Primetime’ exposes U’s nuclear reactor security

In October, an ABC News broadcast described security measures at the Merrill Engineering Building to be inadequate for housing a nuclear reactor.

The “Primetime” report was part of a nationwide investigation to test security at 25 university reactors by 10 ABC interns. It accused the U’s reactor of being vulnerable to terrorists.

The report was strongly disputed by university officials, who described it as inaccurate and appalling.

The investigative team, comprising two student interns, Traci Curry and Michelle Rabinowitz, claimed they found no guards, no metal detectors, no background check, no ID check and open tours at the reactor.

According to the report, the interns scheduled a tour giving them access to the reactor pool and control room. They were able to bring cameras on the tour.

The interns also came back on a return visit at 12:30 a.m. to find a basement entrance to the building unlocked. They were then able to videotape in the hallway at night unchallenged.

The report quoted Ronald E. Timm, a veteran in security consulting, as saying that security for the reactor was “very poor risk management.”

U professors and students were surprised by the report, especially by the claim that the reactor could be used as a bomb.

They asserted that since the reactor was specifically built for student use, it was physically impossible for anyone to make a bomb out of it.

U officials said that although the interns were able to enter the Merrill Engineering Building, they were unable to get through four locked doors to reach the actual reactor.

U officials also maintained that security checks were run, that they were aware of the two interns filming at 12:30 a.m. and that the security plan worked.

ABC has continued to stand by its story and has refused to retract any part of it.

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