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 Kansas State University.
Fuel: Low-enriched uranium
Power Level: Between 250 kw
Began Operating: 1962
Location: Ward Hall, an academic building in the heart of campus near the Kansas State student union, a sports stadium and a power plant.
Security observations: No guards. No metal detectors. A closed-circuit TV system. Driver's license requested for tour, but no advance background check. Bags were not allowed inside the reactor room, but wallets and a camera were allowed inside. The reactor's control room door was wide open.
What We Found: Just hours after calling to request a tour, the Fellows were inside the reactor and its control room for a two-hour visit. Two Kansas State University student guides allowed the Fellows to stand directly over the reactor pool for much of the tour. The tour guides discussed such details such as the location of the fuel rods, the location of extra uranium, the weight of the fuel elements, the pool dimensions and the reactor's operating hours. The tour guides allowed the Fellows to take extensive pictures and video.
Several hours later, the Fellows were detained by KSU campus police officers while filming the student library. The campus police said they fit a profile of "two women visiting reactors." After explaining that they had scheduled a tour with the reactor director, they were allowed to go.
University reaction: Reactor Director Michael Whaley said the facility is not a viable target for terrorists due to its low quantity of radioactive material. He said he is confident of the facility's security plan and that it is tested and improved on a regular basis.
Whaley said the door to the reactor's control room might have been open when the Fellows visited because it is sometimes left open while people are working in the room. He stressed that the door to the reactor room itself was locked and that it locks automatically. Whaley said there are no guards stationed at the reactor and said the campus police would be the first responders to any situation.
Whaley said he knew in advance that the Fellows were coming to visit the reactor before they arrived on campus because had been in communication with campus police, the FBI and the NRC. Whaley said, however, that he did not know that campus police had detained the Fellows.
KSU campus police Director Ronnie Grice said his department monitors a closed-circuit TV system both in and around the reactor, although he acknowledged it is not watched 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He said an alert tone would sound if anyone attempted to enter the reactor area.
Additional comment: "They would get an F and zero for protection," said Ronald E. Timm, a veteran security consultant who has analyzed the vulnerability of the nation's nuclear laboratories for the Department of Energy. Timm said the Fellows were able to reach "ground zero" for the reactor without difficulty and that the police stop came after the Fellows had already been inside the reactor.