Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Surviving a Nuclear Attack on Washington, D.C.
National Journal ^ | June 24th 2005 | By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.

Posted on 06/24/2005 10:54:52 AM PDT by ExSoldier

WASHINGTON — What if we fail to prevent an attack?

Assume every line of defense against nuclear terrorism is breached: the efforts to lock up nuclear material abroad, to spy out hidden weapons programs, to deter rogue states and capture terrorists, to detect smuggled bombs at the border or downtown — every preventive measure discussed in the previous five installments of this series. Assume someone, somehow, gets all the way through. It only has to happen once.

Assume that this someone puts together a crude atomic bomb, of the “Little Boy” type dropped on Hiroshima in 1945, a heavy and awkward device but one still small enough to fit into a medium-size truck.

Assume that of all the potential targets in the world, from Los Angeles to Moscow, the spot where this someone parks the bomb is on Pennsylvania Avenue, halfway between the White House and the U.S. Capitol.

Assume the bomb goes off. Now what?

The First Minutes: 15,000 Dead

At zero hour, the conventional explosives in the bomb go off. They launch a slug of highly enriched uranium down a surplus artillery tube toward another, larger, but still less-than-critical mass of uranium. As the two come close, the radiation each emits destabilizes atoms in the other, which causes those atoms to split, which emits more radiation, which splits more atoms, which emit more radiation — a nuclear chain reaction. If the bomb makers botched their calculations, the energy released blows the uranium slugs apart too early — a 1-kiloton fizzle, still as powerful as 1,000 tons of TNT, occurs. If the bomb makers got it right, the two uranium masses slam together with sufficient force to reach supercritical mass for a fraction of a second. Depending on the details of the bomb’s design, the resulting explosion has the force of 12,000 to 18,000 tons of TNT — 12 to 18 kilotons.

Parked midway between the White House and the Capitol, the bomb is right in front of the National Archives at 700 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, where the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence are displayed. The Archives is vaporized.  The dust that was the building, the documents, the pavement outside, the Navy Memorial across the street, the bodies — all now highly radioactive — shoots five miles up in the air. Remember that dust: It will start coming back down as “fallout” in about 15 minutes.

In the first second, the blast flattens the Justice Department and the FBI’s headquarters, one block west of the Archives, and the Federal Trade Commission, one block east. The offices of the Internal Revenue Service — less than a quarter-mile west from ground zero — and both wings of the National Gallery of Art — within half a mile southeast — collapse. Northward, the shock wave plows through blocks of office buildings to smash in the southern end of the new Convention Center; southward, it blows through the Museum of Natural History, then races over the Mall — and the tourists on it — to destroy the Smithsonian Castle — 0.41 miles — and damage the Energy Department — at 0.49 miles distant — which oversees the U.S. nuclear programs.

The force of the blast is fading at this range, and as it uses up some of its energy in plowing through one massive building after another. But those same structures are channeling the force of the explosion up and down Pennsylvania Avenue, toward the White House and the Capitol.

The ground-level detonation of a 12-kiloton bomb, the lowest estimated yield for the Hiroshima bomb, produces 5 pounds of pressure per square inch — enough to flatten houses and smash up reinforced concrete or monumental stone buildings — at a distance of about 3,400 feet from ground zero. A 15-kiloton bomb, the middle estimate, produces such force at about 3,700 feet; an 18-kiloton bomb, the extreme high end, at about 3,900 feet. From the midpoint of Pennsylvania Avenue to the center of either the White House or the Capitol is just over 4,000 feet. The Founding Fathers’ obsession with the separation of powers, made physical in L’Enfant’s design for the federal city, puts the seats of the executive and legislative branches a mile and a half apart — by happenstance, just far enough that no single Hiroshima-style device can wreck them both.

Both buildings are badly damaged, however. The White House, low to the ground, partially shielded by the Treasury, and rebuilt with reinforced concrete by President Truman, sustains less damage than the sandstone-and-marble Capitol, exposed high on its hill. But even on the far side of each structure from ground zero, doors blow in, windows explode in showers of glass, walls crack. In rooms overlooking Pennsylvania Avenue, the clothing and skin of victims burn. But these two citadels of democracy stand.

Beyond the Capitol and the White House, the shock wave drops off. How fast?  Hard to tell. No one has ever set off a nuclear weapon at ground level in a city: U.S. bombers detonated the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs nearly 2,000 feet up in the air to ensure maximum destruction unimpeded by obstacles on the ground. Naval Postgraduate School professor Robert Harney calculates that in the densest cities — like Manhattan with its skyscrapers — exploding the device at ground level might cut the radius of destruction by roughly half, compared with a ground burst on a perfectly flat plain; by one-third, estimates the RAND think tank; by a few percent, caution government experts speaking anonymously.

Assume, though, that all the urban uncertainties damp the blast force down to that of a 10-kiloton bomb on an open plain. Almost every building within a half-mile of ground zero collapses onto its occupants. Wood and brick structures collapse, and reinforced concrete or monumental stone structures take heavy damage, at up to two-thirds of a mile, just short of the White House and Capitol. A mile or so away — around Capitol Hill, Farragut Square, and Mount Vernon Square — houses are damaged but mainly still standing, which means most of their occupants survive. Two or three miles away, windows shatter violently from Adams Morgan to Arlington. People who happen to be looking straight at the flash are blinded — most of them temporarily — at 13 or 14 miles out. Hundreds of drivers crash.  According to estimates in the Department of Homeland Security’s unpublished National Planning Scenario No. 1, nearly 15,000 people are dead — 95 percent of them within that lethal half-mile of ground zero — and another 15,000 are injured.

All of this takes less than 15 seconds.

As minutes pass, the electrical power grid reels from the sudden loss of every substation downtown and a surge of electromagnetic pulse up power lines. Fuses blow and safeties trip in “many states,” National Planning Scenario No. 1 guesstimates. Well into West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey, all the lights go out.

