|Columbia University Archives|
At a Glance
This collection is arranged in one series: Series I: TRIGA reactor records, 1967-1981.
Scope and Contents
This collection consists of correspondence, proposals, testimony, reports, legal decisions, press releases, product descriptions, petitions, and other materials relating to the TRIGA nuclear reactor that was to have been installed in Engineering Terrace in the late 1960s to early 1970s as a "teaching reactor" for use and study by students.
Correspondence includes that between the University's counsel and its president, between and among physics and other faculty, University administrators, including Robert K. Novick, Director of the Columbia Radiation Laboratory; the Atomic Energy Commission, and General Dynamics. Correspondence and testimony for and against the reactor's presence on the Morningside campus is scattered throughout the files.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Restrictions on Access
You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.
This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.
All administrative records of the University are restricted for 25 years from the date of creation.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); TRIGA reactor records; Box and Folder; University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University Libraries.
Additional materials related to the TRIGA reactor at Columbia can be found in Central Files (UA#0001) (find under Triga Research Reactor, Triga Atomic Reactor and/or Triga Reactor and Classified research file, Box 635) and in Historical subject files (UA#0002).
No additions are expected.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
2020-05-04 Full finding aid (JR)
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
As part of the Nuclear Science and Engineering program, a nuclear reactor was built for education and research purposes in the Engineering Terrace building. The application for construction was accepted by the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) in 1963 and the building project was completed in April 1967 at a total cost of approximately one million dollars. However, the reactor was never fueled and was never radioactive. When Columbia applied to the AEC for an operating license, they received numerous petitions for intervention from residents and activists. Due to the prevailing climate at that time (student unrest and community opposition), Columbia asked AEC to place a hold on the application for the operating license. Columbia reapplied in summer 1969 but the application was denied by the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) because of conflicting estimates of the amount of radioactive material that would be released in a postulated accident. In 1971 an Appeal Board overturned the original ASLB decision and recommended issuance of a license to Columbia. In 1972 interveners filed a petition in the U.S. Court of Appeals for a review of the decision, which the Court later denied. The interveners then petitioned the Supreme Court for review of the Appeal Board decision. By 1974 Columbia was in the process of re-evaluating the Nuclear Science and Engineering program and the need for the nuclear reactor. With changes in upper management and financial considerations, the project was put on indefinite hold. The related instruments were donated to other institutions.