Tuesday, August 26, 2014

BBC documentary "Horizon: The Dirty Bomb" seems relevant again

The BBC made a film “Horizon: The Dirty Bomb”, written and produced by Kim Shillinghar, edited by Matthew Barrett, narrated by Bernard Hill. The film seems to have been made in 2004, but has been uploaded a couple of times to YouTube recently, as here.  The film runs 49 minutes. I have to admit that I felt provoked to watch the film because of recent media attention to ISIS. 

The documentary starts with an incident where Russian police found components of a possible dirty bomb in a Moscow city park in 1995.   It also covers the accident in Goiania, Brazil, in 1987, when scrap collectors released some cesium.  It gives an account of missing cesium chloride (in therapeutic needles) as discovered at Moses Cone Hospital in Greensboro, NC in March 1998 (at a time when I was recovering from my own hip fracture and surgery in Minneapolis!)  It also covers the strontium 90 found in Georgia (former Soviet Republic) which poisoned some soldiers.

The film covers the arrest of Jose Padilla in 2002, apparently for plotting a dirty bomb attack, and his designation as an "enemy combatant". 
The major part of the film simulates a dirty bomb attack on Trafalgar Square, London.   No one would be seriously injured at first.  But downwind, people would face an increase in cancer risk ranging from maybe 1 in 1000 to 1 in 7, depending on distance and amount of material.  Again, the most likely material as a powder would be cesium chloride.

The film also does a briefer fictitious simulation on the Washington DC Metro, showing the Red Line.  It predicts that it would be 24 hours before authorities know anything is wrong.  Passengers would face only very slightly increased risk of cancer sometime in their lives, but police and Metro employees could face significantly larger risk. Recall, in 1999 ABC Nightline had broadcast a simulated anthrax attack on the San Francisco BART.  Many of the scenarios had been imagined before 9/11.   
This film seems to resemble a 2004 film “Dirty War” directed by Daniel Percival, produced jointly by HBO and the BBC.  But that film (reviewed on my “doaskdotell” site) runs 90 minutes and is an acted docudrama.  The contaminant in that film is Strontium 90.  Paul Anthony-Barber and Louise Delamere star.  Authorities don’t have much intelligence to stop an attack outside Liverpool Station.  Many lives are ruined financially, as pensions and savings are wiped out.   

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

"Lights Out: Danger to the U.S. Power Grid" with Judge Jeanine on Fox; Need for the Shield Act

Judge Jeanine: “Lights Out: Danger to the US Power Grid”, talks about the danger of an EMP attack in a 38 minute video put up by “SecureFreedom”, with link here.  The video was produced by the Fox News Channel.

Jeanine gives her lecture coming out of a meeting in New York City.

The major risks she discusses are (1) EMP from a small nuclear weapon at high altitude, which she says North Korea could launch (two missiles were supposedly found in Panama at “Sugar Bay”, she says; I hadn’t heard of this) (2) assaults on local stations (such as one near San Jose CA in April 2013, and another in Tennessee); (3) coronal mass ejections from a solar flare (although this video was made before the revelation of the near miss in 2012 with a Carrington-sized solar storm).

Chrisopher Mar Heben, a former Navy Seal, joins her. He says a local conventional EMP attack can take down an entire power station.

James Woosley, former CIA, talks about the possibility of an EMP from a weapon launched from the southern hemisphere.  At 30 miles elevation, it would take out the grid for 25% of the US; at 200 miles, the entire country.  Wossley called the federal government “ostriches” on this issue (a favorite slang when I was in the Army myself). Woosley says a small nuclear weapon could be detonated from a weather balloon; a terrorist doesn’t need a missile.

Spencer Abraham talked about the 2003 blackout. Jeanine said “we’re not talking out of school.”. 
Journalist Rebecca Smith in San Francisco talked about the failure to report the San Jose attack.  We may have been afraid of a copycat attack, but the cat is out of the bag. The attack was well planned, and started by cutting fiber-optic cables underground.  Transformers were damaged but not destroyed, and we can’t replace large transformers quickly because we have to import them.

Andrea Boland (D-ME) said it would cost relatively little to harden the grid in Maine.

Andy Harris (R-MD) discussed the Shield Act HR 2417 (to protect against EMP) (govtrack link here).  The Grid Act or Shield Act died in the Senate because they couldn’t agree on the cybersecurity part.  (Boland and Harris have an hour-long video on the act, here.).
Frank Gaffney, Center for Power Security, described a study called “Guild Knowledge”, led by William Graham. After one year of no power in the US, 90% of the population would be dead. Gaffney showed the North Korean missiles on a boat found in Panama.  Gaffney said that there is a way to harden large transformers considerably.
Aton Edwards, an “Urban Prepper” discussed urban survival.