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Surgeons association journal articles warns U.S. lacks ability to detect radiation fallout

TUCSON, AZ Sept. 1, 2016 At the end of the Cold War, the U.S. buried its preparations for a nuclear attack, but there is a growing threat today of radiological emergency. Evidence includes Russia is building new underground nuclear command posts and adopting a new defense doctrine that calls for a possible nuclear response to a conventional threat. In the fall issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, Arthur Levy writes that threats include radiological dispersal devices (RDDs or "dirty bombs"), improvised nuclear devices (INDs), and strategic nuclear warheads carried by advanced delivery systems such as ballistic missiles.

Today, most U.S. radiological instruments are designed for interdiction—discovering a device before it explodes. These instruments are highly sensitive and could detect such a device at a distance closer than about 50 feet, Levy states. After an explosion, however, different instruments are needed with a much higher dose range.

A copy of the article is available at: http://jpands.org/vol21no3/levy.pdf

Levy describes the Environmental Protection Agency's RadNet system, with some 135 fixed stations and a few dozen deployable stations, and the RadResponder Network, a collaborative effort by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other agencies. Currently lacking are automated stations that continuously monitor for both "cloudshine" and "groundshine" over a very broad dosage range. Such stations are available at very affordable cost, but so far government has not recognized the need.

Agencies seem to believe that "it can't happen here," Levy observes.

The catastrophic impact of a nuclear explosion is well described. Less often discussed is that thousands or potentially millions of lives could be preserved by providing real-time radiation measurements that aid in preventing panic or warning the public of the need for shelter, the article notes.

The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons is published by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), a national organization representing physicians in all specialties since 1943.


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