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#213178 - 12/16/10 05:14 PM Terrorist Nuke? - Shelter in place, says FEMA
philip Offline
Addict

Registered: 09/19/05
Posts: 639
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area
Sigh - but can we trust FEMA?

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/16/science/16terror.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2&hp

This article contains a link to a planning guide for surviving a terrorist nuclear bomb, and the gist of it all is to shelter in place for as many hours as you can if you survive the blast. Even sitting in a car for several hours reduces your risk of death from fallout by about half. Being in a basement or underground garage is even better - remember fallout shelters?

The planning guide mentions EMP, too - it's unlikely to have effects outside the blast damage zone with bombs the size terrorists are most likely to use - 10 kilotons and less. Even if your stuff survives the blast but is fried by EMP, gear brought into the area will still work; if there are working cells, for example, outside cellphones will still make calls.

The advice is to be able to shelter in place for 72 hours until FEMA comes to your rescue. Without regard to snarkiness about FEMA, the guide is ~130 in .pdf format. I've scanned through it but not read it yet, and it seems to be to be helpful in combatting the hysteria that will arise if a terrorist nuke goes off - preparation goes a long way toward survival.

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#213184 - 12/16/10 06:16 PM Re: Terrorist Nuke? - Shelter in place, says FEMA [Re: philip]
Lono Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 10/19/06
Posts: 1013
Loc: Pacific NW, USA
I haven't reviewed the FEMA guide yet, but thinking about this like any other disaster, its only correct that they point out that those sheltering in place a distance from the initial blast will enhance the likelihood of survival. Absent some sort of full scale thermonuclear attack by the Russians, this is all survivable, and while horrific to experience and extremely difficult to respond to, yes - I do trust FEMA, my state and local authorities, including medical assistance, shelter assistance, and volunteer partner agencies - to come to aid folks after such a disaster. Most disasters are local, and involve moving in aid and supplies from relatively nearby places - alot of nearby effort could be disabled by a terrorist nuclear detonation. Most disaster areas are not radioactively hot. There are issues responding to a nuclear disaster that will delay any response. But the premise is you want people to survive the initial blast, and fallout radiation, and for that you ask them to shelter in place according to the best methods available.

FYI I don't think snarkiness about FEMA responses is fair or worthwhile anymore, and certainly isn't productive. Working with FEMA now is a different experience than Katrina might have been. If you encounter a disaster, nuclear or otherwise, you'll find a number of responders on your doorstep as soon as possible, most of them local and state level. I'm positive that none of them are going to make you whole from the experience. FEMA is in there for the largest disasters, and the long haul. Folks who want to rail about FEMA would do well to educate themselves about what FEMA will actually *do* for them versus what they are expected to do for themselves first.

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#213194 - 12/16/10 08:14 PM Re: Terrorist Nuke? - Shelter in place, says FEMA [Re: philip]
Todd W Offline
Product Tester
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 11/14/04
Posts: 1928
Loc: Mountains of CA
FOX just went over this.

Basically NUKE goes off you can't really do much other than bunker in place they said...
_________________________
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#213207 - 12/17/10 01:27 AM Re: Terrorist Nuke? - Shelter in place, says FEMA [Re: Todd W]
ki4buc Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 11/10/03
Posts: 710
Loc: Augusta, GA
I have downloaded and will read over the 130 pages.

But, from prior training and knowledge, the basic tennant of dealing with anything radioactive is: Time - Distance - Shielding.

Time - Radioactive material decays at an exponential rate. The further along you are on the decay, the less energy there is.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exponential_decay

Distance - Radiation of all types (including light, thermal, and nuclear) follows the "Inverse-Square Law". For every foot away, the effective energy in the radiation decreases by some proportion of the original value.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inverse-square_law

Shielding - Alpha, Beta, and Gamma particles are emitted from ionizing radiation are emitted from a nuclear device. This radiation poses a health hazard.

Alpha - Not a concern, unless direct contact (i.e. injested, on the skin, etc). I forgot the number, but I think a newspaper will protect you.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alpha_particle

Beta - A little more penetrating. Apparently can be stopped with a few millimeters of aluminum.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beta_particle

Gamma - This is the stuff that goes far distances. This is why you build 12 - 24" walls with lots of sand in them.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamma_particle

I am pretty sure that this is a "do the most good for the most people", and most people in an urban environment will have some shielding around them to limit/mitigate their exposure. The combination of time, distance and amount of shielding will determine their likelyhood of survival.

Evacuating people into the open will remove the shielding component, and could decrease the distance component. If you evacuate them early, you are on the "beginning" of the decay line, not further down, where the amount of energy is lower.

I took this FEMA Independent Study course a few years a go, and its a good review of basic High School nuclear physics, and gives some more useful information:

IS-3 - Radiological Emergency Management
http://training.fema.gov/EMIWeb/IS/is3.asp

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#213217 - 12/17/10 03:39 AM Re: Terrorist Nuke? - Shelter in place, says FEMA [Re: philip]
Art_in_FL Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 09/01/07
Posts: 2432
FEMA has some of the best emergency managers and has done a lot of the engineering studies and thinking ahead about these sorts of issues. Unfortunately FEMA is not often allowed to do the the pure 'best for the most' thing very often. Politics, funding through the political branches, and political appointments can easily cripple the agency and negate all the good it might do.

