Idaho State University is saying it will have to make some big changes to continue their nuclear research programs if the concealed weapons law in the Idaho Legislature passes.
The university said it asked an outside security company to evaluate what the best options are for ramping up security at the four facilities where it conducts nuclear research. The Washington Times discussed Gov. Butch Otter' and ISU President Arthur Vailas' reactions in this article: http://bit.ly/1coORNi
Howard Grimes, vice president for research and economic development said university officials have discussed several options, including installing metal detectors, upgrading surveillance equipment and beefing up the security personnel. Grimes said despite the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's zero-tolerance policy of guns, it will work closely with the university to make sure the research doesn't stop.
"So if the state decides to allow concealed weapons on campus, our security threshold is going to increase," Grimes said.
There are four facilities where the university conducts nuclear tests: the physical science building houses a test-scale nuclear reactor, the Research and Innovation in Science and Engineering (RISE) complex, the Idaho Accelerator Center (IAC) and the Center for Advanced Energy Studies (CAES) building in Idaho Falls.
"We operate all those facilities under a nuclear regulatory license called a broad scope license," Grimes said. "We are the only institution in the state, other than the Idaho National Lab, to operate under that license"
While Grimes said there are security measures already in place, the university security staff as well as the university leaders continue to ask what they can do to make the university safer, especially in the high-risk facilities.
"Are they enough? Are they ever enough? Those are questions our security people are always asking themselves," Grimes said.
Grimes detailed the types of nuclear research (find more information here: www.engr.isu.edu/nehp/ne/) to explain how important this research is to not only the university but the nation. He said a lot of funding comes from government agencies to boost national security.
"A lot of the technology we do here directly impacts our war fighters and our defense," Grimes said.
The Idaho House State Affairs Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the bill Thursday, Feb. 27. For more information about the bill in question, click on "Related Links."