Nuke News and Updates group on US First Responders Association

March 11, 2014

We recently set up a discussion group called “Nuke News and Updates” on the U.S. First Responders Association forum in case you would like to review discussions going forward.

USFRA members will be sharing news and updates about the on-going disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant along with resources and stories about nuclear sites and incidents on North American soil and across the world.

Please understand this network is NOT a political or anti/pro nuke group but rather a place to share safety information, news and resources about nuclear power plants, research reactors and incidents to help responders and the public at large.

Some examples of discussions in the Nuke News and Updates group include…

Fukushima: Resources to help decipher fact from fiction 

There has been a lot of information — and misinformation — swirling around the Internet lately about Japan’s crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant so we wanted to share some resources that may calm some fears.

And yes, of course the situation is still extremely tenuous since a large trembler in the earthquake-prone country could devastate the plants and cause more meltdowns or impact the 1,000+ storage tanks and containers filled with highly contaminated water.

But for now, to help reduce the erroneous reports out there, please consider reading and sharing these links with others. Continue reading

Could a Fukushima-Like Accident Happen In The US?

Could a nuclear accident like the 2011 meltdown that crippled the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan happen in the U.S.? David Lochbaum, a former nuclear engineer, director of the Nuclear Safety Program for the Union of Concerned Scientists and one of the authors of the new book-length account “Fukushima: The Story of a Nuclear Disaster,” thinks it’s more than possible. Read more 

Nuclear power plants in North America (maps + links)

The World Nuclear Association reports as of March 2013 there are 435 commercial nuclear power reactors in 31 countries with 480 more reactors under construction or planned. The U.S. has 100 commercial power plants and Canada has 19 power stations meaning millions of people live within 10 miles (16 km) of an operating reactor. And WNA reports there are 240 research reactors (54 in the U.S.) mainly on university campuses. Continue reading 

You don’t have to become a member to read most postings on the USFRA forum, however please consider joining if you’d like to participate in any of the groups and/or submit content for others.

U.S. First Responders Association is a network, of firefighters, EMS, rescue, police officers, military and civilian support teams. The purpose of the USFRA is to advance the profession of fire, emergency, police and military services through proactive community leadership, education, advocacy, policy, procedure, and guidelines that would best help our emergency services provide aid to the citizens of the U.S. and worldwide. Join USFRA today at www.usfra.org

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How to protect yourself from nuclear fallout (tips about radiation, building an expedient shelter, etc)

April 13, 2013

nuclear bombNo one wants to think about a nuclear crisis – and hopefully it will never happen – but we all must accept the fact nuclear tensions are rising globally with North Korea (plus Iran, Al-Qaeda and others are seeking nukes) so we should prepare ourselves and our loved ones in the event the unthinkable strikes our soil.

For decades, movies and some in the media have portrayed a nuclear attack as a “doomsday” event implying most people would be killed on impact … and survivors would want to die once they come out of their shelters.

In reality, unless you are actually at ground zero or within a several mile radius of the blast zone (depending on the size of the nuke, of course), there is a very high probability you’ll survive as long as you…

  • limit your exposure to radiation,
  • take shelter with proper shielding, and
  • wait for the most dangerous radioactive materials to decay.

In other words, you CAN survive a nuke attack … but you MUST make an effort to learn what to do! By learning about potential threats, we are all better prepared to know how to react if something happens.

Please realize this is being written with small nuke devices in mind (like a 1-kiloton to 1-megaton device). A larger device, ICBM or a nuclear war would cause more wide-spread damage but some of this data could still be helpful. These are some very basic tips on sheltering for any type of nuclear (or radiological) incident.

(Note: This topic is covered more in-depth in our IT’S A DISASTER! book, but these are some important steps that can help you and your loved ones survive a nuclear or radiological incident.)

What happens when a nuke explodes?