And then, across the region, the emergency generators kick in at firehouses, police stations, local emergency operations centers, major hospitals, and military bases. Broken windows aside, the Pentagon remains intact. So does Fort McNair, home to the military’s local homeland defense command, Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region. Said Army Col. James Bartran, JFHQ-NCR’s operations chief, “This area has more capability for responding than anywhere else in the nation; that’s here and ready.” Totally outside the blast zone are Andrews Air Force Base, Bolling Air Force Base, Fort Belvoir, the hospitals at Walter Reed and Bethesda, and even Reagan National Airport. So, too, are the fire, police, and medical services of Alexandria and Arlington and Fairfax counties in Virginia, of Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland, and even District of Columbia responders in the northern and eastern portions of the city.

Hundreds of miles above Washington, military satellites are measuring the explosion and the mushroom cloud. Data fill the screens at Colorado Springs, home of U.S. Northern Command. At Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, and Los Alamos and Sandia laboratories in New Mexico, nuclear weapons scientists turn from the TV news to start software that predicts the fallout path. And at the Homeland Security Department’s alternative command post outside Washington — location undisclosed — dazed functionaries mechanically punch through checklists to assemble an Interagency Incident Management Group. They call agency after agency, backup number after backup number, until they get the military people and the scientists and the emergency managers and the local responders all talking to each other.

The country is already starting to move. So is the fallout. Now everything depends on time.

The First Hours: Your Instincts Can Kill You

Everyone for miles has seen the flash. Everyone can guess what’s happened. Everyone knows the obvious things to do. And most everyone is wrong.

Checking CNN won’t work: The power’s out.

Picking up the phone won’t work: Even if the attack didn’t crash the network, everyone’s calls to 911 or to their family will.

Jumping into your car won’t work: A few hundred thousand people just had the same idea — imagine rush hour, only with most stoplights out and the streets downtown blocked by rubble.

Even professional lifesavers have to fight their instincts. Rushing to the rescue won’t work:  More than 15,000 people are injured — that’s more than all the firefighters — paid and volunteer combined — and hospital beds in the D.C. area. Besides, most victims are trapped inside several square miles of burning, collapsed, or tottering buildings, with the streets to reach them gridlocked.

And while people are fighting traffic, either to flee ground zero or to get there to help, the fallout is starting to come down.

Everyone’s first reaction is wrong because the problem is not, in fact, the nuclear blast. If at this point you’re still alive and uninjured — and after a Hiroshima-sized explosion at ground level, 99 percent of the people in the D.C. area are — then your real problem is the radioactive dust that the blast threw into the air. According to the estimates in National Planning Scenario No. 1, an explosion that kills 15,000 people outright could eventually expose 200,000 people to lethal doses of radiation if they stay exposed and unprotected in the fallout path for 24 hours. Sitting downwind in gridlock, with your vehicle’s windshield shattered, goes a long way toward giving you a lethal dose. All sorts of simple alternatives — moving away from downwind, seeking proper shelter, even taking a shower — go a long way toward saving you.

Fallout is simply radioactive dust, launched miles into the air in a mushroom cloud and then carried on the wind. Much of it is alpha particles, whose radiation cannot penetrate bare skin, or beta particles, which cannot penetrate layers of clothing. Both are most dangerous if inhaled — or if they settle on food that is eaten unwashed. More deadly are the gamma rays, whose radiation can go through walls. But even gammas cannot hurt you from cloud height. The danger starts when the dust settles to earth.

The ideal is to avoid the fallout in the first place. In apocalyptic gridlock, you cannot drive very far. But you may not have to.  Normal winds blow the cloud into a long but narrow plume, just a few miles across. In typical Washington-area weather, Virginia, Montgomery County in Maryland, and most of the District itself are not in the fallout path at all. People in the path could conceivably walk out of the fallout zone in the 10 or 15 minutes before the dust begins to fall — if they know which way to go.

But, of course, you cannot count on perfectly typical weather. The wind might shift; the breeze you feel at ground level may be blowing crosswise to the radioactive clouds five miles up; a still day might cause the fallout to seep outward slowly in all directions; sudden rain or snow could wash the dust out of the sky, heavily dousing everything beneath the storm but sparing areas farther out.

If you do not want to trust in weather and traffic, the alternative is what the experts call “sheltering in place.” You want to be in a building, as solid as possible to block the gamma rays, as airtight as possible to keep out radioactive dust. You need to turn off air conditioning, close vents, seal the seams around windows and doorways. If you wondered what former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge was talking about, this is what you need the duct tape for. Abandon rooms with windows broken by the blast.

The dust that does not seep into the building will settle outside, on the roof and on the ground, emitting gamma rays. A car with an intact windshield stops 30 to 50 percent of the radiation — probably not enough, however, to save someone who’s inside the car and stuck in traffic a few miles downwind of ground zero. A wood-frame house, similarly, stops just 30 to 60 percent of gamma rays. A windowless basement stops 90 percent.  The middle floors of a concrete apartment building, safely away from both roof and ground, stop 99 percent or more. But there is no 100 percent protection.

For those whom evacuation and shelter fail — or for those, like the thousands fleeing in blind panic, who never try either — there is still decontamination. A lethal dose of radiation takes time to build. The sooner the radioactive dust is off the skin, the better. And it is not that hard to remove.  “Radiation contamination is easier than chemical,” said Col. David Jarrett, a medical doctor and the director of the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute in Bethesda. “Simply removing the clothes and washing takes off up to 90 percent.”

Every major Washington-area hospital has some decontamination facilities, but 10,000 radiation patients in one day would swamp them. So mass decontamination falls to fire departments, with their mobile pumps and generators; their protective gear; their hazardous-materials experience; and, because both Maryland and Virginia have nuclear power reactors, their years of radiation training. Area firefighters can quickly set up special decontamination tents, and they have plans to take over buildings that have lots of showers — so high school gyms, for example, are a good place to head for. In the chaos of those first hours, said Michael Cline, state coordinator at the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, “the real key is to make sure people go to those facilities.” It will take every firefighter available to man the decontamination sites, and every cop to control the crowds pouring in panic out of the city.

