Cleanup Costs From "Dirty Bomb"
Could be Enormous
Potential deaths and decontamination costs tied to "dirty bombs" - conventional explosives laced with radioactive materials - have been underestimated, says prominent researcher Peter Zimmerman.
Zimmerman of London's
King College, is the former chief scientist for the U.S. Senate Foreign
Relations Committee. He discussed the threat at the American Physical
Society meeting earlier this week.
"The truth is
somewhere in the middle," Zimmerman says.
Past estimates of
deaths based on the Brazilian incident failed to account for people breathing
in or eating dust after a dirty-bomb attack, Zimmerman says, increasing
their radiation dose and the death toll. He advises that simple steps
to avoid the dust should be provided to the public if such an attack occurs.
The cleanup costs from a dirty bomb would be enormous, says Jaime Yassif of the Federation of American Scientists, who addressed the physicists. "And the public may still refuse to return to a contaminated area."
Yassid went on to say that more planning must be made for cleanup after a dirty bomb attack.