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By Rebecca LaFlure, Center for Public Integrity 

Cooling tower at MIT's Nuclear Reactor Lab, in October 2009. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Cooling tower at MIT’s Nuclear Reactor Lab, in October 2009. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

At a research facility some two dozen miles from the White House, government scientists operate a nuclear reactor burning uranium that could be used to build a nuclear weapon. A similar research reactor sits just blocks from where the suspected Boston Marathon bombers gunned down a campus policeman. A third reactor is located in the Midwest, less than a mile from a 71,000-seat college football stadium.

Yet more than a decade after the Sept. 11 attacks, these facilities “are particularly vulnerable to sabotage attack” and are not required to meet tougher standards used by the military to protect its weapons-grade uranium from terrorists, say the authors of a new Pentagon-funded study.

By Justin Elliott, ProPublica

Energy secretary nominee Ernest Moniz  Photo: MIT

Energy secretary nominee Ernest Moniz Photo: MIT

When President Obama nominated Ernest Moniz to be energy secretary earlier this month, he hailed the nuclear physicist as a “brilliant scientist” who, among his many talents, had effectively brought together “prominent thinkers and energy companies” in the continuing effort to figure out a safe and economically sound energy future for the country.

Indeed, Moniz’s collaborative work – best captured in the industry-backed research program he oversaw at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology – is well known. So, too, is his support for Obama’s “all of the above” energy strategy – one that embraces, fossil fuels, nuclear, and renewable energy sources.

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