At Campus Nuclear Reactors, Heads Are Cool

News from Japan prompts reassurances from campus operators

At Campus Nuclear Reactors, Heads Are Cool 1

Benjamin Brink, The Oregonian

Reed College's research reactor sits in a pool of water 25 feet deep. Even if the water leaked away, the fuel wouldn't get hot enough to melt.

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close At Campus Nuclear Reactors, Heads Are Cool 1

Benjamin Brink, The Oregonian

Reed College's research reactor sits in a pool of water 25 feet deep. Even if the water leaked away, the fuel wouldn't get hot enough to melt.

The week before spring break would have been a busy one for the undergraduates who run Reed College's nuclear reactor in any case. Almost everyone had midterms, and a team of inspectors from the U.S. Energy Department was visiting to check the reactor's old fuel rods with a high-tech camera and watch as reactor operators—all of them students—transferred the rods to lead-lined caskets so they can be shipped away later this year.

But with a crisis of unprecedented