Step into the UW's former nuclear reactor

BREAKING: UW releases statement regarding arrest of UW football player



UW tailback Johri Fogerson was booked into the Snohomish County Jail by Washington State Patrol at 6:03 a.m. Thursday morning on charges of resisting arrest and posession of 40 grams or less of marijuana, according to the Snohomish County booking registry.

Bail was set at $500 and Fogerson was released Thursday morning at 10:53 a.m.

UW football head coach Steve Sarkisian released the following statement Thursday morning.

"We are aware of an arrest of a member of the UW football team," Sarkisian said. "We are still gathering information and, if and when any action is taken on our part, we will have further comment."

KIRO TV reports that, according to court papers obtained by KIRO, Fogerson was pulled over around midnight because of a burned-out headlight. He then ran away from a Washington State Patrol trooper as the trooper reached for his handcuffs after asking Fogerson to step out of the car, noticing a small bag of marijuana.

KIRO reports that at 3:20 a.m. Thursday, Fogerson arranged with his mother to turn himself in at 164th Street and Meadow Road. He was arrested at 6:03 a.m. and booked in the Snohomish County Jail.

Fogerson was The Associated Press State Player of the Year in 2007 after his senior year at O'Dea High School.

The junior was injured for much of the 2010 season, playing in just one game at BYU and sitting out the rest of the season with a hip injury.

Fogerson's brother, Zach, is a freshman fullback who played in seven games this past season.

See Fogerson's bio page here

Reach Sports Editor Taylor Soper at sports@dailyuw.com.

Pac-10 Power Rankings: Men

1. UCLA (22-9, 13-5 Pac-10): Arizona won the league title Saturday, but the Bruins are the team to beat at the Pac-10 tournament this week in front of their hometown fans at the Staples Center. Three Bruins were just named to the All-Pac-10 Team — Tyler Honeycutt, Malcom Lee and Reeves Nelson — and that stifling Ben Howland defense seems to be hitting its peak as the season winds down.

2. No. 16 Arizona (25-6, 14-4): Let the accolades pour in for the Wildcats. After his team won its 12th Pac-10 title with a 90-82 win over Oregon on Saturday, star sophomore Derrick Williams was named the Pac-10’s Player of the Year yesterday, while head coach Sean Miller was named Pac-10 Coach of the Year. UCLA may have the more complete team at this point in the season, but I don’t doubt for a second that Williams — and the whistle-happy Pac-10 referees — could single-handedly will Arizona to a tournament title.

3. USC (18-13, 10-8): Finally got to see Nikola Vucevic play in person in USC’s 62-60 victory over the UW Saturday, and damn is he good. There are very few cons in his game — he pushed around Bryan-Amaning in the post and even showed off a sweet shooting stroke from downtown. The Trojans are playing as well as anybody right now, but that seven-man rotation could cause some endurance and foul-trouble issues this weekend.

4. Cal (17-13, 10-8): Third and fourth place in the rankings this week was a toss-up with the way the Bears closed the season off. Sean Miller was named the Pac-10’s Coach of the Year, but Cal’s Mike Montgomery was just as deserving. The Bears have five freshmen and little depth, but somehow ended on a four-game winning streak — including a 76-72 overtime win over UCLA Feb. 20 — and finished tied for fourth in the Pac-10.

5. Washington State (19-11, 9-9): A classic case of Cougin’ it this weekend against visiting UCLA. WSU had a 12-point lead at halftime against the league’s hottest team, but crumbled in the second half without star junior guard Klay Thompson. Though they only received the No. 6 seed in the tournament this week, they’ll get to play the UW again — a team they swept this season.

6. Washington (20-10, 11-7): Biggest disappointment of the Pac-10 this season, without question. So much was expected out of this talented group, especially after an encouraging performance at the Maui Invitational, but the Huskies have simply not delivered. The panic button is bigger than the diameter of Drumheller Fountain, and a loss to WSU Thursday night could cost the Huskies a ticket to go dancing at the NCAA tournament.