So who goes in to save the wounded? Even if first responders can get downtown in time to save blast victims, they still have to get back out before radiation claims both rescued and rescuer alike. Breathing masks keep alpha particles out of the lungs, protective clothes keep betas off the skin, but nothing light enough to wear can keep out gammas. Responders have radiation sensors, modeling software, and Energy or Defense Department analysts on call to map the radiation plume, plus dosimeters to measure their own exposure. Existing safety standards, written for nuclear power plant accidents, mandate “turn-back limits” on lifesaving runs into the fallout zone.

“Responders are going to have to assess risk relative to lives saved,” said Fairfax County Fire Chief Michael Neuhard. “It may well be that you are committed largely to decontamination, to treating people on the periphery.” Tens of thousands of people fleeing the city could be saved by decontamination. Tens of thousands of others downwind will need help evacuating or finding shelter. Sending rescue workers into the fallout zone will probably cost more lives than it will save.

“We need people to be able to take care of themselves for 72 hours,” said Lara Shane, director of public education for the Homeland Security Department. For any disaster, from nuke to hurricane, DHS advises stockpiling a three-day supply of food and water, a flashlight, and a radio — a battery-powered radio. The power is out; most stations are off the air. But government transmitters and a few private channels will be broadcasting on backup generators. And everything and everyone, from satellites to Energy Department survey planes to local firefighters, are trying to track the fallout plume. At some point — in minutes with good planning, in hours without it — those little battery-powered radios will come alive with urgent bulletins: where the cloud is drifting, what areas should evacuate, what roads are open, and where people can find shelter or decontamination sites.

And all this time, the radiation that keeps the helpers out of downtown, and the victims in it, is fading. By the physicists’ rule of thumb, 90 percent is gone in seven hours, 99 percent in seven times seven — that is, 49 — hours, or two days; and 99.9 percent in seven times seven times seven hours, or two weeks: the civil defense “all-clear” standard from the Cold War.

The First Days: Nation in Motion

Find a small pond. Throw a big rock in it. Now watch the ripple effect.

That, in essence, is the United States after a nuclear terrorist attack. In the early hours, disaster and response alike are local, limited by wind speed and gridlocked highways. In days, the effects convulse the entire country.

With perfectly average weather — a big assumption — the fallout spreads to the east and north along a path 200 miles long and 25 miles wide, drifting out to sea north of Atlantic City, before its radioactivity fades below the National Response Plan’s threshold for increased risk of cancer — 1 rem, which is one-fifth of the acceptable annual dose for nuclear power workers; the rem is the standard unit of measurement for human exposure to radioactivity. Real-world uncertainty about shifts in the wind keeps millions of people on alert to evacuate or take shelter, anxiously following broadcast bulletins as if awaiting a particularly violent hurricane — but without the years of planning that guide Gulf Coast evacuations. Local governments, the Red Cross, and the National Guard struggle to control, feed, shelter, and in some cases decontaminate what National Planning Scenario No. 1 guesstimates to be half a million displaced people. With local hospitals overflowing or contaminated, thousands of patients are shipped out across the country — the less sick they are, the farther they go — to military, veterans, and private medical centers activated under the National Disaster Medical System.

As victims ripple outward from the fallout zone, rescuers are converging inward. The first responders are reeling now. Many are dosed with radiation despite taking precautions, most are using contaminated equipment. All are exhausted from working nonstop shifts wearing heavy protective gear. But as the front line crumbles, reinforcements from the next ring of counties step forward, and from the next county after that, and then the next state, and the next.

“What you have kicking in is something called statewide mutual aid,” said Arlington Fire Chief James Schwartz, who commanded units from four counties at the Pentagon on 9/11. “As Arlington has depleted its capability helping the District, its emergency management system would contact the state: You could see units from Fredericksburg or Richmond coming into Northern Virginia.” A parallel system exists in Maryland.  Nationwide, the District and every state but California and Hawaii are party to the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, which provides databases and advance teams to match what disaster-struck states request with what unaffected states can offer. Federal resources, civilian and military, rally under the National Response Plan.

Across the country, firefighters, paramedics, police, soldiers, and volunteers are loading up their trucks and rolling toward Washington. The resources the nation can mobilize are staggering. The United States has more than 155,000 emergency medical technicians, 600,000 police and sheriff’s deputies, a million firefighters, 1.6 million active-duty military troops, and 1.1 million in the Reserves and National Guard. Taking just 10 percent of those people from their regular duties equals a midsized city of rescuers. The Red Cross alone mustered nearly 55,000 volunteers for 9/11. And in this sea of numbers are countless islands of specialized capabilities. Washington-area jurisdictions have mobile communications vans and generators. Virginia alone has 13 state-sponsored hazardous-materials teams with radiation-monitoring equipment.

The Energy Department has several airplanes and helicopters equipped to monitor fallout from the air, and rapidly deployable teams of nuclear scientists. The Homeland Security Department controls a Strategic National Stockpile of medical supplies prepacked to be moved by air. And the military has all of this and more: mobile hospitals, hazard-suited rescue units, radiation sensors, mobile water purification, warehouses full of Meals Ready to Eat, and the trucks, planes, and helicopters to transport them around the world. In a few days, just as the radiation ebbs, all this aid flows in.

The greatest challenge, in fact, is not getting the resources but coordinating them. At the World Trade Center on 9/11 — one incident in one jurisdiction — firefighters and police had neither radios nor procedures designed to work together. The Pentagon response that day was smoother, with four neighboring jurisdictions reinforcing Arlington’s Fire Chief Schwartz. And “since Sept. 11, we’ve really made a concerted effort on interoperability,” said Scott Graham, a battalion chief in Montgomery County. “Communications within the region have improved greatly.”

But even now, Washington-area agencies sometimes have to physically swap radios to talk on each other’s networks. And nationwide, no common channel, no standard protocol links either local governments or federal agencies.

