Tuesday, October 18, 2005

University of Arizona Faults ABC Report

Another university has taken issue with the ABC News report that aired last Thursday on Prime Time Live. This time, it's the University of Arizona that's debunking the assertions made by the network and its interns:

The ABC report said the nuclear fuel contained in the reactor could be used to make a dirty bomb, which would spread radioactive material across the campus.

But UA officials said the TRIGA reactor on campus has been safe since its installation in 1958, and the amount of fuel in the reactor is insufficient for a dirty bomb.

There are also secret security measures in place to prevent such intrusions, said UA spokesman Paul Allvin.

These secret measures, which Allvin called "invisible" to the community, have been approved by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and consistently tested by FBI, Tucson Police Department and State Homeland Security, he said.

Allvin refused to elaborate on what safety protocols are in place, citing that the NRC prohibits releasing such information, but said there are security measures designed to prevent people from taking sensitive materials to create a bomb.

"Just because you can't see the security measures in place doesn't mean that they aren't there," Allvin said.

Allvin characterized the ABC report as inaccurate and sensationalistic. He said the unlocked door identified by ABC was not to the reactor itself but was open to allow students access to an all-night computer lab in the same building.

If someone were to try to enter the room where the reactor is, they would know, he said.
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