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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Zachry reactor stays despite renovation



A nuclear reactor remains in Zachry as renovation projects begin around it.

Construction crews that plan to tackle the Zachry Engineering Center’s renovation will have an unusual feature at their worksite — an operational nuclear reactor.
Construction will begin over spring break to renovate Zachry into the Engineering Education Complex. To prepare for the upcoming construction, Zachry had to be emptied of all personnel and equipment. The reactor housed in Zachry will remain intact and operational during the construction process but will not be in use. Safety precautions will be in place to ensure the reactor’s stability, and police will guard the reactor every night, said engineering administration officials.
Before the building construction, the nuclear reactor inside was used to teach students about operational materials and safety techniques.
“The nuclear reactor is a five watt reactor that has about enough power to power a light bulb, but nevertheless it is a nuclear reactor,” said Tell Butler, manager of engineering facilities.
Butler said the university will take every precaution to safeguard the reactor. A special utility system will be put in place to ensure the reactor has the same level of stability and power that it had when the building was fully operational. Access to the reactor area will be restricted to the nuclear reactor supervisor, a federal nuclear commission agency and a group of consultants hired to look after the area. The reactor area will also be under video surveillance in addition to being guarded by police at night.
The reactor is the only piece of equipment to remain in Zachry as construction crews ready for the eventual renovation. All other pieces of equipment have been removed from the building and taken to new locations, Butler said.
“To move that equipment appropriately, we brought in the manufacturers of that equipment and they actually disassembled it, packed it for moving and when we put it in the new locations they came in and reassembled it,” Butler said.
All of the pieces of equipment moved out of Zachry will remain in their new locations, Butler said, and new equipment will be brought in for the Engineering Education Complex when it is completed. Much of the equipment that has been removed from Zachry is mainly used by graduate students, but the Engineering Education Complex will focus on undergraduate education. The new equipment that will be brought in will be smaller scale, simulation-based equipment Butler said.
Butler said the process of emptying Zachry for construction has been ongoing for nearly a year but was completed in the first week of February. Zachry’s renovation into the Engineering Education Complex will begin during spring break with the abatement of any hazardous materials, such as asbestos.

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