Jim has been on expert panels that look at what drugs should be stockpiled in the event of nuclear terrorism.
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The goal of terrorism is massive social disruption, even above the act of killing. Large metropolitan areas have been targets of past acts of terror, including New York and Washington, DC, not only because they are densely populated, but also for the psychological effect on the nation as a whole.
The fact that nuclear terrorism would involve radioactive material vastly increases the effect of the psychological distraction and social disorder. People have a natural fear of radiation, which is based on ignorance.
For instance, people have voiced concern over radiation exposure in airport security scanners, not realizing that they are getting more radiation exposure during their flight on the airplane than from the scanner. So although terrorists could accomplish their goals by other means, a nuclear device causes much more fear and large-scale emotional panic and disruption. What would be the effect of using a plane as a weapon to crash into a nuclear power plant? In the s, when commercial airlines were more commonly hijacked, there was a threat made to crash a jetliner into the Oak Ridge nuclear weapons facility, where the atomic bombs dropped during WWII were made.
And there have been many other military strikes on nuclear facilities around the world. There are two aspects to that issue. One is the question of whether you could actually destroy the reactor itself. Jim and I received different responses from engineers on this question, so there is no real consensus.
In fact, environmental groups aiming to prove how vulnerable these nuclear reactors are have conducted this very kind of operation. We have three redundant systems to prevent what is called a loss-of-cooling accident. But in Fukushima, all three systems failed, causing catastrophic failure of the core. It would be possible for terrorists to knock out all three systems, which is something that needs to be addressed.
In the United States, we have force-to-force exercises to prepare us for this kind of attack, but other countries may not be so prepared.
Please touch on that issue. That term is used to describe illegally obtained fissile material from a radioactive source. So the material would have to be smuggled in by boat or across the Mexican or Canadian border. In an easier-to-realize scenario, a terrorist operative could steal radioactive material from a hospital and use it in a conventional bomb. For example, if a device like this was detonated in a city such as New York, midtown Manhattan would have to be evacuated.
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Panic would spread across the island, causing chaos and fear. The only way to prevent that is through education, but it is an uphill battle.
Most people assume that radiation was the largest killer, and convincing them otherwise is difficult. We can run away from fire or seek higher ground during a tsunami, but the invisible terror of radiation provokes irrational behavior.
LA County Preparedness for a Radiological or Nuclear Incident
The first necessity is to revamp education on radiation and how various scenarios could play out. The average physician has only a modest knowledge about radiation. Knowledgeable doctors are important, and oncologists and hematologists are the likely professionals who would be treating individuals affected by radiation. When you have one of these events, people put less faith in governmental sources than they do in their health-care providers.
Nuclear Terrorism and National Preparedness
Chemical releases can be unintentional, as in the case of an industrial accident, or intentional, as in the case of a terrorist attack. Learn about different types of chemical agents, and how to stay safe during a chemical emergency. A cyber-attack is a deliberate and malicious technological assault on a computer information system, infrastructure, network, or personal device e. Cyber criminals steal, alter or destroy their target by hacking into computer systems. Radiological Emergencies. Radiation is a form of energy that travels in waves or high speed particles.
A radiological emergency may be an intentional event e. If a radiation emergency occurs, you can take actions to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your pets. Structure Fires. More than 3, Americans die each year in fires and approximately 17, are injured. An overwhelming number of fires occur in the home. There are time-tested ways to prevent and survive a fire.
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