Athens, Ga. A new study by researchers at the Center for Mass Destruction Defense (CMADD) at the University of Georgia details the catastrophic impact a nuclear attack would have on American cities.
The study, which the authors said was the most advanced and detailed simulation published in open scientific literature, highlights the inability of the nation's current medical system to handle casualties from a nuclear attack. It also suggests what the authors said are much needed yet relatively simple interventions that could save tens of thousands of lives.
"The likelihood of a nuclear weapon attack in an American city is steadily increasing, and the consequences will be overwhelming" said Cham Dallas, CMADD director and professor in the UGA College of Pharmacy. "So we need to substantially increase our preparation."
Dallas and co-author William Bell, CMADD senior research scientist and faculty member of the UGA College of Public Health, examined four high-profile American cities New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C. and Atlanta and modeled the effects of a 20 kiloton nuclear detonation and a 550 kiloton detonation. (For comparison, the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were in the 12 to 20 kiloton range). Bell explained that a 20 kiloton weapon could be manufactured by terrorists and fledgling nuclear countries such as North Korea and Iran, while a 550 kiloton device is commonly found in the arsenal of the former Soviet Union and therefore is the most likely to be stolen by terrorists.
The study, which took three years to complete and appears in the current issue of the International Journal of Health Geographics, combines data on the impact of the devices, prevailing weather patterns and block-level population data from the U.S. Census Bureau to provide a level of detail previously unavailable.
Among the study's findings: