if it's gone, it'll open it up for something else."

The complete clean up should be finished by spring 2019.

The University of Arkansas took ownership of SEFOR in 1975 for research but closed it down by the mid-1980s.

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