Brookhaven neutron source to close
Nov 19, 1999
The High Flux Beam Reactor (HFBR) at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in the US is to be permanently closed. The 34-year-old neutron source was shut down for maintenance and refuelling in 1996, but the discovery of small amounts of radioactive tritium in the water supply beneath the machine delayed the restart. The HFBR provided neutron beams for research in physics, chemistry, materials science, biology and medicine. "This is a sad and sober day for us all" said Patricia Dehmer of the Department of Energy's office of science.
The HFBR had become trapped in a economic and political battle between the Department of Energy and the US congress, with the latter refusing to release funds to restart the reactor. Moreover, it was costing $23 m per year to keep the reactor in standby mode. The high cost of restarting the reactor, and the cost of paying for upgrades to other neutron sources in the US, led to the decision to permanently close the reactor. "While I don't believe the Brookhaven reactor is a threat to the public or the environment, we need to focus our limited resources on productive research," said Bill Richardson, head of the DOE.