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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Olympic Village Nuclear Site Unnerves Some

ATLANTA -- On the eve of the centennial Games, Atlanta's Olympic village is about as "hot" a place as you can get.


Elite athletes mingle beneath fluttering flags. Rock stars and gospel music groups perform at every turn and the village hair salon has a line of competitors waiting to be made beautiful for television sports fans around the world.


But just outside the village's chain-link fence is one installation which organizers pray doesn't get any hotter -- a nuclear research facility containing highly radioactive material that some claim could pose a serious threat to the Games.


"The general attitude around there is that the city of Atlanta can just fry, along with all the athletes, if anything should happen," said Pamela Blockey-O'Brien, a veteran campaigner against the university reactor facility.


"What you will basically have is a big barbecue, southern-style."


As the last groups of athletes arrived at the village Wednesday, officials at host Georgia Tech University reiterated that the research facility poses no threat to the Olympic Games that are taking place underneath a tight security net.


"Any time you put the nuclear issue together with the Olympics you are going to get media attention," said Robert Hardy, director of communications for the university. "The facility is far removed from the public, and from any terroristic activities that could occur in the area."


But anti-nuclear activists say deadly materials like cobalt are simply too dangerous for an Olympic venue -- and one at the center of a crowded city to boot -- and have left the Atlanta Games with an alarming security hole.


"There is just no safe level of ionizing radiation," said Blockey-O'Brien.


"We've warned them, but now that the Games are about to start the situation there is exactly the same. The cobalt is there, the radioactive heavy water is there.


"If that darn thing, god forbid, is hit [by an attack], then the whole place would go. It would be an unmitigated catastrophe."