According to USA Today, 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 sent to local government officials. The Administration’s alarming admission makes even more inexplicable its failure to make KI available throughout the country.
At the recent Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C., President Obama told delegates from around the world that if al-Qaeda or another terrorist group got a nuclear device, the loss of life would be catastrophic. And, he noted, it would be extremely hard to mitigate damage from the blast.
The guide, which is entitled, “Planning Guidance for Response to a Nuclear Detonation,” was developed by a task force headed by the White House Homeland Security Council. It was circulated to state and local government officials and first responders in January 2009.
According to the guide, a 10-kiloton nuclear explosion would level buildings within half a mile of ground zero, generate 900-mph winds, bathe the landscape with radiation and produce a plume of fallout that would drift for hundreds of miles. Disaster experts say local governments aren’t prepared for a nuclear attack. “There isn’t a single American city, in my estimation, that has sufficient plans for a nuclear terrorist event,” says Irwin Redlener of Columbia University‘s Mailman School of Public Health.