|A Mark II TRIGA reactor at KSU.|
When news breaks, the number one guy on the Web who wants to influence where the clicks go is Matt Drudge, chief cook and bottle washer at the Drudge Report. If you pop over to Drudge right now, you'll see all the screaming headlines, with just one in particular catching my eye:
The first thing to keep in mind is that the reactor in Austin is on campus at UT, and it's a TRIGA Mark II Research Reactor that was constructed by General Atomics. The reactor was designed to be, in the words of Frederic de Hoffman, "safe even in the hands of a young student." The TRIGA Mark II generally operates between just 0.1 to 16 MWTh. By way of comparison, the average commercial nuclear reactor clocks in at about 1,000 MWe.
Some of our readers might recall how ABC News attempted to generate a cloud of FUD over the potential for terrorists to penetrate the security around research reactors, reasoning that the nuclear fuel could be removed to construct a dirty bomb, even though there isn't anywhere near enough fuel in the reactor to make that happen.
In other words, there's nothing to see here, though I'm sure Mr. Drudge's advertisers are happy that you stopped by.
UPDATE: I just got a short note from NEI Nuclear Notes reader, Art Wharton:
UT had its first TRIGA Mark I reactor in the basement of Taylor Hall(commissioned in the 60's), on main campus. It was decommissioned when the TRIGA Mark II reactor was built up on the JJ Pickle Research Campus ~ 10-15 miles north of main campus. Critical in 1992, it is the newest of all University reactors in the USA, including digital controls and a nice flat-screen display of the rod positions, proudly displaying a Longhorn logo background.
Hook 'em horns.