Utah's only working nuclear reactor will be operating again within two weeks following a six-month shutdown for violating federal safety regulations, University of Utah officials say.
Professor Kevin Crawford, who was recently hired as a full-time supervisor of the university's 100-kilowatt reactor, said the U. has received operating approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission."We've received verbal approval; now we're just waiting for the NRC to send a letter confirming it," said Deitrich Gehmlich, associate dean of the College of Engineering and chairman of a committee overseeing the startup.
The reactor is in the nuclear engineering laboratory of the Merrill Engineering Building.
The NRC is requiring the full-time professor to supervise the reactor after several violations were found during an inspection last February.
"A good portion (of the violations) are just procedural matters," said Dr. Gary Sandquist, who had overseen the reactor with the help of graduate students since the university bought it from the University of Arizona in the early 1970s. "You can argue that anything is tied to safety, but in general it's just sheer paperwork."
Joe Gilliland of the NRC said the university was cited for five violations after a Feb. 16-19 inspection. He said the NRC ranks violations from one to five, with one being the most severe. "These were all fours," he said.
Gilliland and Sandquist said none of the violations presented an immediate threat to people.