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Nuclear Regulatory Commission fails to recognise the real danger of dirty bombs

U.S. nuclear regulators do not recognize real danger of dirty bombs, watchdog says

Besides killing people with radiation, a dirty bomb would spread panic, prompt evacuations, require cleanup and undermine the economy, says a new report.  NBC News,  By Dan De Luce,5 Apr19

WASHINGTON — The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is failing to recognize the full range of dangers posed by a potential dirty bomb attack and needs to take more action to secure high-risk radioactive material, according to a government watchdog report released Thursday.

In assessing the possible effect of a radioactive dirty bomb detonated in an American city, the U.S. nuclear regulator has only focused on the possible health effects caused by the spread of radiation, the Government Accountability Office report said. But the NRC has not taken into account the potential consequences of a panic-driven evacuation and costly decontamination effort, according to the report.

“NRC’s regulatory approach in many ways is based on the idea that a dirty bomb would not be a high consequence event,” said David Trimble, director of the National Resources and Environment office at the GAO.

“Their view of what the risk is is very circumscribed, it’s very narrow.”

A dirty bomb uses a conventional explosive combined with radioactive material to spread radiation over a wider area, and some terrorist groups have sought to construct such a device over the years.

Rather than deaths or harm caused by radiation, the most significant impact of a radioactive dirty bomb would be its disruptive effect, by spreading panic, prompting evacuations, requiring cleanup work and undermining economic activity, said the report, citing experts convened by the National Academy of Sciences as well as other studies.

A chaotic evacuation could cause more deaths than any radiation released in an attack, and the results of the disruption and contamination could cause billions of dollars in damage, the report said………

The NRC’s staff operates under guidelines that require it to only evaluate the risk of a dirty bomb based on immediate deaths and other health effects of the radiation released.

“If you’re using that as a criteria to regulate, you’re kind of missing the boat,” Trimble said.

The GAO also urged the nuclear agency to take additional measures to safeguard smaller quantities of high-risk radioactive material, arguing that even smaller amounts could still have major consequences in a dirty bomb incident.  https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/national-security/u-s-nuclear-regulators-do-not-recognize-real-danger-dirty-n990756

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April 6, 2019 - Posted by | safety, USA, weapons and war

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