If the agency is well funded and allowed to operate as an independent, goal-directed and professional organization run by trained and experienced emergency managers it can do a lot of good saving lives and minimizing losses. When it is run by a someone without qualifications, without understanding or training, without common decency, it gets ugly. When positions involving life and death decisions get filled by patronage appointees in return for raising money during a political campaign you are not going to have an effective organization.

There are positions, like the US ambassadors to Bermuda and Monaco, that can be handed out as a reward for loyalty and fund-raising. This has been going on for as long as nations have existed. It is wasteful but these are posts that are there to be enjoyed. Not positions where history and lives depend on performance. FEMA is not one of those positions. Using the office as a patronage position is like selecting your brain surgeon based on his being loyal and friendly.

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#213221 - 12/17/10 03:44 AM Re: Terrorist Nuke? - Shelter in place, says FEMA [Re: Art_in_FL]
ki4buc Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 11/10/03
Posts: 710
Loc: Augusta, GA
Originally Posted By: Art_in_FL
There are positions, like the US ambassadors to Bermuda and Monaco, that can be handed out as a reward for loyalty and fund-raising. This has been going on for as long as nations have existed. It is wasteful but these are posts that are there to be enjoyed. Not positions where history and lives depend on performance. FEMA is not one of those positions. Using the office as a patronage position is like selecting your brain surgeon based on his being loyal and friendly.


... and someone was smart enough to put Craig Fugate in charge of FEMA. That guy rocks.

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#213237 - 12/17/10 04:21 PM Re: Terrorist Nuke? - Shelter in place, says FEMA [Re: philip]
ki4buc Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 11/10/03
Posts: 710
Loc: Augusta, GA
"L.A. dry run shows urban nuke attack 'a survivable event'"

http://content.usatoday.net/dist/custom/...=41773400.story

There is this great animation show shrinking fallout zone:

http://www.usatoday.com/video/index.html#/Fallout+from+an+improvised+nuclear+device/712474766001

"The government would be preoccupied with so many tasks identifying the culprit; tracking the effects of the blast; securing government buildings; ushering critical personnel to safe locations; amassing drugs and supplies that federal help won't arrive for 24 to 72 hours, the White House guidance says."

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#213250 - 12/17/10 07:28 PM Re: Terrorist Nuke? - Shelter in place, says FEMA [Re: ki4buc]
Dagny Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 11/25/08
Posts: 1918
Loc: Washington, DC
Originally Posted By: ki4buc
"L.A. dry run shows urban nuke attack 'a survivable event'"

http://content.usatoday.net/dist/custom/...=41773400.story


So many orders of magnitude worse than 9/11 -- the carnage, national trauma and economic reverb would be immense.

Every metropolitan area would be on edge as never before. Would urban residents be evacuating in a panic upon news of another city being hit? Would you?

I might very well be inclined to embark on a last-second camping trip, with minimal packing.

God bless those tasked with preventing this from happening, and all who are reliant on their success.



[i]Bystanders miles away would witness a 100-mph fireball shooting five miles into the sky. Sun-surface heat, hyperexplosive pressures and 900-mph winds would level buildings for half a mile. Between 50,000 and 100,000 people would vanish in smoke and flame.

Flash-blind drivers 10 miles away would crash, blocking evacuation routes. [i]Fallout would rain down for hundreds of miles, according to the White House's Planning Guidance for Response to a Nuclear Detonation,posted on the Internet in June.



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#213253 - 12/17/10 08:22 PM Re: Terrorist Nuke? - Shelter in place, says FEMA [Re: Dagny]
Am_Fear_Liath_Mor Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/03/07
Posts: 3078
Quote:
Flash-blind drivers 10 miles away would crash


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOJHz6Przdw - 'As you slide toward the big Truck, Oh no!!' wink

Why the news media interest now, this song dates from 1983?

This fellow followed the advice for sheltering in place;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6EbsrJuAoQo

Didn't do him or his family much good.




Edited by Am_Fear_Liath_Mor (12/17/10 08:32 PM)

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#213255 - 12/17/10 08:42 PM Re: Terrorist Nuke? - Shelter in place, says FEMA [Re: Dagny]
Blast Offline
INTERCEPTOR
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 07/15/02
Posts: 3760
Loc: TX
Quote:
Every metropolitan area would be on edge as never before. Would urban residents be evacuating in a panic upon news of another city being hit? Would you?


Having watched the city of Houston try to evacuate past my front door before hurricane Rita, I think I'd still just bug in even if a nuke went off downtown. Actually, a smart terrorist would set the nuke off in the middle of the refineries on the south side of town. That would be 70 miles from me.

I do suspect most other residents of Houston would be running out of the city in fear.

-Blast
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