A nuclear blast produces a blinding light, intense heat (called thermal radiation), initial nuclear radiation, 2 explosive shock waves (blasts), mass fires, and radioactive fallout (residual nuclear radiation).

The below graphic shows the destruction of a test home by an atomic blast on March 17, 1953 at the Nevada Proving Ground. The structure was located 3,500 feet from ground zero, and the time from the first to last picture was 2.3 seconds.  It shows the force of the blast wave then the radiating energy set it on fire. (See more nuke test photos in our Fire in the Sky post.)

Also, if a nuke is launched over our continent and explodes miles above the earth, it could create an electromagnetic pulse (EMP). An EMP is a split-second silent energy burst (like a stroke of lightning) that can fry electronics connected to wires or antennas like cell phones, cars, computers, TVs, etc. Unless electronics are grounded or hardened, an area or nation could experience anything from minor interference to crippled power, transportation, banking and communications systems.

An EMP from a high-altitude nuke (where a nation or group succeeds in detonating a nuclear device carried miles into the atmosphere) could affect electronics within 1,000 miles or more as shown below. (Evidence suggests some countries and groups are working on enhanced and non-nuclear EMP weapons or e-bombs.)

high altitude emp or electromagnetic pulse threat

What is the most dangerous part of a nuclear attack?

Both the initial nuclear radiation and residual nuclear radiation (also called radioactive fallout) are extremely dangerous.

Initial nuclear radiation is penetrating invisible rays that can be lethal in high levels.

Radioactive fallout (residual nuclear radiation) is created when the fireball vaporizes everything inside it (including dirt and water). Vaporized materials mix with radioactive materials in the updraft of air forming a mushroom cloud.

Fallout can be carried by winds for hundreds of miles and begin falling to the ground within minutes of the blast or take hours, days, weeks or even months to fall. The heaviest fallout would hit ground zero and areas downwind of that, and 80% of fallout would occur within 24 hours. Most fallout looks like grey sand or gritty ash and the radiation given off cannot be seen, smelled, tasted or felt which is why it is so dangerous. But as the materials decay or spread out radiation levels will drop.

More about radiation

Types of radiation – Nuclear radiation has 3 main types of radiation…

  • alpha – can be shielded by a sheet of paper or by human skin. If alpha particles are inhaled, ingested, or enter body through a cut, they can cause damage to tissues and cells.
  • beta – can be stopped by skin or a thicker shield (like wood). Beta particles can cause serious damage to internal organs if ingested or inhaled, and could cause eye damage or possible skin burns.
  • gamma – most dangerous since gamma rays can penetrate the entire body and cause cell damage throughout your organs, blood and bones. Since radiation does not stimulate nerve cells you may not feel anything while your body absorbs it. Exposure to high levels of gamma rays can lead to radiation sickness or death, which is why it is critical to seek shelter from fallout in a facility with thick shielding!

Radiation detection devices – You cannot see, smell, taste or feel radiation, but special instruments can detect even the smallest levels of radiation. Since it may take days or weeks before First Responders could get to you, consider having these devices handy during a crisis or attack since they could save your life.

survey meter radiation detection device

 

   survey meter – measures rate of exposure or intensity of radiation at that specific location if you stayed there for an hour … like a speedometer in a car (cost: $300-$1,000+)

dosimeter radiation detection devicedosimeter – a pen-like device you can wear that measures total dose or accumulated exposure to radiation as you move around (needs a charger too). Dosimeters cost about $45-$65+ each and some dealers offer 3 dosimeters + a charger for about $240 or so.

Kearny Fallout Meter or KFM kit

 

  KFM kit – (Kearny Fallout Meter) measures radiation more accurately than most instruments since it’s charged electrostatically. Find plans online or available as a low-cost kit ($40-$75). And it’s a great science project for kids.

