Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Protection of Sheltering In Place-The 40 Percent Truth

My morning coffee was interrupted by the ringing of the turned out to be the reverse 911 system calling to let me know that Entergy's new siren close to my home will be sounding off today somewhere between 9-11:30 AM as Indian Point tries to get its new system to perform correctly. Happy, happy, joy, joy. Being in a generous mood this morning, lets assume that the system actually works. Now, lets assume there is a fast breaking event at the facility, and the alarms are going off in at least 94 percent (The NRC benchmark for pass/fail) of the affected area.

Assuming everyone is at home for this event, you grab your wife/husband, children, and Pedro the dog and rush into the house to begin implementation of the Emergency Evacuation Plan. As the children race through the house closing up windows, Pedro is barking incessantly, and you run to retrieve your handy roll of duct tape, your wife turns to channel 12 to listen for updates. In truth, there is a very real chance that your local news station is not going to have anything of much use for as long as a couple hours! Hey, it takes time to get everyone in place, ascertain the full scope of the emergency, then start feeding information and instructions out to the media, and from there out onto the now contaminated airwaves. Not to worry...the folks at Homeland Security and FEMA have made available to the media some pre-made (CANNED) messages to keep you calm during this potentially grave period of uncertainty.

STAY OR GO? Based on the above, the odds are, that you need to make this call sooner rather than later. Fact-if (as GNB suspects) it takes a couple of hours for the various agencies to get their act together and give the public its marching orders, full chaos will have already broken out. It is commonsense to believe this...if you hear the sirens, if it is an actual emergency, how long are you going to be sitting idly by waiting on Channel 12 to give you news you can use? If you follow the rules, the best advice on avoiding exposure is putting DISTANCE between you and the source, so EVACUATE.

Grabbing a few carefully chosen possessions, you scoop up Pedro the dog, and race the family down to the street and leap into the mini-van to make your escape. You put the car in gear, drive two blocks and run smack dab into a wall to wall, bumper to bumper traffic jam on Whelcher Street...WHOOPS, the doubters were right, evacuation will not work. With 27 cars now honking behind you, the realization hits...we have to shelter in place.Throwing the car in park, you, Pedro the dog,the wife and kids set off back to the house to shelter in place, abandoning the minivan where it sits.

Safe and secure back in your home,you begin implementation of plan B as the announcer tells you again for the forty third time to stay tuned for breaking news and instructions on this breaking nuclear event. As you are taping off the windows in the attic bedroom you glance towards Indian Point's Domes only to see that one of them is missing, and a large plumb/explosion has lifted up into the sky...breaking into a chilled sweat you scream at your family to move everything down into the basement.

Windows shut and taped over with plastic, the doors locked, you and your family sit huddled together in the basement that has no heat, the children whimpering as you wait for news and far, all you have gotten from Channel 12, is that you are expected to SHELTER IN PLACE. Do you really think the news that the core has been breached is going to be let out onto the airwaves sooner than later, risking mass hysteria in the New York city area, home to over 20 million people...sorry, no amount of security could control that situation, so they are going to clamp down on the news by throwing up and exclusion zone.

Enter the plain truth...according to the Center for Disease Control, if you shelter in your basement in a typical wood frame house, you, your wife/husband, your children and Pedro the dog are only protected from FORTY PERCENT of the radioactive contaminants in a BEST CASE SCENARIO. Houston, we have a problem! This gives you less than a 50/50 chance of coming out of a significant radiological event and/or terrorist attack unscathed if the NRC and your local officials order you sheltered in place.

Some 12-14 hours into this event you notice your children (who are more susceptible)are vomiting profusely. Somehow, you have to get them to the hospital, so you protect yourselves the best you can, and make a mad dash through the falling radioactive particles to your second car that is parked in the garage. Somehow, you make it through the chaos to the Hudson Valley Medical Center Emergency Room (sponsored by Entergy)that has been recieving MASS CASUALTIES. Citizens are being corraled into roped off areas OUTSIDE the facility in the radioactive fallout area. Sorry, but if you go to the REAC/TS site and read their Radiological Triage document, this is NOT some far out concocted scenerio written by some drug crazed, long haired hippie. The walking wounded, and those who may have been exposed take a second seat to the seriously wounded. Further, the REACT/TS site admits that staff could be over run.

To deal with this reality, emergency planners have been instructed to A) suspend the rule of law in the exclusion zone, and B) have adequate law/military enforcement on the scene at hospitals to control a frenzied, out of control general short, even though your children are exhibiting all the signs of radioactive contamination, it could be hours, even days before they are attended to. They may survive the incident, but they are now a cancer death waiting to happen, months or years later.

The NRC and NEI adit they have far to little knowledge on the effects brittling will have on a reactor core's susceptibility to thermal shock. As a potter, I can tell you a vessel that experiences thermal shock will shatter, plan and simple, sending shards exploding into the atmosphere. With this uncertainty, with the very real fact that sheltering in place only protects you from 40 percent of the fallout, can we really afford to relicense Indian Point for 20 more years?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the 60's when all public buildings including school were established as fall out shelters in case of nuclear attack. Why are all these people at home? Should they all be at work, school, or day care? Just run down to the mass transit terminal and grab a train. The alarm is going off and it is not a siren!