*Dirty Bomb Threats*
By Homesteader
25 January 2004

A Dirty Bomb is basically some conventional explosives (such as TNT) used to disperse radioactive material.

Even a small Dirty Bomb attack constitutes a very credible threat to our way of life.


Radioactive materials that could be used for such attacks are stored in thousands of facilities around the US, many of which may not be adequately protected against theft by determined terrorists.

Some of this material could be easily dispersed in urban areas by using conventional explosives like TNT or by other methods.

Materials that could easily be lost or stolen could contaminate tens of city blocks at a level that would require prompt evacuation and create terror in large communities even if radiation casualties were low.

Since there are often no effective ways to decontaminate buildings that have been exposed at these levels, demolition may be the only practical solution

Here are three examples showing how even small amounts of nuclear material could cause massive problems due to the terror and economic impacts they would cause. (from the written testimony of Henry Kelly, Federation of American Scientists, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on March 6, 2002)


Example 1:
Cesium (Gamma Emitter)
Two weeks ago, a lost medical gauge containing cesium was discovered in North Carolina. Imagine that the cesium in this device was exploded in Washington, DC in a bomb using ten pounds of TNT. The initial passing of the radioactive cloud would be relatively harmless, and no one would have to evacuate immediately. However, residents of an area of about five city blocks, if they remained, would have a one-in-a-thousand chance of getting cancer.

A swath about one mile long covering an area of forty city blocks would exceed EPA contamination limits, with remaining residents having a one-in-ten thousand chance of getting cancer.

If decontamination were not possible, these areas would have to be abandoned for decades.

If the device was detonated at the National Gallery of Art, the contaminated area might include the Capitol, the Supreme Court, and the Library of Congress.

Example 2:
Cobalt (Gamma Emitter)
Now imagine if a single piece of radioactive cobalt from a food irradiation plant were dispersed by an explosion at the lower tip of Manhattan. Typically, each of these cobalt "pencils" is about one inch in diameter and one foot long, with hundreds of such pieces often being found in the same facility. Admittedly, acquisition of such material is less likely than in the previous scenario, but we still consider the results.

Again, no immediate evacuation would be necessary, but in this case, an area of approximately one-thousand square kilometers, extending over three states, would be contaminated. Over an area of about three hundred typical city blocks, there would be a one-in-ten risk of death from cancer for residents living in the contaminated area for forty years.

The entire borough of Manhattan would be so contaminated that anyone living there would have a one-in-a-hundred chance of dying from cancer caused by the residual radiation.

It would be decades before the city was inhabitable again, and the demolition of Manhattan might be necessary.

For comparison, consider the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, in which a Soviet nuclear power plant went through a meltdown. Radiation was spread over a vast area, and the region surrounding the plant was permanently closed.

In our current example, the area contaminated to the same level of radiation as that region would cover much of Manhattan (which would also have to be permanently closed.)

Furthermore, near Chernobyl, a larger area has been subject to periodic controls on human use such as restrictions on food, clothing, and time spent outdoors.

In the current example, that equivalent area extends fifteen miles, starting at Manhattan proper and spreading outwards.

Example 3:
Americium (Alpha Emitter)
If a typical americium source used in oil well surveying were blown up with one pound of TNT, people in a region roughly ten times the area of the initial bomb blast would require medical supervision and monitoring.

An area thirty times the size of the first area (a swath one kilometer long and covering twenty city blocks) would have to be evacuated within half an hour.

After the initial passage of the cloud, most of the radioactive materials would settle to the ground. Of these materials, some would be forced back up into the air and inhaled, thus posing a long-term health hazard.

A ten-block area contaminated in this way would have a cancer death probability of one-in-a-thousand. A region two kilometers long and covering sixty city blocks would be contaminated in excess of EPA safety guidelines.

If the buildings in this area had to be demolished and rebuilt, the cost would exceed fifty billion dollars.

Your assignment for today - Think of 5 different ways a terrorist organization could gain access to a medical waste dump).


So as you can see, even if very small amounts of radioactive material are used in a small dirty bomb, we might have some pretty big problems on our hands.

The chances of Terrorists acquiring or already having some of these materials is extremely high.

Even if casualties are low, the terror, economic damage and possible loss of Freedoms in order to protect society and the power structure will be high.

Ever since 911 we have been living in entirely different times and as has been said before, it is pretty much not a question of IF, it is only a matter of WHEN.

Chances are also very high that none of these small dirty bombs will be exploded right where you live and you won't have to deal with evacuation or exposure to radiation.

But let's examine the immediate effects upon you and your loved ones when there is a dirty bomb explosion. (even a relatively minor explosion where only 20 city blocks are in need of immediate evacuation and where actual loss of life is limited).


