SCRIPT: Radioactive Road Trip 10/05

You came in with this big backpack.

MICHAEL ANDERSON

Uh-huh.

BRIAN ROSS

It was full of books.

MICHAEL ANDERSON

Right.

BRIAN ROSS

But did they ask what was in it, or did they look inside it?

MICHAEL ANDERSON

No.

BRIAN ROSS

They didn't put it through any kind of detector?

MICHAEL ANDERSON

No.

BRIAN ROSS

There were two armed guards inside, and our students were told to leave their backpacks outside the reactor itself. Timm says that was a good start but still not good enough.

RONALD TIMM

Did they go through metal detectors?

BRIAN ROSS

No.

RONALD TIMM

So, they could have had the .22 or .25 pistol or maybe even a big pistol.

BRIAN ROSS

It turns out that metal detectors, standard equipment at airports and federal office buildings, are not required at college nuclear reactors, even the ones with weapons-grade uranium, including MIT.

ROY ZIMMERMAN

Where do you stop? How much security do you need?

BRIAN ROSS

Just a metal detector?

ROY ZIMMERMAN

How much security do you need for the potential risk associated with this facility?

BRIAN ROSS

And you think you have enough in place right now at these facilities?

ROY ZIMMERMAN

We do.

BRIAN ROSS

But what we found outside the MIT reactor raised even more questions. A "Primetime" producer rented this moving truck in Boston and drove it across the Charles River to Cambridge. Using the maps and floor plans our students found on the Internet, the truck headed for a dirt alley way along a rail track behind the reactor and was able to pull up and stop unchecked and apparently undetected about 30 feet from the reactor.

BRIAN ROSS

What does this tell you in terms of what do you see as a security point of view?

RONALD TIMM

Bad security. This is bad security.

BRIAN ROSS

Too close?

RONALD TIMM

Oh, way too close. You want to make sure the truck stays away, say, 250 feet minimum.

BRIAN ROSS

250 feet.

RONALD TIMM

Oh, yes.

BRIAN ROSS

And with one of your teams, how long before they have access there?

RONALD TIMM

Parking that vehicle right alongside that would probably take maybe 60 seconds for us to cut a hole big enough to drive the truck and park it in there. For a person going over, it would be 10 seconds.

BRIAN ROSS

The truck was empty, but about the same size used to carry barrels of homemade explosives 10 years ago to the Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

BRIAN ROSS

How quickly should they have detected the truck?

RONALD TIMM

They never should allow the truck to be there.

BRIAN ROSS

You don't see this as serious security?

RONALD TIMM

There is no security there at all.

BRIAN ROSS

The NRC security chief says scientific studies show the MIT reactor, with its heavy shielding, could survive such a close-range truck bomb. But the fact that our truck could get that close was another unhappy surprise for him.

ROY ZIMMERMAN

It's something that I think is worthy of follow-up and we intend on doing that. And if the security plans are not being met or if, in hindsight, there is an additional measure that should be put in place that's not currently there, we want to be able to look at that.

BRIAN ROSS

So this could be valuable to you?

ROY ZIMMERMAN

Yes, very much so.

(Commercial Break)

MICHELLE RABINOWITZ, CARNEGIE FELLOW

We were sent to the Pacific Northwest.

TRACI CURRY, CARNEGIE FELLOW

I'm Traci Curry. And I just graduated from the UC Berkeley School of Journalism.

MICHELLE RABINOWITZ

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