Reed College

ByABC News
July 29, 2005, 7:05 AM

— -- 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 Reed University.

Reactor Name: Reed College Reactor Facility

Began Operating: 1968

Fuel: Low-enriched uranium

Power Level: 250 kW

Location: On the eastern edge of campus, surrounded by other academic buildings and student housing. Five miles from downtown Portland.

Security Observations: No metal detectors. No guards. Exterior building doors were unlocked during the day, locked on weekends. The reactor area itself is behind four locked doors and there are several security cameras, according to a university spokeswoman.

What We Found: The Reed College Web site advertises tours that include the reactor itself. "We also run the reactor at full power so the students can see the Cherenkov radiation (blue glow)." A display case inside the building features photos and scale models of the reactor. The Fellows did not schedule a tour.

University Reaction: The reactor is a "zero-risk facility," and there is no plausible way it is a threat, said Edward Hershey, director of public affairs at Reed College. Although the school has no nuclear engineering department -- or any engineering department for that matter -- chemistry and physics students use it as a resource. Hershey said the reactor is a "bragging point" for Reed. "It's just a neat facility," he said.

Additional Comment: Nuclear security experts say that many universities no longer need their research reactors. "I think it's a prestige subject that no scientist really wants to part with one of his wonderful toys. And a research reactor is in fact a wonderful toy as such," said Fritz Steinhausler, professor of Physics and Biophysics at the University of Salzburg in Austria.