Idaho nuclear reactor demolition postponed

Experimental Breeder Reactor-II in Idaho Falls was the site of studies revolving around nuclear fuel recycling.

January 27, 2017
CDR Staff
Demolition of the Experimental Breeder Reactor-II building at the former Argonne National Laboratory-West site near Idaho Falls, Idaho, has been postponed, a report by the Post Register says. It is the last piece of the test reactor where scientists studied nuclear fuel recycling and safety.

According to the report, the dome has already been gutted, but Department of Energy officials want to use the demolition funds on more pertinent areas, such as a state deadline to remove large amounts of transuranic waste from Idaho in 2018.

The reactor vessel was entombed in concrete, which was to be sliced by a hydro jet tool. The report says a slanted 8-foot concrete cap was to be built over the remnants of the building.

Instead of meeting the September deadline it was originally intended for, the project will now begin in 2019, the report says. It is scheduled to be complete in 2020. So far, $113 million has been spent on the project.

The dome began operating in 1964 and produced 20 megawatts of electricity, around half of the site’s energy consumption. According to the report, scientists began experimenting with recycling the spent fuel and in 1986, debuted the method they created to safely cool itself down in a blackout.

Funding was drawn from the program in 1994, the report says. A group of former employees are hoping plans to demolish the dome are canceled and that it can be repurposed as an auditorium.