Decommissioning In Arkansas Runs Out Of Funds

Decommissioning work of the Southwest Experimental Fast Oxide Reactor (SEFOR) near Fayetteville, Ark., will be discontinued at the end of March due to a lack of funds, according to the reactor's owner, which is the University of Arkansas (UA), Fayetteville.

SEFOR NPPThe reactor was built in 1968 –- a project of the then-titled U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. Operations closed down, however, after only a few years and the plant never produced electricity, given it was never hooked up to a turbine, said Arkansas Online.

The University of Arkansas took ownership of the plant in 1975 and used it as a research facility until 1986.

The spent fuel has long since been removed and “thousands of pounds” of low level waste has been shipped to Utah.

About $16 million has been spent on the decommissioning project so far. UA associate vice chancellor for facilities Mike Johnson was quoted as saying there “remains a slight chance” that an additional $8 million in federal funds designated for decommissioning SEFOR could be forthcoming this year.

The university had originally estimated the cost of the project at $26.1 million, but federal funding has been sporadic. The first federal grant for the project, which was awarded in 2009, was for $1.9 million. In 2016, the project was awarded a Department of Energy grant of approximately $5 million.

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