Ten students, working for ABC News, visited nuclear reactors on 25 college campuses and found many gaping security holes, prompting a federal investigation. Here's what the team found at the University of Texas, Austin.
Reactor Name: Nuclear Engineering Teaching Laboratory
Fuel: Low-enriched uranium
Power Level: 1.1 MW
Began Operating: 1992
Location: Inside a research park, about seven miles from the main campus. About 200 meters from a water research facility. The reactor is easily visible from a busy commercial street that runs alongside the research park.
Security Observations: A tall perimeter fence with three guard booths surrounds the entire research park. One guard booth serves as the main entrance. The university's Web site advertises public tours. Names are requested in advance.
What We Found: Two of the guard booths were manned during the day. The gate at the unmanned booth was chained and padlocked. In the early evening, after business hours, guards stayed on duty at the main gate only and drivers entering and exiting the research campus signed a clipboard for entry. Later at night, all the guards appeared to have departed and drivers who entered the research campus appeared to have access to open the gate. The reactor director declined requests for a tour saying he was traveling in Europe and couldn't accommodate the request.
University Reaction: The facility is prepared for any threats that may arise, said Sean O'Kelly, associate director of the Nuclear Engineering Teaching Laboratory. He said that the facility is guarded 24 hours a day, either by perimeter guards or guards at the building.
He would not comment on whether the guards are armed. Tours are granted for groups that call in advance, Kelly said, adding that names must be provided because "we check some things," but said that calling it a "background check" would not be accurate.