September 2007 (vol. 23, #6)
1601 N Tucson Blvd #9, Tucson AZ 85716
c 2007 Physicians for Civil Defense

Civil Defense Breakthrough

Civil defense has seemed moribund for decades. But a spark of life has remained despite neglect, apathy, and sustained determined efforts to kill it.

The United States faces lethal threats on many sides. The government dare not admit to the seriousness of the situation. If we are attacked with nuclear weapons, the inexcusable neglect of the common defense by our government will condemn millions to needless death.

But the United States does not have to die.

Survival of the nation is possible, at a remarkably low cost.

Perhaps never before in history have so few had such an extraordinary opportunity to help so many.

Our readers are among those few.

What Would It Take?
Long ago, the United States rejected the option of building excellent shelters into our infrastructure. It is possible that a robust homeland defense would eventually develop in the aftermath of a limited attack. But the more likely scenario may be multiple simultaneous attacks. Having a few scattered individuals with shelter and radiation meter is not enough.

For less than $20 million, America could have a nationwide radiation monitoring net (see September 2005 issue). This is a tiny fraction of the amount being spent for highly sensitive instruments for interdiction, which would be worse than useless in a post-attack environment. The Department of Homeland Security could easily fund this; Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Rep. Charles Dent (R-PA) have expressed interest in meeting to re-establish civil defense. If the federal government were to fund a program today, and get out of the way, a basic nationwide monitoring program could be in place in as little as 18 months. The federal government, however, is highly unlikely to act in this way.

PCD has previously given hundreds of these devices to first responders and others. We planted seeds. But only one monitoring net that we know of was operational–until now. At last, a community model has emerged.

Under the leadership of Kirk Paradise, Huntsville-Madison County, Alabama, has developed a prototype capable of rapid replication by local governments. It started with revival of the fallout shelter identification program (DDP Newsletter, May 2007). It has expanded to include other essential elements of the Nuclear War Survival Skills plan–originally developed by dedicated government scientists as the federal default plan. For the first time, NWSS has been posted on a public website: see The website includes the “Fallout Shelter Manager's Guide,” the Madison County shelter list, and a procedure manual for shelter complex headquarters. There is also a Power Point presentation for a shelter manager's course.

Madison County has allocated $5,000 to buy NukAlerts for its radiation monitoring net; 250 instruments will be donated by Physicians for Civil Defense and 250 by KI4U. About 200 will be kept in public fallout shelters, and the remainder will be carried by mobile units.

In the Madison County model, each NukAlert covers about 1,000 persons. In the Martha's Vineyard (Mass.) model, where NukAlerts are carried by police, each instrument covers about 2,000 people.

While very important for measuring dose-rate and determining the adequacy of shelter, the single most important feature of the monitoring net would be to prevent panic.

As Cresson Kearny wrote in the introduction to NWSS:

When Hitler first bombed London the panic the bombs caused did far more damage than the bombs themselves. After the citizens of London lost their exaggerated fears of the bombings, life went on much as normal. And so would it be with a nuclear terrorist attack on the U.S. One nuclear bomb exploded in a U.S. city would likely be very small. And though it could do catastrophic damage in a small area, its relative impact on the physical infrastructure of the whole United States would be extremely small. However, because of the irrational, universal fear people have of any radioactivity, the panic that would ensue from such an attack would do far more damage than the attack itself.

Kearny writes that people could carry on with daily necessities of life in most areas. If we allowed irrational fear and panic to shut down trucking, communications, and vital services, the disaster would be far greater than necessary. Making and using a Kearny Fallout Meter (KFM) before it is needed will help people lose their irrational fear, and in an emergency conduct themselves in a manner that could save their own lives and many others.

Five Loaves and Two Fishes
Starting a meaningful civil defense program for America looks as impossible as feeding a crowd of 5,000 with only five loaves and two fishes. PCD is giving what it has, in faith that if America deserves to survive, the needed resources will be forthcoming. Two years ago, we were able to raise enough money in contributions and loans to help finance a new run of NukAlerts. A minimum of ten times the existing inventory is needed for a national net. But it is still possible to have a better system than we had in the 1960s, for a fraction of the cost.

Steve Jones points out that large areas of Peru lack a hard-wired conventional telephone system. With cellular telephones, Peru was able to skip the huge expense of such a system altogether. NukAlerts are to radiologic monitoring what cell phones are to communication, he explains.

To amplify our resources, we're distributing kits with materials needed to make KFMs and hard copies of NWSS along with NukAlerts. KFMs and NukAlerts complement and augment each other. Mass-produced KFMs could fill the gap while more sophisticated instruments are being manufactured. And with the internet, the work of emergency managers in one county can help to jump start similar programs elsewhere–why not in your county?

It's up to us. What will you do for civil defense today?


Duct Tape and Sheltering in Place

If you are preparing an expedient shelter in your home, it is important to have as much massive shielding as possible. Duct tape and plastic, of course, do not protect against gamma rays. However, it is also vital to keep fallout particles out of the shelter to minimize ingestion and inhalation of alpha and beta emitters. Duct tape is very useful for this purpose.

