A �PRIMETIME� EXCLUSIVE: BRIAN ROSS LEADS AN ABC NEWS INVESTIGATION
REVEALING SERIOUS SECURITY FLAWS AT MANY UNIVERSITY NUCLEAR RESEARCH
REACTORS ACROSS THE COUNTRY, THURSDAY, OCTOBER 13 ON ABC
In an hour-long �Primetime� special, ABC News Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross reports on the results of a four-month ABC News investigation of security at the country�s twenty-five university nuclear reactors. The investigation -- conducted with the help of ten graduate students selected to participate in a new program sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and assigned to work with Ross and the ABC News Investigative Unit -- found security flaws including unlocked doors, empty guard booths, and guided tours providing easy access to nuclear reactors and reactor control rooms at many of the facilities. �Primetime� airs THURSDAY, OCTOBER 13 (10:00-11:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network.
Following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, university reactors were advised by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to limit access to reactors, conduct background checks on visitors and be on a heightened state of alert. Most of the nation�s university nuclear reactors were built for research purposes in the l960s but have been exempt from the more stringent security regulations required of the larger and more powerful nuclear power plants.
Officials at the NRC acknowledged that in a worst-case scenario, an act of sabotage at a campus nuclear reactor could, in effect, turn a facility into a so-called �dirty bomb.� A dirty bomb uses conventional explosives, such as dynamite, to spread radioactive material. Even a small release of radiation would require blocks and blocks of people to be evacuated, according to Matthew Bunn, a senior researcher at the Belfer Center.
This is the third year that Ross and the ABC News Investigative Unit have examined issues related to potential nuclear terrorism. Ross� previous reports on gaps in port security won the prestigious Columbia-DuPont Award and led to Congressional hearings.
This year�s investigation was part of a groundbreaking new initiative in journalism education, sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Deans at five of the nation�s top universities selected two of their most promising students to work with the award-winning ABC News investigative team for eight weeks.
During the Summer Institute at ABC News, the ten Carnegie Fellows received intensive training in editorial news practices and were given specialized instruction to work with the investigative unit. The entire program was overseen by the senior vice president of editorial quality at ABC News. Throughout their work on this investigation, the fellows were in constant contact with a senior producer in the ABC News Investigative Unit.
The five participating universities are: Graduate School of Journalism, University of California at Berkeley; Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia University; Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University; Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University; and Annenberg School of Communication, University of Southern California.
Ross� report is part of an ABC News week-long investigation into the threat of nuclear terrorism -- �Loose Nukes on Main Street: The New Terror Threat.� In addition to �Primetime,� exclusive reports on the threat, the federal government�s efforts to counter it and what Americans can do to protect themselves in case of an attack began airing last Sunday on ABC News broadcasts, including �Good Morning America,� �World News Tonight,� �Nightline� and �This Week,� as well as on ABC News Radio, ABCNEWS.com and ABC News Now.
DIANE SAWYER, CHRIS CUOMO, CYNTHIA McFADDEN and JOHN QUI�ONES are the anchors of �Primetime.� DAVID SLOAN is the executive producer.