- Associated Press - Thursday, September 17, 2015

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - Renovations have started at a University of Michigan building that once housed a nuclear reactor.

A ceremony was held Thursday to kick off the $12 million in upgrades to the Nuclear Engineering Laboratory on the school’s Ann Arbor campus.

The work will result in 13,200 square feet of labs, offices and conference rooms.

The lab will provide research space for faculty and students “to make major impacts on nuclear nonproliferation, nuclear reactor safety and homeland security,” Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences chair Ronald Gilgenbach said in a release.

The Ford Nuclear Reactor was part of the Michigan Memorial Phoenix project to investigate peaceful uses of nuclear technologies, such as life-saving medical treatments. The school built the reactor in 1955 and it was used by academic researchers for experiments.

Decommissioning of the reactor has been going on for more than a decade. The facility was renamed the Nuclear Engineering Laboratory.

Its thick walls are designed to stop radiation, protecting people inside and outside of the four-story building.

“By adapting an historic reactor building, we have created the new nuclear engineering labs to address critical current and future problems in nuclear measurements and nonproliferation,” Engineering dean David Munson Jr. said.

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