If you are sheltering in a basement, Wayne LeBaron suggests cutting cotton cloth in strips 1.5 to 2 inches wide for upstairs windows and doors. Place a strip on a flat surface, and place tape along one edge. Lift cloth and tape together; put the cloth over the opening; apply the tape; then tape the other side of the cloth, taking care not to block the opening so that air can enter. Open basement windows two to four inches, and tape a double thickness of cotton cloth over the opening.

If you must go outdoors, you need to wear protective clothing, including goggles and some sort of device to filter air. A handkerchief or cloth over the mouth and nose is better than nothing. Face mask filters, surgical masks, and filters for paint spraying, LeBaron writes, are about as effective as face-fitting rubber masks with replaceable filters, but much less expensive. Neither is effective for fine fallout, chemicals, or biologic agents. Military surplus gas masks, which might be available at a bargain price from surplus outlets and catalog sales, will filter out radioactive particles and dusts, toxic vapors, and possibly biologic agents (Preparation for Nuclear Disaster, Kroshka Books, 2001).

A far better way of supplying filtered air, for those who have made some advance preparation, is described in detail in NWSS, pp 270-271 (also see November 2005 issue of CDP). A home-made filter box attached to a Kearny Plywood Double-Action Piston Pump should remove practically all radioactive fallout and most infective aerosols. The box uses furnace or air-conditioner filters topped with two layers of bath towels.

Kearny notes that only 3 cubic feet per minute (cfm) of air flow is adequate to keep carbon dioxide levels low enough, even for infirm persons in a crowded shelter for days. However, 25 cfm per occupant may be needed to keep heat and humidity conditions tolerable.

A proper NBC (nuclear/chemical/biologic) shelter will have a LUWA pump, like those is Swiss homes. But, as G.K. Chesterton said, “anything worth doing is worth doing badly.”

Simply staying indoors and keeping out most fallout could save many unprepared Americans who would otherwise perish.


Evacuation Disasters

Under some circumstances, evacuation may be essential or desirable; see “Approach to Evacuation Preparedness” by Eric Palmer.

At other times, evacuation is another disaster.

“The responsibility of leaders is to instill confidence in times of disaster,” writes Dr. Steven Hotze, “but [during Hurricane Rita] Houston's politicians and media fed millions of people's fears by encouraging them to evacuate unnecessarily. The unintended consequences were not considered and over a million people found themselves out of their homes and in harm's way on the freeway.”

Before the hurricane, the mayor advised those who were not in a mandatory evacuation zone to evacuate voluntarily. The result was a herd mentality and an enormous traffic jam in a 150-mile radius of Houston–a New Orleans Superdome situation without a roof. Tens of thousands ran out of gas, causing more stalled traffic in 95 F heat. Many people had no food or water. The mayor asked the federal government to “fly in gasoline.”

Instead of studying past hurricanes, which most Houstonians rode out without fleeing, Houston reacted to media hype about a repeat of Katrina. Unlike New Orleans, Houston is 40 feet above sea level and 50 miles from the coast.


A Surge of Hurricane Damage

By 2040, the world may well experience $1 trillion in weather-related damage. But spending $1 trillion to reduce CO2 emissions won't help, writes Bjorn Lomborg (WSJ 8/24/07).

Even if global climate models proved correct, and the Kyoto Protocol were adhered to, the increase in hurricane damage would be cut by less than 0.5%. In contrast, other measures could cut the increase by 90%. These include ending state-subsidized, low-cost insurance that encourages people to build in high-risk areas; upgrading protective infrastructure; protecting natural barriers; and simple construction measures like securing roof trusses. One insurer found that 500 storm-hit locations that had implemented all hurricane-loss prevention methods had one-eighth the losses of those who had not done so. Spending $2.5 million averted $500 million in damage.


Threat Update

Successful live firing tests of the Russian S-400 were conducted in July. The S-400 is capable of intercepting and destroying stealth aircraft, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles with a 3,500-km range moving at 4.8 km/sec at a distance up to 400 km. This is twice the range of the U.S. MIM-104 Patriot, according to the Israeli intelligence site DEBKA.

“The haste with which these missiles are being stationed around the Russian capital shows President Vladimir Putin going all-out to prove Russia is ahead in the race for missile superiority.” After the end of the Cold War, the ABM system around Moscow was reportedly rendered nonoperational by removal of the nuclear warheads from the interceptors. This may have been intended to change U.S. and British targeting strategy, but re-deployment may be in progress.


Effects of Nuclear Weapons

The 1977 classic work by Glasstone and Dolan, together with a bomb computer kit, has been reprinted by Steve Harris; it's available for $77.91, Click on the “Homeland Security” button.


The Earliest Warning

As most municipalities have no attack warning system, the earliest warning of a missile attack might be an electromagnetic pulse (EMP). A nuclear weapon exploded at an altitude of 60 mi over Nebraska would shut down nationwide communications. It's not a bad idea to revive EMP alarms–technically power failure alarms, suggests Steve Jones. In a power outage, the alarm goes off, and you need to check whether the telephone and battery-powered radio work. Assuming that you don't see a bright light or hear loud booms, you may have 15 minutes to head for your shelter. A few low-cost mini blast shelters are available from The design is from Fighting Chance Newsletter, October 1990.