Camera Company Kodak Had Its Own Nuclear Reactor

“It’s such an odd situation because private companies just don’t have this material.” —Miles Pomper, Center for Nonproliferation Studies

In A Nutshell

For 30 years until 2007, the camera company Kodak maintained its own nuclear reactor. Kept safe in a heavily fortified bunker beneath Rochester, New York, it was used for a variety of scientific tests. Due to the security risk, its existence was only known to a handful of Kodak and Federal employees.

The Whole Bushel

In 1974, Kodak decided to upgrade its research facilities. With a need to undertake neutron radiography tests and rigorous material purity studies, there was only one piece of hardware that could satisfy their needs: a nuclear reactor. In a shocking turn of events, they soon managed to acquire one, birthing one of the strangest and most exciting stories to ever emerge from the camera and film industry.

Located in the basement of Building 82 at Kodak Park, a large-scale industrial complex on the outskirts of Rochester, New York, the reactor was stored inside a heavily guarded, reinforced bunker. The reactor itself was a type known as a Californium Neutron Flux multiplier; ominously, alongside a californium-252 core, it also contained 1.6 kilograms (3.5 lbs) of weapons-grade, enriched uranium, a veritable godsend for any evildoers that could have managed to get their hands on it. With such a massive security risk, the reactor’s existence was only known to a small contingent of Kodak researchers and federal observers.

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Over 30 years later, in 2007, Kodak eventually decided that the reactor posed too high of a risk to the surrounding population. Under armed guard, the reactor was decommissioned and the uranium packaged and sent away for processing. The reactor chamber was then decontaminated and still sits abandoned to this day.

Show Me The Proof

Did you know? Kodak Park had a nuclear reactor
Gizmodo: Kodak Had a Secret Nuclear Reactor Hidden In a Basement