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More Reaction to ABC News' 'Loose Nukes'

In an op-ed in the Indy Star this week, Lefteri Tsoukalas - head of the nuclear engineering department at Purdue University - condemns ABC News for "cynically exploiting people's instinctive fear of nuclear energy by misrepresenting both the threat from, and the nature of, research reactors such as the one for which I am responsible at Purdue University."

ABC sent college students who were working as journalism interns to a number of university reactor facilities, including the one at Purdue. The idea was to see whether they could get into the facilities and assess security measures.

The interns had no trouble gaining access because we welcome visitors to the reactor. In fact, our Web site and printed literature invite the public to schedule tours, which are conducted by staff trained in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's security measures. The ABC interns saw what any visitor would see. If they had identified themselves as investigative journalists, they would have been given the same tour and the same information.

By the time they had been to two universities, the interns' behavior had given them away, and all the subsequent sites they visited knew their purpose. They still were given escorted tours. Yet ABC's report maintained the fiction that the interns had duped those responsible for security at each of the reactors. It also accepted at face value evaluations of security measures that the interns were not qualified to make.

The network's premise was that the American public is threatened by the ease with which research reactors can be accessed. This is patently false.
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