Q: Who Needs Radiation Monitoring & Warning Instruments?
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A: The reasons for acquiring radiation detection instruments and formulating a family nuclear response strategy are as varied as are peoples concerns for the future and the safety of their loved ones in this ever changing world. The following all-inclusive list would require different responses (sheltering or evacuation) depending on the nature of the nuclear emergency, but clearly survival in all would be enhanced with having radiological instruments close at hand.
The specific causes of potential life-threatening nuclear radiation emergencies include...
Nuclear power plant accidents here or abroad (Three Mile Island, Chernobyl)
Nuclear materials processing plant accidents (Tokaimura, Japan)
Nuclear waste (radioactive waste from hospitals, spent fuel and radioactive waste from nuclear power plants, radioactive contaminated materials, etc.) storage or processing facilities mishaps
Nuclear waste transport truck or train accidents
Accidents involving non-waste, but normal daily nuclear materials transport (trucks, planes, trains, couriers) One out every 50 HazMat shipments contain radioactive materials. Approximately three million packages of radioactive material are shipped in the United States each year.
Improper storage of radioactive materials (non-waste) at any point during their normal material life cycle. (Power plants, Medical, Industrial, Academic, etc.)
Lost or stolen radioactive sources (Over the last 50 years, incidents of lost and stolen licensed radioactive devices occur at the rate of once every other day. See Lost and Stolen Nuclear Materials in the U.S.)
Nuclear terrorism here via...
An attack on, or sabotage of, a nuclear power plant. (See Sabotage and Terrorism of Nuclear Power Plants)
Or, a real terrorist atomic bomb detonated here (See Do terrorists really have nukes here?)
Or, much more likely, conventional explosives used to disperse radioactive materials (dirty bomb) to effectively contaminate an area and much within in it. (See Do terrorists really have nukes here?)
Or, food or water supplies could be contaminated with radioactive materials.
Or, a strong radioactive source could be placed in a location adjacent to where large numbers of the public would file past. They would be unknowingly and dangerously exposed to it, such as at a subway que, sports arena or stadium, etc.
Limited nuclear war overseas with the fallout carried here by the wind (See Trans-Pacific Fallout for threat here if any of the 'players' went nuclear in the Mid-East, or Pakistan, India, Korea, China, Russia, etc.)
Nuclear War involving a direct attack upon the USA. (Think that's highly unlikely in your life-time? See Nuclear War Unthinkable? Russian & Chinese Preparations Today! and The Final Phase)
Everybody will have different opinions about which of the above nuclear threats is most likely to occur or impact their own family sometime in the future. Regardless, though, in all cases, knowing exactly what the radioactivity is, where you are standing, will always make for better informed decisions in then taking the correct protective action to minimize any future radiation exposure for your family.