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Nuclear explosions, preparation and vademecum

On 18.3.22 FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (USA), updated the vade mecum that the population must follow in case of nuclear explosions. (1)

The Italian government, on the other hand, has published the national plan for the public management of related emergencies, without providing any information to citizens.

Some basic notions help to understand the risks associated with the supply of weapons by Italy and the EU in a conflict between other countries.

1) Nuclear explosions

1.1) Introduction

The nuclear explosions they can occur without warning or within a few seconds or minutes to follow. Due to devices that use a nuclear reaction to create an explosion.

Il fallout (i.e. fallout of radioactive material) can take over a quarter of an hour after the explosion to reach the ground in areas outside the immediately affected area.

After the passage of the shock wave you have about 10 minutes to find the nearest refuge (see par. 1.3) where you can stay in the first 24 hours, when the radiation levels are higher.

1.2) Dangers

The dangers related to nuclear explosions include:

- glow. The flash bright can cause temporary blindness. For less than a minute, according to FEMA,
- shock wave. Twice blast (static overpressure and winds caused by the explosion) is the first cause of damage to structures and deaths, even kilometers away,
- fire and heat, same as cs,
- radiation. They can damage the cells of the body, depending on the levels of exposure,
- fallout. Earth, debris and radioactive materials that precipitate from several km high can cause diseases above all to those who are outdoors,
- electromagnetic pulse. The CD electromagnetic pulse it can damage electrical and electronic equipment miles away and cause temporary outages further away.

2) Preparation

Il vade mecum di FEMA suggests preparedness for the hazards of nuclear explosions, reporting (yes, you can learn it) the places to find refuge and the supplies to be prepared.

2.1) Refuge

It is essential identify in advance the places of refuge in the immediate vicinity of where you usually spend the day (e.g. home, work, school):

- the best shelters are underground (basements) and in the central areas of buildings, away from windows

- outdoor areas, vehicles, bungalow DO NOT provide adequate shelter. We need stone, brick, concrete, cement.

It is appropriate Do 'shopping [of goods] essentials and slowly accumulate stocks in advance', according to FEMA, also'to protect those unable to procure basic necessities before the pandemic'.

2.2) kit emergency and food supplies

The refuges they should come equipped with Kit emergency and food supplies. And it is in any case useful to keep a Kit available, considering the possible need to stay in a shelter for a few days. We recommend:

- bottled water, long-life foods also for people with food allergies and intolerances, (2) pet food for pets,
- emergency medicines (first aid and medicines in use), disposable devices for people with disabilities,
- soap, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, personal and premises cleaning products,
- spare clothes,
- battery operated (or hand held) radio to obtain information in the event of a power failure,
- torch,
- extra batteries and charging devices for phones, essential items and other critical equipment.

3) In case of nuclear explosions

WHO (World Health Organization) has provided some recommendations to be followed in case of nuclear explosions. So decline by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, USA):

- near the explosion. Close your eyes and lie on the ground in a prone position (belly down) with your hands under your body, until the heat and the two shock waves pass through,

- outdoors during the explosion. Cover mouth and nose with tissue, remove dust from clothing without exposing mouth and nose. Move to a shelter or other underground area as soon as possible. Remove potentially contaminated clothes, wash thoroughly and take off clothes prima to enter the refuge,

- in the shelter during the explosion. Cover the mouth and nose with a mask or other tissue, close the ventilation systems, seal doors and windows until the relapse passes (fallout). Stay inside until further notice from the authorities. In case of necessary exit, cover mouth and nose with a damp towel, eat only stored food and do not take food and water outdoors, clean and cover open wounds on the body,

- evacuation notice. Follow the news media to move in an orderly manner. Close and lock doors and windows, ventilation systems (e.g. air conditioners), fireplaces, ovens and other outlets to the outside. Bring a Kit emergency (e.g. medicine and first aid, emergency water and food, money and credit card, a spare, flashlight and batteries). Provide assistance to neighbors, especially children, the elderly, the disabled. (3)

4) Nuclear emergencies, the national plan

The national plan for the management of radiological and nuclear emergencies was published on 27.1.2022. Better late than never, nine years after the entry into force of Directive 2013/59 / EURATOM on basic safety standards relating to protection against the dangers arising from exposure to ionizing radiation. (4)

The document considers the various reference scenarios that may involve Italy and / or other Member States and / or third countries, in various cases of nuclear accidents and emergencies. To expose the activities to be carried out for the protection (to put it mildly) of citizens, the environment and food production. And monitoring, until the end of the state of emergency.

5) Iodine

Iodine 131 is one of the radioactive substances that spread as a result of nuclear explosions. Excessive exposure can lead to the onset of thyroid cancer, especially in the age group 0-17, with progressively reduced risk up to the age of 40.

Take iodine - only in the event of a nuclear emergency (from 24 hours before, if you know it, up to two hours later) - can it protect the thyroid. Since its saturation with stable iodine reduces the exposure of the gland to the antagonist (radioactive) iodine. It is therefore useful to add dried seaweed, rich in iodine, to the food supply.

6) Food security, the nuclear risk

The rules Euratom 2016/52 has defined the maximum levels of radioactive contamination of food and feed following nuclear accidents. (5) Emergency measures, checks and notifications are foreseen Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF). But there is no solution to the disaster.

The nuclear accident at reactor 4 of the Chernobyl power plant, on 26.4.86, it is recalled, made food production impossible in a large area of ​​land. And radioactive cesium, which is expected to halve in 30 years, still persists at levels incompatible with human life. (6)

7) Provisional conclusions

The United Nations were created in 1945 'to save future generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought unspeakable pain to humanity'(A Charter, Preamble).

Sustainable Development Goals, adopted in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly, aspire to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that by 2030 all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

What is the point of all this?

Dario Dongo

Notes

(1) FEMA, Federal Emergency Management Agency. Nuclear Expolosion. 7.3.22, https://www.ready.gov/nuclear-explosion

(2) Food supplies, reminders, see https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/salute/covid-19-scorte-alimentari-e-dieta-mediterranea-l-abc. In this case, avoiding fresh foods

(3) CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), USES. Frequently Asked Questions About a Nuclear Blast. https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/radiation/emergencies/nuclearfaq.htm

(4) Civil Protection. Adoption of the national plan for the management of radiological and nuclear emergencies. 4.3.22, https://www.quotidianosanita.it/allegati/allegato6679260.pdf

(5) Euratom Regulation 2016/52, fixing the maximum permissible levels of radioactivity for food and animal feed following a nuclear accident or in any other case of radiological emergency. EUR-Lex, http://data.europa.eu/eli/reg/2016/52/oj

(6) Dario Dongo. Chernobyl, the European Commission eases restrictions on incoming food products. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 15.8.20, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/sicurezza/chernobyl-la-commissione-europea-allenta-le-restrizioni-sui-prodotti-alimentari-in-arrivo

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Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.

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