July 21, 2017

Terrorism: Dirty Bomb

In America alone there have been nineteen terrorist attempts that have been stopped since September 11, 2001. Terrorists have stated time and time again that they will attack us here at home and our interests abroad. The question is; will they be able to? Out of the nineteen attempts some were stopped by good police work, some were successful to one degree or another and the majority failed due too the incompetence of the terrorist.

I’m going to cover three terrorist attacks that I think are possible and some advice should you find yourself near one. In this article I’ll cover the dirty bomb.
 
 
Dirty Bomb

A dirty bomb is not a conventional nuclear explosion. It uses conventional explosives (such as dynamite) to spread radioactive material. The damage and casualty rate would be much lower then a conventional nuclear attack. The goal with this type of attack is fear. Any death or injury caused by it is an added “bonus” to the terrorist. Remember how long things were shut down after 9-11 and how badly the economy suffered? If they can scare people and get them to pause long enough, it will do much more to hurt our way of life than any damage they may have caused.
 
 
Is this a real threat?

I see this as a two-part question. One; is this something that terrorists would like to do? I think the answer, without question, is yes. Terrorists like “grand” event’s, whether it be the size or multiple, well choreographed, events. A dirty bomb could be a pretty big event. The second question is; Can they pull it off? This isn’t as easy to answer. I think if they had the ability now, they would use it. However, there are more and more unfriendly and pseudo-friendly countries chasing nuclear “power”. Since a dirty bomb doesn’t require weapons grade material, any of these countries could make a fair bit of money off some of their nuclear waste.

You might remember the nuclear summit held in Washington last April; here are two quotes that I think are pretty important:

“A leading nuclear expert says it is only a matter of time before terrorists launch an attack using so-called dirty bombs.” From an ABC News article

“The White House has warned state and local governments not to expect a “significant federal response” at the scene of a terrorist nuclear attack for 24 to 72 hours after the blast, according to a planning guide.” From a USA Today article

So what do you do if caught near a dirty bomb explosion? Here is a scenario for you:

You’re at work and you hear sirens, you look outside and you see a mushroom cloud. You know that a mushroom cloud doesn’t mean a nuclear explosion; it could just be a large conventional explosion…

Before I cover the things to do after the explosion, let me cover some things that you can do before. A GHB (Get Home Bag) can be kept in your car. It is a bag stocked with enough supplies to get you home. Many people plan for walking home, in case of an EMP. I also recommend having a get home plan consisting of at least three totally different routes.

I have seen it recommended to get and stay indoors. Personally I don’t think that is the best advice in all situations. There are too many variables that could come into play; there may have been radiological, chemical or biological agents mixed in with the conventional explosion. As I mentioned above, terrorists like “grand”, so there could be more bombs. Oh and then there is the statement from the White House that local governments would be on their own for up to three days after the blast.

Now you need to make a judgment call, depending on how far away from the blast you are. If you are indoors, that might be the best place to be. (As for me, if I can see it, or hear the sirens for it, I am leaving.) In order to make a judgment call you’ll need as much information as you can get, as quickly as you can get it. Local radio and TV are good, but it’s going to take a while before they’re on scene. Police and other first responders will have the most current information. There are free police scanners on line such as this one. If you have an iPhone, there is an app called 5-0 Police Radio, this app lists 100’s of free police radio feeds. I’m sure there are similar apps for other phones.

Back to what to do after…

First, know that the most deadly part of a dirty bomb is the initial explosion.
 
 
Indoors

This is where you’ll need to make a judgment call. If you work near the explosion, you might want to take the rest of the day off. If you live near the blast, start thinking about bugging out and which route in your bug-out plan is the best. If you decide to stay indoors, close any open windows and turn off the air conditioning or heat.
 
 
Outdoors or In Your Car

In a large explosion there is a lot of dirt and debris in the air that you will risk breathing in. You can cover your mouth and nose with a cloth, or pack an N95 mask in your GHB. Outdoors is possibly the worst place to be. Seeking shelter or running for your car and heading for the best route in your get home plan might be the best idea. If you are in the car put the windows up and turn off the air conditioning or heat.
 
 
Fallout and Decontaminating

The three factors to protect from radiation are distance, time and shielding.
 
Distance

The more distance between you and the fallout particles the better. There are so many possible variables that it’s hard to say how far is far enough. I would say if you can still see the fallout coming down then you’re not far enough away.
 
Time

Fallout radiation loses intensity over time. Since we’re talking about a dirty bomb instead of a conventional nuclear bomb, the rate should be even faster as there will be less radiation. Once the fallout stops coming down I would expect government officials to begin checking the radiation levels and to begin cleaning up and rescuing people as soon as it is safe.
 
Shielding

If you have to shelter you want the heaviest, densest walls and barricades that you can find; concrete or brick are ideal. If you can’t find a building with sufficient walls then make a shelter in the innermost area, away from any windows.

If you have been outside it is important to decontaminate and remove fallout ASAP. You should remove outer clothing and put it in a bag and seal it. If possible rinse your hair and body off thoroughly with water before entering your home. This should remove any fallout particles. Also remember to decontaminate any pets that were outside.

 
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