2000 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: Wed, 21 Jun 2000 23:38:00 -0700 (PDT)
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] UC Davis takes charge of McClellan reactor

June 16, 2000

UC Davis takes charge of McClellan reactor

By Sylvia Wright

Five years after the decision was made to close McClellan Air Force
Base, the many people who worked together to keep open the base's
nuclear reactor will gather today for a celebration of their success.

U.S. Air Force representatives will make a ceremonial transfer of
authority to officials of UC Davis, which plans to use the McClellan
Nuclear Radiation Center for research, education and commercial

They will be joined by members of the Sacramento County Board of
Supervisors, which, sitting as the Local Reuse Authority, teamed with the
Air Force, UC Davis and the U.S. Department of Energy to keep the
10-year-old reactor active as a public resource.

Also participating will be U.S. Rep. Doug Ose, R-Sacramento, who
played a key role in securing the federal funds needed to complete the
transfer from the Air Force to UC Davis.

"As McClellan Air Force Base is drawing toward closure and closing
the books on many programs, it is rewarding to be involved in and see a
new chapter opening up for UC Davis and the McClellan Nuclear
reactor," said Jim Barone, director of the Sacramento Air Logistics
Center. "Turning over the reactor to UC Davis was a win-win situation
for all parties involved."

"The transfer of the McClellan center from the Air Force to UC Davis is
an excellent example of the university being fully engaged with its
community," said UC Davis Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef. "Sacramento
County, our congressional delegation and business leaders from
throughout the region worked with us to preserve and develop this
national research and commercial asset. Now we extend an invitation to
both research scientists and organizations interested in commercial
applications of the center: We are open for business."

The McClellan Nuclear Radiation Center was built by the Air Force in
1990 to detect early corrosion and hidden defects in airplanes. At its
heart is a two-megawatt reactor designed to produce beams of neutrons.
It is the newest such reactor in the United States. Its value in 1990 was
$16 million; today it is estimated at $40 million.

In 1993, researchers started to find non-military uses for the reactor.
Soon semiconductor manufacturers were using it to improve the
conductivity of materials. Cancer specialists at the UC Davis Medical
Center began to develop an experimental treatment for brain tumors.

Then a number of base closures were announced, including McClellan.
Working with the Air Force, UC Davis and the Sacramento County
supervisors drafted a plan to convert the center to a university research
asset for the western United States.

"The McClellan Nuclear Reactor Center promises to serve as a catalyst
for technological applications that will provide high-paying jobs for the
region," said Roger Dickinson, chair of the Sacramento County Board of

"We are grateful to the university for recognizing not only the
significance of the facility as a research tool, but also as the engine of
a potential bio-medical complex with far-reaching implications for our
regional economy."

For now, UC Davis holds a 50-year lease on the reactor and the
surrounding 2.35 acres in what has become a private business park
called The McClellan Park. Eventually, the lease will convert to a deed
of ownership. Safety measures will continue to be overseen by the U.S.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission, as required for all nuclear reactors.

The reactor will remain at its present location, 25 miles from the main
UC Davis campus and 10 miles from the UC Davis Medical Center in

The Department of Energy is committed to providing $8 million to cover
transfer costs and research operating costs for four years.

The federal government has already transferred $17.6 million to the
University of California to cover the eventual costs of shutting down, or
decommissioning, the reactor at the end of its useful life, some 25 to 30
years from now.

The campus's Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research is currently
soliciting proposals for research using the reactor from investigators in
academia, industry and other research institutes throughout the western
United States. The office has $500,000 available in grant funds from the
U.S. Department of Energy.

To encourage proposals from UC investigators in particular, the research
office is offering up to 21 hours per week of free neutron-beam time until
Jan. 31, 2001.

Only about half of the reactor's operating time will be devoted to
research projects. The other half is intended to be sold to businesses.
One existing commercial service that is likely to expand is the production
of radioisotopes, which are traceable atoms used for studies in chemistry,
biology, medicine and engineering.

To develop the commercial workload, UC Davis has partnered with a
private-sector high-technology research and engineering company based
in San Diego, Science Applications International Corp.
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