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Medical Consequences of a Nuclear Plant Attack or Accident around Chicago Andrew S. Kanter, MD MPH Physicians for Social Responsibility/ Chicago Chapter.

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Presentation on theme: "Medical Consequences of a Nuclear Plant Attack or Accident around Chicago Andrew S. Kanter, MD MPH Physicians for Social Responsibility/ Chicago Chapter."— Presentation transcript:

1 Medical Consequences of a Nuclear Plant Attack or Accident around Chicago Andrew S. Kanter, MD MPH Physicians for Social Responsibility/ Chicago Chapter

2 Agenda for Today Introduction The World Today: Fear and Opportunity Nuclear Power Plant Security Fissile Materials as Targets for Attack Medical Consequences of Attacks on Braidwood

3 The splitting of the atom changed everything, save our modes of thinking, and we thus drift towards unparalleled catastrophe. -Albert Einstein, 1946



6 The single greatest danger…

7 Nuclear Power Plants in the US 104 operating nuclear power plants and 36 non-power reactors in the US 11 operating plants in Northern Illinois Produce 8% of the nation’s energy

8 Common Reactor Types Boiling WaterPressurized Water Images from NRC

9 Spent Fuel Storage After 12-24 months in the reactor, fuel is offloaded into cooling ponds Must remain until cool More than 10x the radioactive material than the core (20-50 million curies Cs-137- Chernobyl released 2 million curies)

10 Nuclear Plant Security Core protected by containment dome Coolant supply critical (20,000-500,000 g/m) Spent fuel pools vulnerable Security strengthened after 9/11 Force-on-Force tests woefully inadequate Small group of terrorists with one insider Lone insider Four-wheel drive vehicle bomb

11 Accident/Attack at Braidwood PWR producing 2500 MW at full power 50+ mi SW of Chicago Two scenarios: Reactor vessel breach Spent fuel pond fire

12 Analysis Tools HPAC- Hazard Prediction and Assessment Capability from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency CATS- Consequences Assessment Tool Set from the Federal Emergency Management Agency

13 Braidwood Scenario 1 Catastrophic coolant failure Core exposed causing fire and breach 4% of core/hr burned Summer Day Normal Temperatures Broken Clouds

14 Radiation Sickness The signs and symptoms of radiation sickness include: Nausea and vomiting Diarrhea Skin burns Weakness/Fatigue Loss of appetite Fainting Inflammation of tissues Mucosal bleeding Low red blood cell count/anemia Hair loss

15 Biological Effects of Radiation (REM) 0-20 Potential for genetic consequences 20-100 Temporary decrease in white blood cell count. 100-200 Acute radiation sickness - nausea, vomiting, longer-term decrease in white blood cells. 200-300 Vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, death in some cases. 300-600 Vomiting, diarrhea, hemorrhaging, deaths occurring in 50% of cases at 350+ REM Above 600 Eventual death in almost all cases

16 Braidwood Total Effective Dose Equivalent South Bend Fort Wayne Joliet

17 Braidwood Evacuation Area Grand Rapids

18 Medical Consequences The number of acutely ill people would overwhelm all available care facilities Many facilities will not be available due to contamination: 113 hospitals would fall within the occupational exposure zone (including two VA hospitals) affecting more than 32,000 potential beds. Nearly 20,000 physicians in five counties would receive greater than occupational maximums for radiation exposure from the plume itself, let alone that from contaminated patients.

19 Medical Consequences First responders, like firefighters would also be badly affected. The 25 firefighters of Essex Fire Department would possibly receive lethal doses, and the 67 firefighters of Braidwood and Herscher departments would be suffering from radiation sickness. Another 10,500 firefighters in 355 other departments would have exceeded occupational exposures from the plume itself and would be unavailable to respond within the highly contaminated area. Police departments would also be hard hit in Essex, Braidwood and Herscher with the 38 police officers receiving potentially lethal doses of radiation.

20 Braidwood Scenario 2 Spent Fuel Pond (SPF) Fire--Loss of coverage causing Zirconium fire 3 assemblies destroyed, releasing Cs-137 Cs-137 half-life of 60 years, potent gamma emitter. 50% of 10-y.o. fuel is Cs. Summer Day Normal Temperatures Broken Clouds

21 No Security Plans for SFP The NRC has denied petitions by citizen groups seeking enhanced protections from terrorist acts against reactor spent-fuel pools. In its decision, the NRC has asserted that “the possibility of a terrorist attack... is speculative and simply too far removed from the natural or expected consequences of agency action... ”

22 SFP Total Effective Dose Equivalent

23 SFP Evacuation Area

24 SFP Thyroid Dose Protection

25 Indian Point Comparison 3,500-44,000 immediate deaths 100,000-500,000 long term deaths due to cancer Economic damages within 100 mi range from $1.1-2.1 trillion



28 What You Can Do Speak out and educate Write to your leaders, newspapers, friends Stop producing more nuclear materials Secure all existing nuclear materials Shut down nuclear power plants and transition to renewable sources Transfer waste from wet pools to dry storage casks Develop long term storage for waste on site

29 For More Information Chicago PSR: 4750 N. Sheridan Road #439 Chicago, IL 60640 (773) 989-4655 R. Alvarez et al., “Reducing the Hazards from Stored Spent Power- Reactor Fuel in the United States,” Science and Global Security 11 (2003): 1-51. D. Hirsch, “The NRC: What, me worry?,” Bulletin of Atomic Scientists 58(1): 38-44. E. Lyman, “Chernobyl on the Hudson?,” Union of Concerned Scientists, September 2004: 1-54. Visit PSR’s website at: or contact PSR at: 1875 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 1012 Washington, DC, 20009 Telephone: (202) 667-4260 Fax: (202) 667-4201

30 Cask Accident on Train Line


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