The nation has, at least, adopted a common framework that organizes all of these assets. Under the Incident Command System — developed by local firefighters, endorsed by Homeland Security, and being taught to federal civilians and the military alike — the local government of the stricken area has command. Units from neighboring jurisdictions answer requests from the local chief. So do the federal agencies — from Energy to Health and Human Services to the Environmental Protection Agency to Defense. They are grouped according to 15 functions by the National Response Plan, and all of them are, in theory, coordinated by a “principal federal official” named by the secretary of Homeland Security. “Issues beyond the secretary’s authority to resolve,” the National Response Plan says unhelpfully, “are referred to the appropriate White House entity for resolution.”

How well this structure comes together after a nuclear explosion is unknown. “Many times, in national exercises,” said Red Cross Executive Vice President Alan McCurry, “we stop before we get to this part.”

The First Weeks: Thousands Fall Ill

By the 14th day after the attack, power should be back on across most of the area. Radiation levels fall to a thousandth of their peak. Rescue workers from across the country are in place and, one hopes, organized. But now, depending on how well sheltering, evacuation, and decontamination went in the first hours after the attack, tens of thousands of exposed people start to die.

“Most of the deaths occur at two-to-four weeks after the incident,” said Col. Jarrett, citing studies of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and nuclear power accidents. Victims will start vomiting a few hours after exposure, but then they enter a latent phase: “They have a couple of weeks before they start becoming clinically ill, and they can be moved to treatment centers across the country, not as patients, but as passengers,” said Jarrett. The bad news is, there is no cure for radiation sickness — not yet, anyway.

Radiation sickness is strange and slow. A high enough dose of radiation can kill in hours, but anyone close enough to get that much is probably dead from the explosion. The less intense energy of the fallout bombards the body and breaks random bits of DNA. Until the cells can repair their genetic code, they cannot divide to make new cells. That’s it:  “All that radiation does is stop cells from dividing,” said Evan Douple, a health physicist with the National Academy of Sciences. "It doesn’t kill them.”

But a few tissues have such high wear and tear that they need new cells constantly. The most obvious, and least essential, is the hair follicles, which explains why cancer patients lose their hair during radiation therapy. Another one is the lining of the digestive tract. At a dose of 1,000 rems or more — 200 times the maximum permitted for nuclear reactor workers in a year, the lining stops regrowing. In seven to 10 days, the lining wears right through, causing infection and internal bleeding. At a dose of a few hundred rems, the bone marrow stops replenishing white blood cells for the immune system and platelets for clotting. After a few weeks, minor injuries continue to bleed and infections fester unchecked.

Specialized treatments do exist. The best known is potassium iodide, stockpiled for the population around nuclear power plants and sold on survivalist Web sites as “antiradiation pills.” Atomic reactions produce radioactive iodide, which accumulates in the thyroid gland, particularly in growing children, eventually causing cancer. Flooding the body with good iodide keeps out the bad. Unfortunately, it does nothing about the dozens of other radioactive isotopes in the fallout from an atomic bomb, which will kill you long before you can develop cancer.

The National Stockpile also includes chelating agents — most famously a substance known as “Prussian blue” for its normal use, as a dye — which chemically bind with certain types of radioactive particles inhaled from the fallout cloud and flush them from the body. Scarce and expensive, chelators still do nothing to reverse the damage done before you take them.

Once the immune system is compromised, the only treatment available today is intensive care: infusions of antibiotics to control infection, platelets to control bleeding, and, at the cutting edge, hormonal growth factors to jumpstart the recovery of bone marrow. This regime has saved victims of radiation accidents — if started promptly, under a doctor’s supervision, in a fully equipped hospital. There is no way to provide that standard of care for tens of thousands of victims.

The government has ramped up its research into the next generation of growth factors, which would regenerate bone marrow without the traditional panoply of other treatments. The Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute sees the most promise so far in a steroid called 5-Androstenediol, brand-named “Neumune” by the institute’s corporate development partner, Hollis-Eden Pharmaceuticals. Neumune requires no refrigeration, has no known side effects, and can be packaged in disposable needles like the nerve gas antidotes now issued to troops and first responders. Five injections over five days dramatically boost survival rates in animals.

So far, unfortunately, that first injection has to be given within four hours of exposure, before the damage to cells outraces the capacity for regrowth. But it is probably impossible to distribute tens of thousands of stockpiled doses across a fallout zone within four hours; and Hollis-Eden’s own cost estimates for mass production are $75 to $100 per person: too high to put Neumune in every citizen’s emergency kit. The current cost and the four-hour window wouldn’t impede first responders, however. With Neumune in their gear, they could be far bolder in fallout-zone rescue operations.

Long-Term Costs

The high toll of a nuclear attack continues long after the fires die down. In the worst case — no one gets to shelter, no one evacuates, no one is decontaminated — National Planning Scenario No. 1 estimates that radiation-damaged DNA will manifest, eventually, as 50,000 cases of cancer, half of them fatal. People keep dying for decades.

The scenario does not even guess the economic cost. Abt Associates, a research and consulting firm in Cambridge, Mass., estimates $150 billion to $3 trillion for the loss of life alone, plus up to $500 billion in property damage. The indirect disruptions ripple unpredictably through the world economy. Just closing the highways and rail lines through Washington costs shippers $5 billion a week. And in contrast to the swift federal response to stabilize the financial markets after 9/11, the Treasury and other key agencies may be too badly damaged and decimated to intervene quickly. “If there’s a long gap between the attack and the ability of the federal government to start running in a normal way,” said Goldman Sachs Vice Chairman Robert Hormats, “that has a very serious economic impact, psychologically in particular.”

