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Saturday, January 30, 2010
Can you see fallout?
For many years I labored
under the illusion that fallout was invisible. The reason I thought this is that I had mistakenly conceptualized ionizing
radiation as being the same thing as fallout.
8:36 pm est
While fallout is a potential source of ionizing radiation, the best
I can understand is that fallout is visible because ashes are generally visible and fallout is a form of ash. But because
these ashes spewed upward from a nuclear explosion, these ashes, which we refer to as fallout, are therefore radioactive.
And as they have substance and are visible, they can be swept. Fallout can, therefore, be swept away.
imagine a scenario where following a nuclear event you take shelter in a walled or underground level area where some fallout
has entered. Because time is of the essence and in this place you have more shielding from radioactivity than you would in
any other place around, you want to stay there. But there are these ashes. And you know that because these ashes are
from a nuclear explosion, they are also radioactive. So what do you do?
Well, you sweep them outside. You use
a broom as it provides some distance from the ashes as you sweep. You sweep, and you make sure the ashes are as
far outside as makes quick sense and then you build a barrier of some sort between you and them. You stack books to the
ceiling. Pull over a table and stand it on its end. Whatever. After that you move as far from the fallout as you
Meantime, your real purpose for being in this underground area is to remain protected by the dirt around
you from the fallout that has fallen all around your shelter at ground level. For this purpose, rooms in the center of cellars
are often particularly good places to hunker down. There you not only have the walls of the cellar and the room, you
also have the distance of the center room from the outside walls that also helps dissipate the effects of radiation from the
outside. Then you wait forty-eight to seventy-two hours or longer or until the officials announce on your battery-run
radio that you can leave. And you leave when the radiation levels outside have become safe for traveling (although probably
not yet safe for eating or drinking from uncanned supplies within fallout area).
Another time I'll talk about
the need for bottled water and canned goods to get you through. And some other possible protections against ionizing radiation.
But for now I just wanted to make it clear that fallout is visible to the extent that it is an ash and to end with a caveat
in relation to fallout and nuclear plant meltdowns.
Given the design of nuclear plants at this time, there is not
likely to be fallout following a nuclear meltdown. As it has been explained to me, the structure of the plants today, unlike
that of the plant at Chernoble, is such that a meltdown's nuclear fission would trip off a mechanical response that would
result in the plant collapsing into itself. Therefore, unlike with the Chernoble plant, there would be no explosive outward
bursting of it and the likelihood of a plume to carry fallout beyond the hypothesized ten or so mile radius would
be very small.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Acute Radiation Sickness in Too Close: a study in survival
As I research to write the sci-fi novel, Too
close: a study in survival, I am forced to review the effects of mild, moderate, and severe doses of ionizing
radiation such as might occur following a nuclear meltdown or dirty bomb.
10:51 am est
Some of the characters in
Too Close will develop Acute Radiation Sickness, ARS. It will have been caused by either a dirty bomb or
the meltdown. However, they will not present as having been exposed to any prolonged high level of exposure
to ionizing radiation such as occurred among Chernoble workers.
While such instances of chronic radiation sickness
do occur, they are rare. That said, books such as Black Rain by Ibuse Masuji follow the stories of persons
with chronic radiation sickness. Too Close: a study in survival will not.
In writing about ARS, the
acute forms of radiation sickness, I wish to clarify what might be the the difference among the levels of illness
it causes. I also would like to illustrate through the actions of my characters, some common sense, practical life-saving
responses that might be taken in event of abrupt exposure to ionizing radiation. But most of all, I hope to write a good story
with great characters that everyone will enjoy.
parallels the chronology of Jolt: a rural noir. Its setting, however, initiates closer to the plant at Magdum Heights
where the direct effects of the meltdown and dirty bombs are more in evidence. As Jolt involved a varied cast of characters
responding as individuals as well as part of a community, so also will Too Close.
Roberta M. Roy incorporated Alva Press www.alvapressinc.com on October 5, 2004. The express purpose of Alva Press, Inc., was to ensure a safe venue for
the publication of her works and those with similar focus. As such, upon the completion of the science
fiction novel Jolt: a rural noir, Alva would immediately publish it. Further Alva Press, Inc., would offer a
venue for Roy to publish her children's books, including Yell'n'Tell. (At this point Yell'n'Tell needs
only design as the watercolor illustrations by Dan Dyen are complete and the text fully edited. But then there is also Wedding
Ready, complete, but in need of an illustrator talented in the art of drawing forest animals. But all that anon.)
Currently, until the soft cover version of Jolt's Library of Congress Number
is in, Jolt waits to go to press. Usually the LCN takes but a few days after which will become available in hard cover
at $24.95 and Trade paper at $14.95 (plus $5.50 mailing).
was some five years in the writing; its research took longer. It's scientific basis for nuclear survival has been
carefully reviewed by oncologists and experts in the effects of ionizing radiation for accuracy of representation. Jolt
is a fast-paced novel that spans two years in the lives of a group of diverse urban, suburban, and rural residents brought
together in an imaginary part of the northern United States. There in Locklee, the small town to which those who are forced
emigrants flee, they become mutually caught up in the necessities associated with post-nuclear survival.
Check www.alvapressinc.com for a more thorough review of Jolt as well as the most recent updates on its publication
and availability. And should you be so inclined and care to help defray the last payment of its first printing, a check
in the mail to Alva Press for your very own pre-publication autographed copy of Jolt: a rural noir would be a
Thinking of self-publishing? Emergency response?
Send your questions, comments or ideas to RobertaMRoy@alvapressinc.com
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to publish on this web site, questions posed of particular interest to the community with your or our
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1) If you walk out uninjured from a nuclear event, you probably will survive.
bywords to survival from
a nuclear event are TDS: Time,
3) Use regular soap and water to decontaminate from fallout.Strip and shower or cleanse as best you can. Use bread.
4) Nuclear fallout contaminates open water and plants.If there is fallout (ashes),use bottled water and canned goods.
5) Babies as well as adults can take Potassium Iodide (KI) to protectthe thyroid against ionizing radiation.
6) There is no plume with a nuclear power plant meltdown.
7) A large event may seem ‘over there’ if you can’t define its impact.Ionizing radiation is invisible.
8) A family needs an escape plan.
9) A community can respond as a team to mass events.
10) After a mass event, a communitymay heal changed but well.
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