Harold Dodgen with a mock-up of a reactor
fuel assembly.
PULLMAN – WSU’s Nuclear Radiation Center was completed 50 years ago, in March 1961, and a series of milestones during that month will be celebrated this month, according to Director Donald Wall.
 
“This is a very important milestone for the university, as we have 50 years of safe operations contributing to research and education at departments all across WSU,” Wall said.
 
A public celebration is tentatively planned in a few weeks, likely including a historical display, food and drinks, t-shirts for sale and comments from Wall.
 
To commemorate the exact 50th anniversary of the startup of the reactor, a small gathering of employees, former employees, students, family and friends will meet Monday night, March 7. A pre-startup checkout will be done and the reactor will be started about 9:50-9:55 p.m., in order to bring it to criticality as close to the original 9:58 p.m. time as possible, Wall said.
 
The reactor will be brought to full power and noted in the operations log to celebrate the anniversary.
 
Dodgen
Since 1955, when the reactor project first began, Wall said there have been only five facility directors, including himself. His predecessor, Gerald Tripard, will join the group Monday. Harold Dodgen, who was primarily responsible for construction and initial operation of the facility, still lives in Pullman, but will not participate Monday.
 
Thousands of members of the Pullman/Moscow community have visited the reactor over the years, Wall said.
 
Wall
“Every day we are committed to safe and secure operations, and we take our responsibilities very seriously,” he said. “Even so, a 50 year record of safe operations is a remarkable feat.
 
“I think it is probably more hazardous to work in a bank or insurance company office,” he said.
 
Read earlier WSU Today articles about the reactor at these links: