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Day 6-Nuclear Disaster Still Possible

Air Force One arrived with President Clinton; he and Mrs. Clinton greeted five members from the DMAT as they deplaned. For the rest of us, the base was "locked down," meaning the windows were sealed, the hangar doors were shut and no one was allowed to enter or leave the base until the president and his company departed for the Olympics.

A lecture from a representative of the Department of Energy (DOE) at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, told us of the peacetime nuclear threat we are facing. For instance, a number of years ago a 14-year-old Orlando, Fla., youth threatened to blow up Orlando with a nuclear device unless he was given $1 million. The DOE representative went on to describe the small amounts of uranium needed to fuel a bomb-there was only 1 kilogram of uranium in the Hiroshima bomb. He then showed on a map of Atlanta what the destructive force of a 0.1 kiloton bomb to a 10 megaton bomb might be.

A 10 megaton could eradicate Atlanta and all surrounding areas, including where we were stationed. He again underscored the fact that the biggest problem in such a mass casualty besides those who are injured by the blast and heat would be those people who believe they have been exposed to radiation. These multitudes would be panicked and in need of immediate help for stress reduction. Another problem might be with rescue workers who fear that radiation victims can contaminate others. This is not true, unless irradiated material that clings to their clothes. Those actually irradiated will begin to show symptoms two to six hours later if they haven't been exposed to an overwhelming dose. The lecturer concurred that it would be difficult to differentiate those who have been exposed to radiation from the panicky ones who believe they have.

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