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 Ohio State University.
Fuel: Low-enriched uranium
Power Level: 500 kW
Began Operating: 1961
Location: In a stand-alone facility, two miles from the main campus, one half-mile from the State of Ohio Computer Center, the data center for 13 state agencies.
Security observations: No guards. No metal detectors. ID was required for tour, but no advance background checks. Vehicles can be parked next to the building.
What We Found: The Fellows arrived unannounced and were given access to the reactor and its control room for a tour by the retired director, who was gardening outside. He unlocked the building door, which leads directly to the reactor room, and let the Fellows in carrying bags and without checking ID. Later, the bags were searched and the Fellows were asked to produce photo IDs the reactor operator provided an extensive tour of the reactor, including the control room.
As the Fellows took photos of the building's exterior, the reactor director came out of the building and observed them.
University Reaction: "You're lucky you were not arrested," said Earle Holland, director of research communications in the Office of University Relations. Holland said reactor employees became suspicious because the Fellows were seen taking photos of the building's exterior. Reactor staff then alerted officials in Washington about the visit, he said.
Regarding the reactor staff's handling of the Fellows' visit, Holland said, "We did an exceptional job."
Holland would not comment on specific security measures He said that as the first line of defense, his staff is always on alert and suspicious and "we have a well-oiled machine."
Additional Comment: "The system failed," said Ronald E. Timm, a veteran security consultant who has analyzed the vulnerability of the nation's nuclear laboratories for the Department of Energy.
Investigators at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which oversees the campus research reactors, said the agency wants to know how the Fellows got inside without background checks and without their bags being checked.