How long before the seat of government is restored — if it is restored? “When you go back depends on what standards you use,” said Thomas Cochran, a physicist at the Natural Resources Defense Council. The traditional approach to cleanup is to demolish badly contaminated buildings, which would include the White House and the Capitol, scrub every surface of the rest, then dig up the top few inches of asphalt and soil and cart all of it away, if anywhere will take it. Meeting the EPA standard for public safety — no more than 15 millirem of radiation exposure per year — would cost trillions of dollars for a midsized city, according to a study led by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory researcher Barbara Reichmuth. But the cost drops by half or more when the acceptable threshold is raised to 100 or, better, 500 millirem, which is still just 10 percent of the 5-rem level approved for nuclear reactor workers. The nation may well develop a new tolerance for radiation hazards.

Overall, though, it is impossible to calculate the total cost of a nuclear attack on Washington, because that cost depends on what is done in the first hours, days, and weeks after the attack, which in turn depends on what is done in the years before. If fallout places hundreds of thousands of people at lethal risk, then improving the response by just 1 percent saves thousands of lives. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, for example, has proposed running computer models of various combinations of nuclear yield and weather conditions for selected cities, providing baseline scenarios for planners. That data might allow radio announcements about shelters and evacuation to air a few crucial minutes faster. So might more drills, better communications, or a clearer chain of command.

The odds of a nuclear attack are low. But experts say the huge potential cost of such an attack merits more preparation. And such preparation would save lives in more-likely disasters. Research into drugs to heal irradiated bone marrow could spin off into treatments for immune disorders such as AIDS. Predictive models, decontamination gear, and public-warning systems for nuclear fallout would be useful in a reactor leak, a nerve gas attack, or an ordinary chemical spill. More hospital beds would help with outbreaks of anthrax, smallpox, or avian flu. Compatible radios and common training for emergency responders would make a difference every time a cop or firefighter responded to a call across the county line. A battery-powered radio would be handy anytime the lights went out. In the worst-case nuclear disaster, these everyday defenses would matter that much more. It might be wise to think how best to use them.

“It’s not good enough anymore to plan to do these plans,” said Shelley Hearne, director of the Trust for America’s Health, a nonpartisan group that advocates building a strong public health infrastructure. “Everyone hates this conversation; but I get even madder when I see how little we deal with it. There are things we can do, and do well — and it’s OK to talk about it.”


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Extended News; Foreign Affairs; Government; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events; US: District of Columbia; US: Maryland; US: Virginia; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: 291; 297; 319; 360; dc; district; jm; nuclear; nuclearattack; nuclearbomb; nuclearsurvival; nuke; nukebomb; nukes; preparedness; shelter; sheltering; shelteringinplace; survival; survivalist; survive; surviving; survivinganuke; thedistrict; washdc; washingtondc; wdc
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first previous 1-50 ... 151-200201-250251-300 ... 451-482 next last
To: justanotherfreeper
thank you for posting this. Information that could save a life.<.I>

You're right. There's some interesting counterintuitive stuff in there...

201 posted on 06/24/2005 8:21:29 PM PDT by GOPJ (Deep Throat(s) -- top level FBI officials playing cub reporters for suckers.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: nina0113

Every bakery gets fillings and toppings in 5 gal. pails. Should be able to get all you could ever want for half a buck or a dollar each. Clean them out with hot water and they're ready for use.


202 posted on 06/24/2005 8:23:39 PM PDT by meatloaf
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 33 | View Replies]

To: JAKraig

Cockroaches do reportedly do well in the face of such, alright.


203 posted on 06/24/2005 8:27:28 PM PDT by Quix (LOVE NEVER FAILS.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 150 | View Replies]

To: kevao

I think I'm of the same opinion.

They'd sooner riot over some rock star or loss of some hideous new 'right' than something substantial.


204 posted on 06/24/2005 8:29:03 PM PDT by Quix (LOVE NEVER FAILS.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 154 | View Replies]

To: backtothestreets

I agree.

And, while we are at it . . . prevent Pols from serving more than 8-12 years. And, perhaps fine them for staying away from their constituencies longer than XX days at a time.

And, part of me, would change the Presidency from 2 possible 4 year terms to one 5 or 6 year term.

Then, how to limit campaigning to 60 days?

And every law that requires money be spent also have to have a sunset provision. And the more money, the sooner the at least review if not revoting.

Ah welll, idle speculations. So much will be destroyed. Sometimes I wonder if God intends to start over with a very aggrarian society world wide. AT least, with Christ in charge, Goodness will abound vs the pollution of evil that now spreads like cancer.


205 posted on 06/24/2005 8:33:53 PM PDT by Quix (LOVE NEVER FAILS.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 155 | View Replies]

To: brazzaville

If you ever come across a collection, an anthology edited by Pournelle titled something about FREEDOM, PLEASE LET ME KNOW. I'd love another copy of it.

The one I had got . . . gifted or lifted in Mainland China. Which . . . was a good place for it to be read!


206 posted on 06/24/2005 8:35:27 PM PDT by Quix (LOVE NEVER FAILS.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 163 | View Replies]

To: TChad

I agree.

But we, as a people, especially sprinkled so liberally with liberal traitors--will not have the resolve even if more gain the insights.

Sigh.


207 posted on 06/24/2005 8:37:04 PM PDT by Quix (LOVE NEVER FAILS.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 171 | View Replies]

To: backtothestreets

And why not bury the working areas of such places underground with great atriums and other sunlight enhancing technological treatments. Better heating, cooling, sound etc. as well as safer.

Public nonworking areas could be above ground in grand forms.

I understand that after all our super blasts at the palace over one of Saddam's German engineered bunkers, the bunker itself was totally unscathed.

10-20' of concrete roof; on springs etc.

Seems to me, even the President's residence could be constructed such that most of it was below ground.

And perhaps even the above ground parts could be designed to sink under a blast door within 60-120 seconds or some such.

Idle musings. No such will be done. Then it won't be necessary. Perhaps until the enemy is loosed for testing the folks at the end of the 1000 years of peace.


208 posted on 06/24/2005 8:44:31 PM PDT by Quix (LOVE NEVER FAILS.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 188 | View Replies]

To: RinaseaofDs

Agreed.

Except that I'm inclined to agree with the defectors who insist that Russia's fall is a planned trap and not what it's cracked up to be.