7. Stanford (15-15, 7-11): Definitely a down year for the Cardinal, who won just two out of 10 games against the Pac-10’s top-five teams. On the bright side, the future looks good in Palo Alto: Guard Anthony Brown and forward Dwight Powell were named to the Pac-10’s All-Freshman team.

8. Arizona State (12-18, 4-14): Could the Sun Devils be the sleeper heading into the Pac-10 tournament? It’s certainly looking that way. Senior guard Ty Abbott was named the league’s Player of the Week after averaging 22 points in ASU’s weekend sweep of the Oregon schools.

9. Oregon (14-16, 7-11): Looks like the Ducks just ran out of steam this season after becoming the league’s biggest surprise early on. Oregon was swept in the desert this past weekend and ended on a four-game losing streak. They’ll face ASU in the first round of the Pac-10 tournament on Wednesday.

10. Oregon State (10-19, 5-13): No, head coach Craig Robinson wasn’t playing big when he sent out three forwards, a center and a shooting guard on the floor to start OSU’s 70-59 loss at Arizona State Saturday. Robinson sat five players — three starters — because of broken curfews two nights prior. It’s a fitting end to a horrible season for the Beavers.

2011 Pac-10 Honors

Player of the Year

Derrick Williams, Arizona

Coach of the Year

Sean Miller, Arizona

Freshman of the Year

Allen Crabbe, California

Washington honors

All-Pac-10 team

Isaiah Thomas, junior

Pac-10 Most Improved Player of the Year

Matthew Bryan-Amaning, senior

All-Freshman team

C.J. Wilcox, redshirt freshman

All-defensive team, honorable mention

Matthew Bryan-Amaning, senior

Justin Holiday, senior

Extra, extra: Vince Grippi of the Spokesman Review reported that WSU head coach Ken Bone announced late Monday night that junior guard Klay Thompson will be reinstated for Thursday's Pac-10 tournament first round game against Washington. Thompson was suspended for Saturday's 58-54 overtime loss to UCLA for receiving a misdemeanor marijuana possession citation last Thursday night.

The Ladera Ranch, Calif. native leads the Pac-10 at 21.4 points per game. The two teams will face off at 8:30 p.m. at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Reach Sports Editor Taylor Soper at sports@dailyuw.com.

Confident Huskies looking to improve resume for nationals today at Pac-10 Championships

PUBLISHED: March 19, 2011

To the upstart goes the opportunity.

The No. 17 Washington gymnastics team is the feel-good story of the Pac-10 conference, a program that has arisen from the dead in the past five years. Yet the Huskies think they may just be ready to make another quantum leap, to grow from being the league’s little sister to one of it’s powers.

“Everybody is talking about Washington as being the up-and-coming team that has improved so much,” head coach Joanne Bowers said. “But when they are talking about the top teams in the Pac-10, they are still talking about Stanford, Oregon State, and UCLA. Until we can get into that conversation, that is what we are working for.”

Saturday’s Pac-10 Championships in Los Angeles, the team’s fifth under Bowers, will be the Huskies best chance yet to crack this fabled three-headed monster of the conference, the Cerberus of the west coast. It will be a tall order and no one within the UW program denies that. But if any squad may be up to the task, it is this year’s version, led by its own three-pronged attack: senior captains Haley Bogart, Kristen Linton, and Sam Walior.

This year is the trio’s fourth Pac-10 Championship. Their best finish so far came in their sophomore years, when the Huskies came in fourth. But Linton thinks that this year’s team may just be the best yet, a thought that scores support.

“Out of all the years I have been here, I think this team is the most confident,” she said. “So I am excited to see what we can do.”

Counterintuitive as it is, Saturday’s meet is technically part of the regular season. Therefore, team scores will be counted toward their respective RQS totals, which determine seeding and placement for the postseason and specifically Regionals.

The top 18 teams in the nation are seeded for Regionals, and thus have a much greater chance of advancing to the 12-team NCAA Nationals, which obviously puts the 17th-ranked Huskies in a rather precarious position. A good score, most likely anything above a 195.5, will cement the team’s spot— but a major slip-up could easily push them out of the top 18.