If you happen to live in the Municipality where the dirty bomb was exploded:

-Once it is discovered that it is dirty (if the authorities even let you know), the city may go into martial law status with all restrictions on travel and other activities put into place. (In today's climate it might not even matter if it is dirty anymore before martial law is declared).

-There may be the possibility of widespread looting and pillage from members of our society who sometimes use these types of situations to their advantage.

-All personnel not essential to any rescue/evacuation efforts will be asked (possibly ordered) to stay at home.

-Most city-wide services will be curtailed or stopped.

-Fear, Terror and Chaos will be the rule of the day; many people are very ignorant about the effects of radiation and there is a great chance that even correct information transmitted by the authorities will either be mis-understood or a matter of too-little-too-late. (Things like, "I heard the guy on the radio say you can catch it from someone else." Or . . . "if you live within 20 city blocks of the explosion please stay at home and cover all of your windows and doors with plastic sheeting", etc).

-Unprepared people will be doing whatever is in their power and whatever they think is correct to protect themselves and their loved ones, often at the expense of others.

-20 city blocks may have to be evacuated immediately and in a large city this could be a logistical nightmare.

-You may have friends or relatives who were either lost or on their way right now to stay with you for awhile.

-The evacuees are going to need care and a place to stay immediately; look at the shipments of nuclear waste right now. Nobody wants it going through 'their' neighborhood. Will people be compassionate and willing to allow the evacuees to stay in a tent city at the football stadium 2 miles away or will they protest? Will they think they can 'catch it' also if the evacuees are too near their location? When the football stadium fills up will authorities force you to open your doors and allow them to stay with you?

-Using some very, very rough and conservative estimates of a large city residential neighborhood we can come up with: 4 apartment building per city block (times) 100 people per building (equals) 400 people per block (times) 20 city blocks (equals) 8,000 people in need of immediate evacuation, care and a place to stay.

-There is the chance that this one explosion will not be an isolated event; will we have another small explosion in another part of the city? Five more explosions? An explosion at the power plant to disrupt electricity flow and cause blackouts at the same time?

And these are just the immediate effects.

If nothing else goes wrong, things will start to return to normalcy in around a week; but what a week it would have been for the people of that city. Will they have pulled together or will they have fallen apart?

And now comes the very long task of rebuilding and regrouping.

Whenever a large city shuts down for a week, you are definitely going to have an economic impact. And you may have thousands of people in need of possible medical care, permanent quarters and sustenance. And you have a large contaminated area to contend with, including either decontamination, demolishment and security to keep people out. And there will be MASSIVE political and sociological repercussions that we won't even begin to discuss.

And folks, this is just from a small dirty bomb explosion here; probably minimal loss of life, but it WILL have some widespread effects if it is of any noticeable size.

We're not talking about a suitcase nuke or any other exotic forms of WMD's. We're talking about a Pound of TNT and a small medical gauge. Heck, I have 5 pounds of TNT here at the house I use for blasting purposes (legally acquired of course).

So you live in the city where this just happened.

What options do you have?

First of all you could bug out to your pre-prepared retreat. A logical and practical choice if you can manage it.

Are you ready???

I mean really ready???

Is the BOV topped off with gas, properly serviced and ready to go?

Are your Bug-Out bags either in the vehicle or very handy where you can get them and go?

Do you have time to pick up the kids at school and go home and pick up the wife before things get clamped down too hard?

Do you have alternate routes from your work to reach each of these destinations?

Do your kids and wife know what the plan is? Dad, are we supposed to wait for you or ride the bus? Does your wife work and can she make it home safely?

Dang, what about the mother-in-law and cat :)

Finally, you have everyone together and are making a run for it; are your routes firmly fixed in your mind? Does your primary route take you right through the contaminated area? Is your alternate route road-blocked by the national Guard? Is your next alternate route filled with traffic and evacuees?

You have finally made it to the suburbs and are starting to feel better when your fuel filter clogs; (I know I should have thrown in an extra one-I bought that extra alternator belt, and knew I should have picked a filter up). No possible way to fix it with what you have, so guess we'll have to hoof it to our retreat which is still 10 miles away. Can the kids do it? the wife? you? the cat? the mother-in-law :)

Lots of things to think about; guess you had better learn how to remain 'Flexible' and how to think on your feet and how to react under pressure.

So you can't make it out for one reason or another. No problem, if you remain calm and are pre-prepared.

You decide that in your situation it is best to just button down the hatches and weather out the storm. You aren't really needed to help out and you have a family to protect.

Once again, are you ready???

I mean really ready???

Do you have food and water to make it through at least 1 week, preferably 2? Ways to prepare it? eat it? Open it? Come on, when was the last time you really looked at that stuff-do it now!