NukAlert radiation detection device

NukAlert – a patented personal radiation meter, monitor and alarm small enough to fit on a key chain. The unit warns you with chirping sounds if it detects radiation. (cost: $145 – $160)

RADsticker measures radiation levels

 

    RADsticker – postage stamp sized card (cost: $2-$5 ea)

Measuring radiation – Radiation was measured in units called roentgens (pronounced “rent-gens” and abbreviated as “R”) … or “rads” or “rem”. An EPA document called “Planning Guidance for Response to A Nuclear Detonation 2nd Edition June 2010” explains … 1 R (exposure in air) ≅ 1 rad (absorbed dose) ≅ 1 rem (whole-body dose). Although many measuring devices and older documentation use R and rem, officials and the media now use sievert (Sv) which is the System International or SI unit of measurement of radiation. The formula to convert sieverts to rems is quite simple … 1 Sv = 100 R (rem).

How many rads are bad? – High doses of radiation in a short span of time can cause radiation sickness or even death, but if that high dose is spread out over a long period of time, it’s not as bad.

According to FEMA, an adult could tolerate and recover from an exposure to 150R (1.5 Sv) over a week or 300R (3 Sv) over a 4-month period. But 300R (3 Sv) over a week could cause sickness or possibly death. Exposure to 30R (0.3 Sv) to 70R (0.7 Sv) over a week may cause minor sickness, but a full recovery would be expected. But radioactive fallout decays rapidly so staying in a shelter with proper shielding is critical!

The “seven-ten” rule – For every sevenfold increase in time after the initial blast, there is a tenfold decrease in the radiation rate. For example, a 500 rad level can drop to 50R in just 7 hours and down to 5R after 2 days (49 hours). In other words, if you have shelter with good shielding and stay put for even just 7 hours … you’ve really increased your chances of survival. Your detection devices, emergency radio or cell phone [if the last 2 are working, that is] can assist you in knowing when it’s safe to come out.

So how do I protect myself and my family?

Basic shelter requirements – Whether you build a shelter in advance or throw together an expedient last-minute shelter during a crisis, the area should protect you from radiation and support you for at least 2 weeks. Some basic requirements for a fallout shelter include …

  • shielding
  • ventilation
  • water and food
  • sanitation and first aid products
  • radiation monitoring devices, KI (potassium iodide), radio, weapons, tools, etc

Reduce exposure – Protect yourself from radioactive fallout with …

  • distance – the more distance between you and fallout particles, the better
  • shielding – heavy, dense materials (like thick walls, earth, concrete, bricks, water and books) between you and fallout is best. Stay indoors or below ground. (Taking shelter in a basement or a facility below ground reduces exposure by 90%. Less than 4 inches of soil or earth can reduce the penetration of dangerous gamma rays by half.)
  • time – most fallout loses its strength quickly. The more time that passes after the attack, the lower the danger.

Indoor shelter locations – If you don’t have a fallout shelter, these options could provide protection from dangerous radiation by using proper shielding materials.

  • basement – find the corner that is most below ground level (the further underground the better)
  • 1-story home / condo / apartment – if no underground facility, find a spot in center of home away from windows
  • trailer home – find sturdier shelter if possible (like a basement or brick or concrete building)
  • multi-story building or high-rise – go to center of the middle section of building (above 9th floor if possible). Note: if rooftop of a building next to you is on that same floor, move one floor up or down since radioactive fallout would accumulate on rooftops. Avoid first floor (if possible) since fallout will pile up on ground outside.

Make an expedient shelter – Some very basic ways to build an expedient last-minute shelter in your home, apartment or workplace to help protect you from dangerous radiation include…

  • Set up a large, sturdy workbench or table in location you’ve chosen. If no table, make one by putting doors on top of boxes, appliances or furniture.
  • Put as much shielding (e.g. furniture, file cabinets, appliances, boxes or pillowcases filled with dirt or sand, boxes of food, water or books, concrete blocks, bricks, etc.) all around sides and on top of table, but don’t put too much weight on tabletop or it could collapse. Add reinforcing supports, if needed.
  • Leave a crawl space so everyone can get inside and block opening with shielding materials.
  • Leave 2 small air spaces for ventilation (about 4-6″ each) – one low at one end and one high at other end. (This allows for better airflow since warm air rises.)
  • Have water, radiation detection devices, KI, battery operated radio, food and sanitation supplies in case you have to shelter in place for days or weeks.

