SCRIPT: Radioactive Road Trip 10/05

Professor Mohammed al-Sheikhly runs the reactor and says even if someone got through these locked doors, he is confident campus police could quickly respond in what he called the highly unlikely event of a terror attack.

BRIAN ROSS

Aren't these outside doors supposed to be locked at night?

PROFESSOR MOHAMMED AL-SHEIKHLY

Not necessarily.

BRIAN ROSS

Not necessarily?

PROFESSOR MOHAMMED AL-SHEIKHLY

Not necessarily.

BRIAN ROSS

The sign says locked.

PROFESSOR MOHAMMED AL-SHEIKHLY

I'm not concerned about this.

BRIAN ROSS

Are you concerned terrorists could ...

PROFESSOR MOHAMMED AL-SHEIKHLY

I am not concerned at all about the terrorists.

BRIAN ROSS

You're not concerned about terrorists.

PROFESSOR MOHAMMED AL-SHEIKHLY

Absolutely not.

DAN HIRSCH

You just wonder what the university president or chancellor is thinking, to have doors wide open all night for a facility that has a nuclear reactor inside. It's just mind boggling.

BRIAN ROSS

Dana and Tamika's final stop was the University of Florida, where the reactor is in the middle of the campus, across the street from the stadium.

DAN HIRSCH

This particular reactor has 93 percent enriched fuel. That's the stuff that a connoisseur would salivate over. It is pure bio-grade material.

BRIAN ROSS

Yet our students here were able to get inside the reactor room itself by simply showing up and asking for a tour.

STUDENT

You're in the right place.

BRIAN ROSS

A student working as a licensed operator opened the first two of three locked doors. They were told to put their cameras away, but their bags were never checked and were left in a hallway just outside the reactor door about ten feet from the nuclear fuel itself. There were no metal detectors, no background checks and no guards as the reactor director himself unlocked the final door for the strangers.

REACTOR DIRECTOR

I don't have much time, but I'll give you maybe 15 minutes.

DANA HUGHES, CARNEGIE FELLOW

He didn't ask for our IDs until right before we went into the reactor, and it was almost, I would say, an afterthought. He said, "Oh, wait, I have to get your IDs."

TAMIKA THOMPSON

He became our key, and we were able to get into all of these rooms through him. If we were terrorists, we wouldn't need to have him let down his guard. He would be doing the same thing at the end of a gun barrel.

BRIAN ROSS

What we found at the University of Florida nuclear reactor is now the subject of an investigation by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, concerned that strangers could get inside so easily.

BRIAN ROSS

What if they're terrorists and they overpower the man?

ROY ZIMMERMAN

Then you're left with the potential for a crude dirty bomb.

BRIAN ROSS

Across the street from a football stadium that on game day holds 88,000 people. The NRC says a dirty bomb here or at any of the university reactors would be unlikely to cause any significant health effects because they're so small, but others who have studied the matter are not so sure, including Professir Graham Allison of Harvard, a former assistant secretary of defense who knows a lot about the dirty bomb.

PROFESSOR GRAHM ALLISON, HARVARD UNIVERSITY

The reactors themselves could become the sources of substantial dirty bombs. It spews radioactivity, and that radioactivity can create radiation sickness. It can significantly increase our chances of getting cancer or leukemia or other diseases.

(Commercial Break)

ANNOUNCER

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