Utah student arrested for allegedly making nuclear bomb threat if football team lost

·2 min read

A student at the University of Utah was arrested Wednesday after police said she allegedly threatened to detonate a nuclear reactor on campus if the football team lost to San Diego State this past weekend.

The 21-year-old woman allegedly posted "threats of violence" on an app called Yik Yak before the game, according to KSL.com. Police said the student had knowledge of a nuclear reactor on campus and took classes in the same building where the reactor is located.

The student wasn't bluffing about the presence of a reactor — one has been housed in the university's engineering building since 1972. However, the reactor is very small compared to others around the world. It's only about the size of a microwave oven, according to a 2011 article from the Deseret News. It also only generates enough power to heat the thousands of gallons of water its immersed in, according to Utah professor Gary Sandquist.

"There's absolutely no risk," Sandquist said in 2011. "It would probably be a greater risk that we'd have a tsunami from the West Coast that would reach Salt Lake before the reactor would cause any problems."

There are also intense safety measures in place, according to a 2016 article from the Daily Utah Chronicle. Not only is the reactor immersed in water, but the equipment automatically shuts off if the power levels rise above a certain level and bomb squad drills are run monthly.

For what it's worth, Utah did beat San Diego State, 35-7.

This is not the first time a Utah student made a similar threat at the school. A 19-year-old was arrested for making terroristic threats and having a fake ID in August after making a bomb threat directed at the business school building. The student also posted the threat on Yik Yak, which is how police tracked the student down. The student later said the threat was a joke.

Even worse, this isn't the first or second bomb threat associated with Yik Yak, an anonymous social media messaging app founded in 2013. A school in Massachusetts was evacuated twice in March of 2014 for threats on the app, while a high school in California was put on lockdown that same month. The app has also been linked to bullying and other threats of violence.

Utah endured a wild bomb threat before its football game. (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)
Utah endured a wild bomb threat before its football game. (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)