build an expedient shelter for protection from radioactive fallout

In summary, those within the blast zone of Ground Zero (depending on the size of the nuke) won’t make it .. BUT .. if you are a few miles outside the zone your chances of surviving it are high but you MUST have detection devices to monitor levels of radiation and a plan to stay sheltered for at least 48 hours or up to a few weeks. First Responders will have to wait for the deadly fallout to decay before they enter a hot zone so the more you prepare, the better your odds of surviving a terrorist nuke.

As mentioned earlier, our 266-page IT’S A DISASTER! book explains more about nuclear incidents and many other disasters, emergencies and basic first aid … and we discount our $14.99 paperback down to $4.50 US each (on 10 or more copies) or PDF ebook is only $3 US. Plus we customize our products for free.

Learn more at www.itsadisaster.net or call Fedhealth at 520.907.2153 (7a-4p Pacific M–F) for more information.

Stay safe, j & B

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Friday Fotos: Fire in the sky (old nuclear weapons tests in Bikini Atoll and Nevada)

April 12, 2013

nuclear missileWith all recent rhetoric by North Korea about their potential nuclear capabilities, we felt this might be a good time to do a few posts about nuclear threats. (See also How to protect yourself from nuclear fallout)

These Friday Fotos show some fascinating old footage of nuke testing by the U.S. military, and tomorrow’s post will discuss some sheltering tips that could save your life in the event of a nuclear incident.

From 1946 to 1958, the United States conducted 67 nuclear tests in the Marshall Islands (also known as the Pacific Proving Grounds). The total volume translates into 7,000 Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs detonated at the pace of 11 a week.

The below 3 photos are tests performed on Bikini Atoll, however tests were also done on Enewetak Atoll and other islands in the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

nuclear weapon test Romeo

Romeo / Photo: U.S. Department of Energy

Nuclear weapon test Romeo (yield 11 megaton) on Bikini Atoll on March 26, 1954. The test was part of the Operation Castle. Romeo was the first nuclear test conducted on a barge. The barge was located in the Bravo crater. Operation Castle was a United States series of high-yield (high-energy) nuclear tests by Joint Task Force 7 (JTF-7) at Bikini Atoll beginning in March 1954.

nuclear weapon test Baker explosion

Baker explosion / Photo: U.S. Navy

The “Baker” explosion was part of Operation Crossroads weapons test at Bikini Atoll, Micronesia, on 25 July 1946. The wider, exterior cloud is actually just a condensation cloud caused by the Wilson chamber effect, and was very brief. There was no classic mushroom cloud rising to the stratosphere, but inside the condensation cloud the top of the water geyser formed a mushroom-like head called the cauliflower, which fell back into the lagoon. The water released by the explosion was highly radioactive and contaminated many of the ships that were set up near it. Some were otherwise undamaged and sent to Hunter’s Point in San Francisco, California, for decontamination. Those which could not be decontaminated were sunk a number of miles off the coast of San Francisco.

Castle Bravo nuclear weapon test at Bikini Atoll

Castle Bravo / Photo: The Guardian 

Castle Bravo was the code name given to the first test of a dry fuel thermonuclear hydrogen bomb, detonated on March 1, 1954, at Bikini Atoll, as the first test of Operation Castle. Castle Bravo was the most powerful nuclear device ever detonated by the U.S. (and just under one-third the energy of the most powerful ever detonated), with a yield of 15 megatons of TNT. (Basically it had an explosive force equivalent to 1,000 Hiroshima-sized bombs.) That yield, far exceeding the expected yield of 4 to 6 megatons, combined with other factors, led to the most significant accidental radiological contamination ever caused by the United States. Fallout from the detonation—intended to be a secret test—poisoned some of the islanders upon their return,as well as the crew of a Japanese fishing boat, and created international concern about atmospheric thermonuclear testing.