Are your sanitary procedures in place?

Sometimes a much overlooked, but very important part of any plan. Porta-Potty in place with proper equipment in case the water isn't flowing, for one reason or another? What about all those empty tin cans and paper plates that you use up; a family of five will have a lot of empty ones in a week. Put them in a trash bag in the corner? Outside the door? Will this attract animals of both the real and human kind when they see you have food? Feminine napkins? Methods to remain clean? Unless you have been forced to not wash for up to 2 weeks as in the military, you have no idea how bad it may get. We're not talking about the odor. Sweat will encrust all of the hairy parts of your bodies and can cause rashes or worse.Your feet may start sweating unless aired and washed. Sex between you and your partner? Prepare ways to at least have a daily sponge bath, or you are going to have problems!

Outside Communications? Boredom? Defense? Prescription Meds?

Things are going great; you are well fed, clean, relatively happy and it looks like they may have the situation under control when there is a knock on your door.

You look through the peephole and see it is two National Guardsmen, so you yell through your door, "what's up?"

'Sir, we are going to have to ask you to evacuate this area immediately. It appears the radiation has spread a little farther than we thought at first and you are going to have to get leave right now. Please accompany us to our convoy."

What now???

Do we go? Do we refuse? Do we say we are going to take our own vehicle? And what if they say you can't? Do we take our bug-out bags with us? What about the other people in the convoy when they see you have equipment?

(Just to give you some things to think about ;)


If you live 1,000 miles away and are watching all of this on TV:

This will probably be the case for the majority of people; something they see on TV and say how awful, but still go about their daily lives, with it in the back of their minds, but just glad it didn't happen here.

Will you also be effected?

-The first thing which will happen is the entire Country will go to Threat Condition Red and many areas of your life will be disrupted or curtailed.

-There is a good possibility that this won't be an isolated event and there may be more to come within hours or days.

-If it is very large, many evacuees (along with weather conditions) will be spreading radioactive dust, wherever they go.

-There is a small chance that the entire country will be placed under Martial Law, with all of its effects.

-Depending on which city was hit, there may be shortages in one area or another.

-In the long run, there will definitely be huge Economic, Political and Sociological repercussions for all of us.

What can you do to prepare?

In this day and age, the very first thing you should do when you hear about something like this is to do a 'Threat Assesment.' How will this affect me and mine? My business? Is this an unrelated incident or is there more to come? Within hours? Days? Can I be of any help?

Now IMHO, Unfortunately, for whatever reasons, this was not done for 911 for the citizens of this country.

It was done for the power structure, who were immediately protected and evacuated, but not for the rest of us here in the States.

Why not? We may never know the real reasons. Layer upon layer of conspiracy? Possibly. Shock at such a big disaster taking place? Maybe. Lack of communication? Who knows?

What I do see that is from the time that the first plane crashed into the tower, there was another 17 minutes before the second plane crashed and another 52 minutes before the Pentagon crash.

This was a major failure in the area of 'Threat Assessment.' An inability to see the whole picture and only look at the details. Now to see the Twin Towers go up in smoke is a pretty big detail, and it was what most people were totally focused on, but in reality it wasn't the big picture.

The big picture was to disrupt our way of life, cause chaos and prove that America isn't as invincible as a lot of people thought it was and the organization/s which organized this event were ready to go to whatever lengths and means they could to do it.

So the next time something like this happens (and it will), try and see the bigger picture. Don't stay totally glued to the TV or chat rooms which are entirely focused on this one event. Open your eyes and do a proper 'threat assesment.'

Secondly, double-check your preps, just in case. Pretend it actually happened where you are at. Are you ready??? If not, get it done before something causes you not to be able to do so.

Rid yourself of any delusions like . . .

1. It won't ever happen here (in small town America) or to me; I believe that in any future attacks that small town America may be a primary target, just so they can show the world that even in small towns in the Heartland we aren't safe. And as far as it not happening to you, this is the same kind of thinking that sunk the Titanic.

2. Don't fall into the trap that, "There really isn't such a thing as Terrorism; it is all a conspiracy and manufactured by the authorities to control us." Now I do have a lot of un-answered questions about recent events, but I can also see that Terrorism is very real. People are dying all over the world from it every day. It has known leaders, cells, funding sources and an organizational structure. Please don't be fooled into thinking that it isn't real.

Maintain a low profile and prepare yourself for other possibilities, such as evacuees, Martial Law, forced labor for the good of the Country, forced confiscation or redistribution of resources, etc.


So as you can see, the threats of even a small dirty bomb are going to cause many small and large-scale changes to our way of life.

Prepare yourself and adjust your thinking now!


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