209 posted on 06/24/2005 8:45:52 PM PDT by Quix (LOVE NEVER FAILS.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 189 | View Replies]

To: winodog

Good point.

Perhaps something slightly better than public housing in concrete with no paint.

Let truly servant hearted public servants only apply.


210 posted on 06/24/2005 8:46:55 PM PDT by Quix (LOVE NEVER FAILS.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 191 | View Replies]

To: hoagy62

Sensible enough to me.

Alas, the puppet masters have other plans.


211 posted on 06/24/2005 8:48:03 PM PDT by Quix (LOVE NEVER FAILS.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 192 | View Replies]

To: winodog
I agree moderate accommodations, and with the exception of the President and Vice-President, all members of Congress should live outside the city. That in itself would bring a level of continuity if an attack ever did succeed.
212 posted on 06/24/2005 9:38:41 PM PDT by backtothestreets
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 191 | View Replies]

To: Blzbba
"Assume every line of defense against nuclear terrorism is breached:
Considering how criminally easy it was for 15 Saudis to fly planes into buildings, this is an easy assumption to make."

Actually harder to protect against jet liners than a ground nuke. A bunch of area's of major cities have been set up with radiation detectors for years now.

Very sensitive. Driving a bomb into D.C. is harder than flying one in. I am sure the bad guys know this too. That is why bio/chem is more likely in a metro area.
213 posted on 06/24/2005 9:42:04 PM PDT by JSteff
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 28 | View Replies]

To: Quix
Ah welll, idle speculations. So much will be destroyed. Sometimes I wonder if God intends to start over with a very aggrarian society world wide. AT least, with Christ in charge, Goodness will abound vs the pollution of evil that now spreads like cancer.

I have a similar thought. When a society gets so far advanced with technology without the morals/ethics of putting it to good use, they tend to self destruct. When you think about it with things like biotechnology, nanotechnology and so on, I think we are getting too cocky and setting ourselves up for a great fall. Also factor in that the world is explored, with maybe a small pocket here and there untouched, so there is really no new land to colonize or run to, the next thing is space exploration to expand. We had a chance in the 1970's with setting up bases and colonies on the Moon but we pulled back, in some ways, we are no further ahead in space than we were in the early 1960's. If you factor all that in, we could have a big fall and adding even more, or decline of morals and standards. I do wonder if God is going to knock us down a peg or two, but if He doesn't do it, we certainly will and we will end up having to start again. Think if it as a "reset button." Myself, I lean towards the belief that we had a couple of technical civilizations in the past that destroyed themselves and we just started up the long ladder again. Think Atlantis and the stories there, I do see some parallels to that.
214 posted on 06/24/2005 9:53:05 PM PDT by Nowhere Man (Lutheran, Conservative, Neo-Victorian/Edwardian, Michael Savage in '08! - DeCAFTA-nate CAFTA!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 205 | View Replies]

To: Yo-Yo

Sterling Holloway in the twighlight zone.


215 posted on 06/24/2005 9:53:23 PM PDT by Walkingfeather
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: ExSoldier
"A much better solution, IMHO is to use your solution but neutron warheads. "

Didn't we destroy our neutron warheads after one nuke reduction or another?

I agree with your gist but just to clear up some things; from what I understand oil is able to be be cleaned of radiation effects at relatively low cost. Remember only stuff on the surface would be in direct risk of contamination... if particles got into it.

The rest of it is underground (very few oil strip mines) so would fare better than the workers at the refineries and well sites. The majority of the oil wells and refineries are outside the cites so would be mostly unaffected.
216 posted on 06/24/2005 9:55:15 PM PDT by JSteff
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 32 | View Replies]

To: All

I do find the ideals for a new capital and it setup fascinating, would be cool to try it in SimCity. On a side note, I always liked the idea of houses partially underground, it would be good to have in places like tornado alley. There were hints at that idea when I read an article from the microfilms of the New York Times a few days after Hiroshima where the writers were speculating underground cities and people "living like Troglodytes."


217 posted on 06/24/2005 9:59:04 PM PDT by Nowhere Man (Lutheran, Conservative, Neo-Victorian/Edwardian, Michael Savage in '08! - DeCAFTA-nate CAFTA!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 214 | View Replies]

To: Quix
I personally dislike term limits because they affect the good along with the bad. Like many others, I'd like to see the likes of Ted Kennedy out of office. I don't blame the Massachusetts voters as much as I blame Republican Senators for bargaining with him. Ted Kennedy keeps getting reelected because he delivers for the majority of voters in his state. That would change if the alliances he makes with Republican Senators trying to win approval on one pet project or another stopped seeking his support. Their compromises keep Kennedy in office.

And a single six year term for the President would mean he was a lame duck from the day he is elected. That's a part of why Mexico cannot seem to improve. Their President is limited to a single term. Since Eisenhower, the nation has had to suffer the effect of lame-duck presidencies because of term limits. Four have been Republican, and one a Democrat.

I like your 60 day campaigning idea and sunset spending provisions. Those would be a welcomed relief.

Don't think of ideas as idle speculations. The seeds of our Republic were planted long before our Forefathers took up the idea. We might be planting the seeds of tomorrow.
218 posted on 06/24/2005 10:00:16 PM PDT by backtothestreets
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 205 | View Replies]

To: Quix

Yes, we could build much of the city underground. Building such a city would create new technologies for cities that would have nations around the world seeking our solutions and further enhancing our economy.

Though I likely won't see it, I'd believe someday something along these lines of thought will be done.


219 posted on 06/24/2005 10:04:14 PM PDT by backtothestreets
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 208 | View Replies]

To: Jonathan

You've got my vote and we don't need them to nuke DC to do it.


220 posted on 06/24/2005 10:09:56 PM PDT by KingofQue
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: nina0113

Get out.


221 posted on 06/24/2005 10:14:56 PM PDT by KingofQue
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 25 | View Replies]

To: ExSoldier

Most of the arab cities are far away from the oil. Talk about war or blood for oil.


