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 Maryland.
Reactor Name: University of Maryland Training Reactor (MUTR)
Fuel: Low-enriched uranium
Power Level: 250 kW
Began Operating: 1960
Location: Inside the Chemical and Nuclear Engineering building, near other science buildings. The basketball arena, the 17,950-seat Comcast Center is less than a half-mile away. The campus is about eight miles from downtown Washington, D.C.
Security Observations: No armed guards. No metal detectors. Over a 24-hour period, the main doors to the reactor facility remained open. Reactor room doors were locked.
What We Found: The doors to the reactor building were propped open with a garbage can and remained open throughout the day and night. Once inside the building, the reactor room doors were easily found down a hallway. The doors to the reactor room were locked. Despite surveillance cameras, the Fellows walked around the building with their cameras unchallenged.
Comments: "I think the security is completely perfect here," said Reactor Director Mohamad al-Sheikhly. "I am not concerned at all about the terrorists."
He said that the open doors of the building did not concern him, and may have been left open due to ongoing renovations to the building. The building doors are generally locked after 6 p.m., he said, adding that police patrol the building throughout the day and night "every 30 minutes."
He insisted that the reactor facility is a "building within a building" and that the outer building itself acts as "a buffer zone."
He said that in the unlikely event of an emergency, campus police would be able to respond within minutes, although he added that the campus police do not have a key to the reactor facility.
Additional Comment: "It is virtually no security at all," said Ronald E. Timm, a veteran security consultant who has analyzed the vulnerability of the nation's nuclear laboratories for the Department of Energy. A terrorist could easily enter the building and get through the reactor doors using explosives or tools, Timm said.