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Incident reported at MIT reactor

An operator at the MIT nuclear reactor reportedly fell asleep in the control room for about half an hour shortly after 6 a.m. on June 29. MIT reported the incident to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission the following day. There was no threat to the public.

Professor Alice Gast, vice president for research, issued the following statement regarding the incident:

"This is the first incident of this type in the more than 45 years that MIT's research reactor has conducted productive research safely. The second operator on duty at the time reacted in a professional and highly responsible manner.

"MIT, its Reactor Safeguard Committee and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission are reviewing the incident as well as the corrective actions that MIT has already implemented. MIT's own preliminary findings indicate that it was an isolated event.

"MIT has taken several steps while awaiting the results of the NRC review. Pending the outcome of the NRC's and MIT's reviews, the operator involved will only be permitted to operate the reactor controls when there is a second licensed operator present in the control room. Whenever any console operator is alone in the control room, that person will be required to communicate at approximately 30-minute intervals with another member of the reactor staff."

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