Geek Trivia

Which Tech Company Maintained A Secret Nuclear Reactor For Over Thirty Years?

An Episode Of What TV Show Sent Hundreds Of Children To The Hospital?

Answer: Kodak

Between 1974 and 2007, the Eastman Kodak company had a secret tucked away deep beneath their Rochester-based Eastman Business Park research facility. The kind of secret that requires two feet of concrete shielding and any employees to keep mum about the work they did with it.

For a little over thirty years, they operated a nuclear research reactor known as a Californium Neutron Flux Multiplier (CFX). What shocked everyone when the news broke in 2012 wasn’t that the device was outrageously dangerous (it’s a fairly safe research type reactor and not a total-meltdown power-producing reactor), but that the device had been constructed and operated so far off the radar. Federal nuclear regulatory agencies were aware of it, a few people inside Kodak were aware of it, but nobody in the local community (including those who would be tasked with responding if there was any sort of accident) had any idea the device existed.

Kodak used the reactor to test for impurities in chemicals and other research samples. They eventually dismantled the device when new technology made it obsolete.

Image courtesy of Kodak.