Ten students, working for ABC News, visited nuclear reactors on 25 college campuses and found many gaping security holes at many of them, prompting a federal investigation. Here's what the team found at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Reactor Name: L. David Walthousen Lab
Fuel: Low-enriched uranium
Power Level: 0.10 kW
Began Operating: 1964
Location: In Schenectady, N.Y., on the bank of the Mohawk River, a 30-minute drive from the main RPI campus in Troy, N.Y. The stand-alone building is at the rear of a quiet, old industrial park connected to a busy street by an unguarded dirt road.
Security Observations: No access past fence line. There are two entrances to the industrial park -- one is guarded, one is not. No building guards visible. A security camera is pointed at the front gate.
What we found: The reactor building is surrounded by two rings of barbed wire-topped fences with concrete barriers. During a morning and an evening visit, the place was silent. Despite the presence of the security camera, no one questioned the Fellows as they wandered around the gate for about 30 minutes on two separate occasions.
University Reaction: In a statement to ABC News, director of communications Theresa Bourgeois wrote, "In the wake of 9-11, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute reviewed and upgraded security procedures at the David L. Walthousen Lab. For obvious reasons of security, we do not discuss the details of our security procedures at the lab."
Local police are aware of the reactor's presence. "I think it is fairly secure," said Schenectady Police Lt. Brian Kilcullen "My understanding is that the amount of uranium there, the nuclear material or whatever is there, is very small."