Friday, September 11, 2009

What They Didn't Tell You In The Old 1950's Civil Defense Manuals

The fallout decay rates they published in the old civil defense manuals assume that a nuclear detonation is taking place in a large field of pure silica - sand, as all the groundburst nuclear tests were staged. The results are for "unsullied" bursts that vaporize sand into glass and superheated silicon gases.

The problem is that in real life there is no such thing as an "unsullied" nuclear burst conducted near ground level.

In any metropolitan city there are a million contaminants which could extend the radioactive half-life from weeks to decades. You will find cobalt (used widely in industry and medicine) cesium, precursors of americium and many other pollutants inside the fireball that will not wane for many moons. Depending on wind distribution and airflow patterns you might have areas that remained unsafe a half a century out.

Of course, all this is also based on the naive assumption that the nation using the weapon did not deliberately salt the warhead to maximize it's radioactive yield to begin with. Vault-Co promises you that this is highly unlikely during a nuclear war, despite whatever some game theory academic may have postulated previously.


Anonymous said...

Wouldn't the standard airburst at about 150 meters AGL be a bit far away from the ground for any contaminants to get the required proton/neutron irradiation that would be required to convert the non silica conatminants into radioisotopes? Sure a ground burst would do it but it would seem that missile silos are not in populated areas.
Salted seems the most likely way to go for a scorched earth policy.


Anonymous said...

OT question. with regards to your vault, what is it's height above sea level? Also with what Felix has said about a pole shift, what do you see as the minimum safe level?