222 posted on 06/24/2005 10:18:54 PM PDT by KingofQue
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 32 | View Replies]

To: ExSoldier

If this actually happens, it is open season on muslims, no limit.


223 posted on 06/24/2005 10:21:02 PM PDT by KingofQue
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Blzbba

That's OK. They are next.


224 posted on 06/24/2005 10:25:14 PM PDT by KingofQue
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 41 | View Replies]

To: cvq3842

Maybe we should instill that fear in them.


225 posted on 06/24/2005 10:31:53 PM PDT by KingofQue
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 68 | View Replies]

To: Modernman

Sorry, you're dead.


226 posted on 06/24/2005 10:35:09 PM PDT by KingofQue
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 83 | View Replies]

To: BeHoldAPaleHorse

It's a suitcase nuke, it already has the plutonium.


227 posted on 06/24/2005 10:43:01 PM PDT by KingofQue
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 115 | View Replies]

To: JAKraig

Let's do it now and forget the DC part.


228 posted on 06/24/2005 10:48:44 PM PDT by KingofQue
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 131 | View Replies]

To: ExSoldier

when I hear "ALLAH AKBAR!!" ....I duck and cover.


229 posted on 06/24/2005 10:51:44 PM PDT by antmanbee
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: antmanbee

When I hear Allah Akbar I reach for my Glock.


230 posted on 06/24/2005 11:05:19 PM PDT by KingofQue
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 229 | View Replies]

To: KingofQue

half the world is crazy and the other half is scared...Phil Ochs from "tape from California"


231 posted on 06/24/2005 11:17:48 PM PDT by antmanbee
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 230 | View Replies]

To: antmanbee
when I hear "ALLAH AKBAR!!" ....I duck and cover.

When I hear ALLAHU AKBAR ..... I......draw and prepare to engage......

I'm a sheepdog

232 posted on 06/24/2005 11:37:25 PM PDT by ExSoldier (Democracy is 2 wolves and a lamb voting on dinner. Liberty is a well armed lamb contesting the vote.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 229 | View Replies]

To: JSteff
Didn't we destroy our neutron warheads after one nuke reduction or another?

Jimmy Carter ordered the stockpiles dismantled, but I'd bet that a smarter President secretly ordered them reconstituted. Ronald Reagan as President was no fool. I'll bet we've got a few laying around somewhere.

Even if they're not, it would be a snap to get them back online and updated of course.

My father in law has a Ph.d in nuclear physics, and he's convinced of both assertions above.

233 posted on 06/24/2005 11:45:12 PM PDT by ExSoldier (Democracy is 2 wolves and a lamb voting on dinner. Liberty is a well armed lamb contesting the vote.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 216 | View Replies]

To: backtothestreets

I can certainly imagine it.

Will see what God brings about, allows.


234 posted on 06/25/2005 2:53:36 AM PDT by Quix (LOVE NEVER FAILS.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 219 | View Replies]

To: backtothestreets

Well said on all points.

THX for your kind words.

I have often thought that there should be a provision for the top 1% or 3% or 5% of elected officials to be allowed to serve half again or twice as long as the rest.

The criteria for deciding top X% should include humility, selflessness, objectivity, utter lack of corruption by special interests, faithfulness to the Constitution, wisdom and the like. Perhaps 45% of the decision to be decided by voters nationally and 55% to be decided by a grass roots citizens group selected somewhat like a jury but made up of acclaimed hard working citizens known for their humility, wisdom, selflessness, fairness, discernment etc. in their locales. Almost each locale has such people. But by definition, they don't seek acclaim. Let them decide key personnel issues for potentially longer terms [I typed "germs" first] of elected officials.


235 posted on 06/25/2005 2:59:27 AM PDT by Quix (LOVE NEVER FAILS.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 218 | View Replies]

To: Nowhere Man

Agreed.

And, evidently there were civilizations in the Indus valley eons ago with flight and nukes.


236 posted on 06/25/2005 3:01:22 AM PDT by Quix (LOVE NEVER FAILS.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 214 | View Replies]

To: Black Tooth

Maybe you misunderstood me. I never said they would never be able to do it.

Just that the probably can't, yet. Or they are somewhere in the pre-execution stages. Since it has not happened yet.

My point really was that I don't see anything in the terrorists' makeup that would make them say "we could do this, but we will refrain from doing so."

In other words, once they can, they will almost certainly try.

And you are right - we don't know how close they are. Could be minutes away for all we know.

Thanks for letting me clarify.

Stay safe.


237 posted on 06/25/2005 4:08:53 AM PDT by cvq3842
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 152 | View Replies]

To: KingofQue

Absolutely!

It worked to keep the Soviets at bay . . .


238 posted on 06/25/2005 4:09:37 AM PDT by cvq3842
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 225 | View Replies]

To: ExSoldier
Since I live N.E. of Detroit, I wonder if my boss would want me to come in to work the next day......

I'll ask him Monday, its always best to have the answers to these types of questions before anything really happens.....

239 posted on 06/25/2005 4:21:39 AM PDT by Hot Tabasco (I've never been able to figure out why we need toenails....)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ExSoldier

Problem with most radios is that the electromagnetic pulse from the bomb will fry the silicon. A battery powered tube radio would be nice, as well as lots of batteries because those things are battery hungry.


240 posted on 06/25/2005 4:31:26 AM PDT by HiTech RedNeck (No wonder the Southern Baptist Church threw Greer out: Only one god per church! [Ann Coulter])
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: HiTech RedNeck
Problem with most radios is that the electromagnetic pulse from the bomb will fry the silicon.

That poses an interesting question: Would EMP also fry a radio that was powered by a hand crank? If it's components were microchips, I'm betting yes.

241 posted on 06/25/2005 7:13:43 AM PDT by ExSoldier (Democracy is 2 wolves and a lamb voting on dinner. Liberty is a well armed lamb contesting the vote.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 240 | View Replies]

To: Quix
And, evidently there were civilizations in the Indus valley eons ago with flight and nukes.