“I think if we just do what we have been doing all season, we should be okay,” Bowers said. “But it is always nerve-wracking, especially when we don’t have much room to play with anymore.

“It has been our goal all year as a team to be in the top 18. It is important to us, and I would be lying if I said it wasn’t.”

If the Pac-10 Championship’s results were to mirror the current conference standings, the Huskies would finish in fourth place, comfortably sandwiched between fifth-place Arizona and third-place UCLA, the defending national champions. But the team is only a great performance of its own or a miscue from one of the favorites away from breaching the top three.

“That would be amazing,” Linton said of the feeling if the Huskies were able to fight their way up the leaderboard.

Bowers also talked about how the team would react to a UW upset.

“It would probably be like we just won the Super Bowl,” she said. “It would be absolutely fantastic.”

Reach reporter Kevin Dowd at sports@dailyuw.com.

Across the street from the Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science and Engineering, the More Hall Annex sits empty. A loud echo reverberates through the cavernous building. The smell of damp concrete permeates the air.

Most of the students who walk by this innocuously named building don't realize that it once held a fully functioning nuclear reactor.

From April 1961 to June 1988, the UW operated a 100-kilowatt Argonaut research reactor, one of about 10 built for research universities in the United States. Designed at the Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago in the late 1950s and installed with funds from federal grants, the Argonaut reactor was at the center of the UW's nuclear engineering department, an elite graduate-level program, for nearly 30 years.

"For a time, it was a very successful department," said Gene Woodruff, a professor emeritus of chemical engineering at the UW.

"We thought that we had the best graduate students in the college of engineering," he said. "It was a very exciting field at the time."

After the formal founding of the department in 1965, Woodruff served as an assistant professor and as the assistant director of the reactor program. Although both the department and the program were the brainchild of Dr. Albert Babb, then the chairman, Woodruff would later become the reactor's director in 1970 and then chairman in 1980.

"The reactor ... was simple enough that it made a useful training device in nuclear engineering," he said. As a learning tool, graduate students would attend lab classes at the reactor. "Students were actually able, under the supervision of licensed operators, to take control of the reactor and change power levels and get some feeling for the behavior of the reactor."

The reactor's core was about a cubic meter in size and was surrounded by a block of reinforced concrete 10 feet thick. The reactor was graphite- moderated, meaning graphite blocks were stacked around the core to absorb the neutrons produced by the nuclear fuel. Maneuvering these blocks controlled the reaction.

"The uranium that was in the fuel was enriched uranium ... [I]t had a high percentage of U-235, so it's valuable stuff," Woodruff said.

The fuel took the form of approximately 60-100 enriched uranium-aluminum alloy plates about three feet long, four inches wide and 1/4 of an inch thick. Purified, recirculated tap water flowed in the half-inch spaces between the plates to absorb and take away the relatively low amount of heat produced.

The reactor's other mission, besides training aspiring nuclear engineers, was research, primarily in the form of neutron-activation analysis. This is a technique whereby a sample is irradiated in the reactor's neutron flux, and then the induced radioactivity is examined as a means of detecting the concentration of some element of interest.

Samples of a material were placed in the reactor and radiated. Radiation detectors would count the resulting gamma rays produced by the sample. The elemental composition of the sample could then be determined to parts per billion.

"In some cases, the sensitivity is extraordinary," Woodruff said.

The reactor was not operated around the clock, but rather from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. It was only used for experimentation a few hours a week, as experiments would take time to set up and then dismantle, said William Pat Miller, who came to the UW in 1961 to work on his master's degree in radiological sciences. He then he went to work for the nuclear engineering department, where he continued to work until 1995, serving as the program's last director.

"Especially [in the] 1960s and 1970s, we did a lot of stuff that was pretty new," Miller said. "People were ... very dedicated to their work. It was always fun to help them solve their research problems."

Typically, most experiments took place within a period of four to five hours, but days of preparation and an hour of reactor running time could lead to days, weeks and sometimes months of analysis.