Nevada Proving Grounds (also called Nevada Test Site) was established on 11 January 1951, for the testing of nuclear devices and is composed of approximately 1,360 sq mi (3,500 km2) of desert and mountainous terrain. Between 1951 and 1992, there were a total of 928 announced nuclear tests at NTS. Of those, 828 were underground.  The Nevada Test Site was the primary testing location of American nuclear devices; 126 tests were conducted elsewhere (many at the Pacific Proving Grounds mentioned above).

Operation Teapot Met Shot nuclear weapon explosion at Nevada Test site

The Met Shot / Photo: U.S. Department of Energy / Nevada Test Site

The Met Shot was part of Operation Teapot — a series of 14 nuclear test explosions conducted at the Nevada Test Site in the first half of 1955. The aims of the operation were to establish military tactics for ground forces on a nuclear battlefield, and to improve the nuclear weapons used for strategic delivery

US nuclear test George of Operation Greenhouse

George / Photo: National Nuclear Security Administration / Nevada Test Site

U.S. nuclear test “George” of Operation Greenhouse  was a “science experiment” showing the feasibility of the Teller-Ulam design concept test series, 9 May 1951. Operation Greenhouse represented new and aggressive designs for nuclear weapons. The main idea was to reduce the size, weight, and most importantly, reduce the amount of fissile material necessary for nuclear weapons, while increasing the destructive power.

nuclear test Badger of Operation Upshot-Knothole

BADGER / Photo: National Nuclear Security Administration / Nevada Test Site

A 23 kiloton tower shot called BADGER, fired on April 18, 1953 at the Nevada Test Site, as part of the Operation Upshot-Knothole nuclear test series.

Stay safe and review some safety information about nuclear incidents. j & B


Friday Fotos: Japan’s devastating 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuke plant disasters

March 15, 2013

boat on top of building after Japan tsunamiThis past Monday March 11, 2013 marked the 2 year anniversary of the devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant disasters in Japan.

The 9.0 Tohoku earthquake, the strongest ever to hit Japan and among the five most powerful earthquakes ever recorded, along with the subsequent tsunami claimed the lives of over 20,000 people

Some mindboggling figures from the trifecta disaster include…

6 = approximate number of minutes the shaking lasted during the 9.0 earthquake in Sendai (80 miles or 130 kilometers west of the epicenter). It’s also the number of miles the tsunami traveled inland in areas.

133’ = the massive tsunami that slammed parts of Japan reached heights up to 133 feet (40.5 meters) in some places! The waves that struck the Fukushima reactors were almost 46 feet (14 meters) high.

961 = Total number of aftershocks in Sendai on March 11, 2011 (Note: This is total for 1 day only and a tally of magnitude 4.0 – 9.0 quakes only..! There were many smaller aftershocks too.)

19,349 = Total number of magnitude 3.0 or higher earthquakes in and around Japan in 2011 (total from Jan 1 – Dec 31, 2011).

270,000 = number of buildings damaged or destroyed

386,739 = number of homeless people at one point.

Below are a tiny sampling of photos from Japan’s devastating 2011 disaster…

tsunami floods Japan

debris after Japan earthquake and tsunami

flooding after 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami

flooding after Japan earthquake and tsunami

military aircraft damage after Japan tsunami

explosion and fire at Fukushima power plant

Sendai after Tohoku earthquake and tsunami

We also wanted to share an awesome video from people in the Tohoku area expressing their gratitude to all of the international aid that helped them. (video from Nov 2011)

Also read our March 2012 Updates and Arigato from Japan enews article with more stats and resources.

Photos from Totallycoolpix.com and Japanearthquakepictures.com


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