More than 150 local emergency responders and federal personnel at a Tuesday conference considered the aftermath of a potential nuclear explosion in Manhattan, Newsday reported (see GSN, Feb. 15).
Participants in the meeting, sponsored by the Suffolk County Police Department, also focused on recently developed ideas on guarding local populations against radioactive contaminants from such a blast.
An act of terrorism involving a nuclear device is thought to be less probable than an attack employing standard explosives or an unconventional weapon such as a radiological “dirty bomb,” according to Newsday. Still, any nuclear attack as large as the 1945 U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan, would have a catastrophic impact.
Radiation from a nuclear detonation in New York’s Times Square could drift over the entire city and areas of Long Island, according to a computer model developed by Brooke Buddemeier, a health physicist with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.
“That was the best thing they saw [at the meeting]; it really was an eye opener,” said Inspector Stuart Cameron, who oversees the Suffolk County Police Department’s special patrol bureau. “The first and most important thing is people should seek shelter immediately; that has to be part of a public awareness campaign,” he added.
A 10-kiloton nuclear blast would kill tens of thousands of people and level buildings within half a mile. Buildings between half a mile and a mile away would experience significant destruction, and windows within six miles would be shattered.
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