Brian Grimes, who earned a master's degree in nuclear engineering in 1964 from the UW, worked on the reactor part time as a licensed operator to help pay for graduate school. Grimes said that he really enjoyed his time as a student.

"Having a graduate student desk in the ultra-modern reactor building felt good, and the daily interaction with other graduate students was competitive and motivating," he said. Grimes, who went on to a career with the U.S. government, including serving on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), said he also enjoyed the learning environment.

"In pursuing my experimental work at the reactor, the great support from the operations [and] technicians staff is a warm memory," he said.

In addition to the approximately 20 students in the nuclear engineering department, graduate school students from across the university used the reactor for research, including students from the School of Aquatic and Fisheries Sciences, chemistry, physics, geology, the UW School of Medicine and mechanical and civil engineering.

Starting in the mid-to-late 1970s, however, nuclear power began to fall out of favor.

"In particular, nuclear power sort of went into a tailspin on [the] West Coast, but especially in the Northwest," Woodruff said. Incidents like the one at Three Mile Island, in which a civilian power reactor in Pennsylvania underwent a partial meltdown in 1979, led to a decline in job prospects for graduates.

"Nuclear power sort of got a bad name," he said. Gradually, the quality of the graduate students declined and then the number of students in the program declined. After the reactor was shut down in 1988, there were barely any graduate students applying for the program, and so the faculty voted unanimously to recommend that the department be disbanded. It officially closed its doors in 1992.

Between 1989 and 1990, the uranium fuel was removed from the reactor's core and shipped to the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in eastern Washington for disposal. The reactor sat dormant through the '90s, partially dismantled and in "safe storage," while the UW waited for funding from the Washington state Legislature. The building was used as offices, storage and a robotics laboratory for the College of Engineering.

After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the NRC asked that the UW rename the nuclear reactor building "More Hall Annex."

"We were quite concerned after 9/11 that there might be an attempted break-in by people thinking there might be something of value [in there]," said Stanley Addison, the UW's radiation safety officer. "At that point, we felt that it was just better to completely shut it down. ... [T]hat's where steps really kicked in to get it out of here," he said.

The UW received the necessary funding to dismantle the remaining reactor components, with the decommissioning process finishing last spring.

It ended up being a lot less radioactive than any of us had thought it was going to be. ... [I]t was a pleasant surprise, rather than being the other way around," he said.

After a thorough survey of the building, the remaining metal components of the reactor's core and much of the surrounding concrete were removed, resulting in a concave shape in what remains of the concrete block. The equipment from the control room overlooking the reactor was also removed.

The plan is to eventually demolish the building after the reactor license expires. The UW is now in negotiations with the NRC to finalize the paperwork, but once the license expires, the demolition process will take less than three months. The building will be leveled and the area replanted.

While that may be the end of the UW's reactor, nuclear engineering may not yet be dead. With concerns about the environmental impact of more conventional, fossil fuel-burning power sources, nuclear power's appeal may grow stronger, especially if new techniques to recycle or reuse spent fuel are developed.

"You can't say nuclear power is without risk or without problems, but it's much safer than I think the general public impression [is], and by any meaningful comparison at all, it's a vastly superior way to make electricity as compared with coal, which is how we get most of the electricity in this country," Woodruff said. "Everyone, I think, felt the day would come, and we may be getting pretty close now, when nuclear power will make a comeback, but you can't keep a department going for years just on that premise."

The number of civilian research reactors at universities has declined from approximately 60-70 during the Cold War to about 30 today, including still-functioning reactors at Oregon State University, Reed College and WSU.

Glass windows line the balcony that runs along the top of the reactor building. The windows were part of a bygone era's sense of scientific optimism, as the post-WWII United States embraced the Atomic Age.

"The hypothetical [idea] was that it was going to be [a] very public-friendly reactor that anybody could come up and take a look in here and see the peaceful uses of nuclear energy," Addison said.

That era was supposedly limited to the '50s and '60s, but Addison said that he never recalled any student protests or complaints about the reactor while it was still operating.

"I think, for the most part, it was something that everyone was pretty proud of," he said.

Reach reporter Will Mari at features@thedaily.washington.edu.

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