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Board defends RI nuclear reactor

April 5, 2011

Scientists at the state’s nuclear reactor in Narragansett are responding to safety concerns raised by the nuclear disaster in Japan. Rhode Island Nuclear Science Center Director Terry Teehan says the facility is inspected twice a year by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, or NRC.

“They just finished inspecting it, and we haven’t had any violations,” Teehan said. “We haven’t had any issues at all, no accidents or anything like that.”

Critics charge that the nuclear science center housed on the University of Rhode Island’s Bay Campus could become an environmental hazard if an unforeseen disaster were to strike Rhode Island. The reactor is used for research only and does not produce weapons-grade nuclear energy.

Anti-nuclear activists have also questioned the usefulness of the reactor as an educational facility because it was constructed in the early 1960’s. The reactor receives roughly $800,000 in funding from the state, with the rest of its budget coming from grants, user fees and the University of Rhode Island.

Officials at the RI Nuclear Science Center say they have received more than $1 million in federal research grants over the past three years for work at the reactor.

“RINSC is a world-class nuclear research and educational facility and among the top three such facilities in the United States,” the board charged with overseeing the facility wrote in a letter to Governor Lincoln Chafee. “The benefits to Rhode Island, its students, faculty, researchers, entrepreneurs, companies and Rhode Island Citizens at large far outweigh the small but adequate funding provided by the State.”

One Comment leave one →
  1. April 6, 2011 11:29 pm

    This reminds me of the way the crisis at 3 Mile Island was cause for a local reaction to an event in Tucson Arizona on April 15th 1979 with a leak of tritium at the American Atomics plant. This lead to a major local crisis costing the company its business, the employees their jobs, the Tucson School Department, and the tax-payers of Arizona.The story is told in Chapter 10 of KILLING OUR OWN by H Wasserman – 1982 – which is based on reporting by Arizona Daily Star, April 15, 1979, and January 4, 1981. …

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