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 Missouri - Columbia.
Reactor Name: University of Missouri Research Reactor
Fuel: Highly enriched uranium
Power Level: 10 MW
Began Operating: 1966
Location: In a large research facility in Research Park, close to the Red Cross, and about a half-mile from the 62,000-seat Memorial Football Stadium and the 15,000-seat Mizzou Arena, the university's basketball stadium. About one mile southwest of the university's main campus and the city's main business district.
Security Observations: Tours are not offered to the general public. There are security cameras, cement barriers and a chain link fence with a guard gate. At night, the guard booth was lit up, but empty.
What We Found: A visit to the facility around 8 p.m. on a Friday, revealed an open side gate to a parking lot, which contained some concrete barriers. The guard booth was lit up, but inside was an empty chair. Walking around and filming the guard booth did not attract any attention. The Fellows did not attempt to enter the building.
University Reaction: Reactor staff would not comment on security issues. University spokesman Christian Basi said the no-talk procedure is "university policy," but said he is confident that the reactor is secure because the safety plan is reviewed on a regular basis. He said since 9/11, the reactor building has added security cameras, a fence and concrete barriers. Campus emergency personnel conduct annual drills at the reactor, and every two years, outside emergency personnel join in the drill as well.
Basi said he was unaware that the Fellows had filmed the reactor building and guard booth. He said the side gate to the visitor's lot is commonly left open and the concrete barriers are there to prevent vehicles from driving up to the building.
Additional Comment: Perimeter security in this case was poor, said Ronald E. Timm, a veteran security consultant who has analyzed the vulnerability of the nation's nuclear laboratories for the Department of Energy.