I've heard and read that too, there was green glass discovered in many places there and perhaps scores of skeletons as well and some say this is the mark of an atomic weapons used in a long time ago, perhaps like 11,000 years ago. Isn't it ironic that it could happen again with India and Pakistan?
242 posted on 06/25/2005 8:27:38 AM PDT by Nowhere Man (Lutheran, Conservative, Neo-Victorian/Edwardian, Michael Savage in '08! - DeCAFTA-nate CAFTA!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 236 | View Replies]

To: Recovering Hermit

End of the world and his glasses are broken?


243 posted on 06/25/2005 8:33:30 AM PDT by GOPJ (Deep Throat(s) -- top level FBI officials playing cub reporters for suckers.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: ExSoldier
Sorry, don't mean to sound snide. But some of the reactions to this thread are depressing. Freepers certainly seem jaded and embittered. ~sigh~ We've attracted a lot of "too cute by half" types recently. Usually that type of personality is liberal. I have no idea why they're here other than to be impressed with how silly they are... They're not quite trolls, more like narcissistic blowhards. You know the type -- they talk endlessly and contribute nothing... they live for the sound of their own voice... Sound and fury signifying nothing...
244 posted on 06/25/2005 8:38:36 AM PDT by GOPJ (Deep Throat(s) -- top level FBI officials playing cub reporters for suckers.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 32 | View Replies]

To: ExSoldier
Sorry, don't mean to sound snide. But some of the reactions to this thread are depressing. Freepers certainly seem jaded and embittered. ~sigh~

We've attracted a lot of "too cute by half" types recently. Usually that type of personality is liberal. I have no idea why they're here other than to be impressed with how silly they are... They're not quite trolls, more like narcissistic blowhards. You know the type -- they talk endlessly and contribute nothing... they live for the sound of their own voice... Sound and fury signifying nothing...

245 posted on 06/25/2005 8:39:04 AM PDT by GOPJ (Deep Throat(s) -- top level FBI officials playing cub reporters for suckers.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 32 | View Replies]

To: ExSoldier
That poses an interesting question: Would EMP also fry a radio that was powered by a hand crank? If it's components were microchips, I'm betting yes.

I think EMP is overrated from what I've read about it. Basically if your radio or electronic device isn't connected to a power source (usually the A/C line) or an antenna, it should be safe but if you want added protection to make sure, put it in a grounded metal box. I think your Walkman should still work and even with cars, the body is metal so that should shield any electonics. The problem is that an outside antenna and the power lines will act as an antenna and direct the EMP into the device in question. Of course, nothing is 100% so it is a good idea to protect them as well as you can.

BTW, I do have a battery powered tube radio, my grandfather's 1953 Philco 53-656, it even has the Civil Defense symbol on it past the AM band. B-) IIRC, above 1610 kc to about 1800 kc, it was used for local Civil Defense communications by the authorities at that time. Many police departments still used 2000 kc for their radios although even at that time, they were using VHF-Lo/Hi.
246 posted on 06/25/2005 8:50:16 AM PDT by Nowhere Man (Lutheran, Conservative, Neo-Victorian/Edwardian, Michael Savage in '08! - DeCAFTA-nate CAFTA!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 241 | View Replies]

To: Nowhere Man
even with cars, the body is metal so that should shield any electonics.

According to the notes I took at NBC school (Nuclear, Biological & Chemical warfare), EMP will fry the electronics of most any civilian vehicle line of sight to the detonation, especially the rather delicate computers associated with the starter and regulating the engine especially in the more upscale cars. In other words, anything with electronic start or even electronic fuel injection won't work. I'm guessing if you have a 1975 or prior Ford Bronco, you're ok. Maybe one of the original IH Scout 4x4's.

247 posted on 06/25/2005 8:57:14 AM PDT by ExSoldier (Democracy is 2 wolves and a lamb voting on dinner. Liberty is a well armed lamb contesting the vote.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 246 | View Replies]

To: cvq3842
Maybe you misunderstood me. I never said they would never be able to do it.

No misunderstanding. This is what you said below.

If they could have done it already, they would have.

That is why I said, your statement lacks logic.

248 posted on 06/25/2005 9:21:11 AM PDT by Black Tooth
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 237 | View Replies]

To: RightWhale
Three nukes of 200 kton or more in the wrong places would ruin the country for decades.

Just a thought... we busted a LOT of nukes right here during the `50's and we are still here. 97 to be exact. We could recover from a terrorest attack involving multiple locations, even urban locations.

"The United States conducted 119 nuclear tests at the NTS from the start of testing in January 1951 through October 1958. Most of those nuclear tests were carried out in the atmosphere. Some tests were positioned for firing by airdrop, but metal towers were used for many Nevada tests at heights ranging from 100 to 700 feet (30-200 meters) above the ground surface. In 1957 and 1958, helium-filled balloons, tethered to precise heights and locations 340 to 1,500 feet (105 to 500 meters) above ground, provided a simpler, quicker, and less expensive method for the testing of many experimental devices. The tests of the atmospheric era took place in Yucca and Frenchman Flats. The 119 nuclear tests that were conducted at the NTS during the atmospheric testing era (1951-1958) consist of 97 nuclear tests conducted in the atmosphere, of two cratering tests, detonated at depths less than 100 feet (30 meters), and of 20 underground tests."

http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/usa/facility/nts.htm

249 posted on 06/25/2005 9:30:03 AM PDT by TLI (. ITINERIS IMPENDEO VALHALLA,. .Minuteman Project, Day -1 to Day 8)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 69 | View Replies]

To: MD_Willington_1976; blackdog; null and void; RaceBannon; rmlew; Arthalion; Inge_CAV

ping


250 posted on 06/25/2005 9:46:31 AM PDT by GOPJ (Deep Throat(s) -- top level FBI officials playing cub reporters for suckers.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 247 | View Replies]


Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first previous 1-50 ... 151-200201-250251-300 ... 451-482 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson