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Author Topic: Are Hams prepared for a nuclear accident?  (Read 29672 times)
KG4HLZ
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Posts: 21




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« on: March 16, 2011, 08:23:19 PM »

With the Japan nuclear accident, I think that the importance of preparedness for a nuclear accident is made clear. Whatever the probability that it can happen again is, we know that it can happen.   
I am by no means an expert but I do have past nuclear experience and training. I can see a lot of special considerations and knowledge would be needed for a nuclear accident response. I can also see some technical options. For example sensors (counters) that can interface with APRS. Are we prepared for this type of incident?

Bruce
KG4HLZ

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K7RBW
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Posts: 398




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« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2011, 09:47:10 PM »

Prepared to do what, exactly?

Prepared to survive?
Prepared to do mobile radiation level monitoring?
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K9KJM
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Posts: 2415




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« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2011, 10:53:44 PM »

With the continued less importance of ham radio for disaster communications, I feel that radiation measurement and reporting could be a real worthwhile job for hams.
It really ticks me off that a few short years ago some of the old C.D. (Civil Defense) radiation detectors were going into the dumpsters at the state level.   
When asked if we could use them for radiation detection, They replied, NO, they are no longer "calibrated properly"
Well, BIG DEAL so they are not.  We do not need fancy calibrated instruments for what I feel hams could do for remote monitoring.  IF a ham were to get any type of high reading, It would be reported to the "official" persons who do the monitoring, Not to the general public. So the folks that do have the calibrated instruments can also measure and report.

If anyone here thinks that the monitoring is now being done on a good local basis in all areas, Especially out in the boondocks, I have a nice bridge to sell them......
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NN4RH
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Posts: 328




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« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2011, 02:18:33 AM »

Prepared to do what, exactly?


To Save The World, of course. Be HT heroes. Take over vital communications from incompetent government agencies.  You been living under a rock? How could you not know that When All Else Fails. Amateur Radio Saves The World!

Don't you realize that this is exactly what hams should be doing. Connecting 60 year old, surplus, uncalibrated Geiger counters to their 20 year old APRS technology and an HT, and go driving around nuclear reactors.




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NN4RH
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Posts: 328




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« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2011, 02:24:13 AM »


When asked if we could use them for radiation detection, They replied, NO, they are no longer "calibrated properly"
Well, BIG DEAL so they are not.  We do not need fancy calibrated instruments for what I feel hams could do for remote monitoring.  IF a ham were to get any type of high reading, It would be reported to the "official" persons who do the monitoring, Not to the general public. So the folks that do have the calibrated instruments can also measure and report.

And what if they get a low reading or no reading?  What if it's really a hot area but your junk Geiger counter is reading low?  Do you expect the authorities to trust your report that the area is safe ?

How do you know your 60 year old CD Geiger Counter would read anything at all? DO you have a radiation source at home that you can check it against? Or do you expect to be able to walk into a nuke plant in the middle of a crisis and have them drop what they're doing to check it out for you?

We're amateur RADIO operators. Not amateur Nuclear Technicians.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2011, 02:26:06 AM by NN4RH » Logged
LA9XSA
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Posts: 376




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« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2011, 06:44:43 AM »

Radiation meters need regular calibration. As NN4RH points out, a reading from a bunk meter is probably worse than useless.

If there's only a nuclear emergency - radiation leak or fallout - I don't think amateur radio would enter into it in a big way. If, however, there's a communication emergency and a nuclear emergency at the same time, let's say phone lines and internet knocked out by a disaster which also causes fallout, then it might be a good idea to use amateur radio to report radiation reports from monitoring teams using properly calibrated meters. Teams of people trained in radiation monitors with a ham on each team to report back the results to authorities - identifying when areas are safe to return to, so power and communications can be restored as well.

Note that if the internet and phones are down, APRS packets would need alternative routes out of the area, so fill-in digipeaters and re-routing of packets would need to be planned for as well.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2011, 06:48:15 AM by LA9XSA » Logged
VE4EGL
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Posts: 23




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« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2011, 07:06:03 AM »

I can see a lot of special considerations and knowledge would be needed for a nuclear accident response.

There's the rub.  The chance of a nuclear accident is slim and anyone who is trained to handle a nuclear accident has to keep their training current, they tend to make their living off nuclear power.  There's very specialized equipment involved in those situations and it needs to be calibrated and tested regularly.  Unfortunately, the best place to do that calibration is probably not somewhere you can just walk in off the street.  If you're in an area where radiation testing is necessary you're probably going to be one of the evacuees.

Radiation isn't like a tornado or a flood, you can't easily see its effects or protect yourself from it.  When the radioactive crap hits the fan the focus is on keeping as many people as possible out of harm's way, and that includes the folks with the radios.  I believe we would be able to provide help in some form but it would not be from the front lines.
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I used to think you needed an elaborate setup to work DX, then I made a QSO 3,000 miles away using a dipole 8ft off the ground in the middle of a forest.
VE6FGN
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Posts: 18




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« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2011, 07:49:28 AM »

I believe that if we are to help out in any emergency, there are some trueism's we must kep in mind:

We don't make decisions, get involved, offer advice, get in the way, or hinder operations.

We do arrive self contained, operate within the comms plan, and pass message traffic in a timely and accurate manner.

If the Operators were able to bypass us and communicate on their own, they would do so.

Get satisfaction out of doing what is expected and otherwise being invisible.



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KA6MLE
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Posts: 80




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« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2011, 09:44:22 AM »

We are somewhat prepared in our county. Our ARES members have practiced with the county and FEMA (in evaluated drills) in limited capacity. We manned the main county EOC, Joint Information Center, County Health Department, Evacuation (decontamination facilities), various Emergency Communication Centers around the county. We were in direct contact with the county Emergency Coordinator (in fact we setup in his office). Our county is very welcoming and accommodating of ARES. At the congregant care center (decontamination) they had us at all of the stations and as rovers to assist where ever needed as additional communication.

I am sure in a real situation (big earthquake, etc) nothing will go as planned, but we have a plan at least.

Here is a detector for those interested :^)
http://cgi.ebay.com/Radiation-Fallout-Detector-Victoreen-Survey-CDV-715-/230597775417?pt=BI_Security_Fire_Protection&hash=item35b0b2d039
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AF6WI
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Posts: 105


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« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2011, 10:14:44 AM »

I believe that if we are to help out in any emergency, there are some trueism's we must kep in mind:

We don't make decisions, get involved, offer advice, get in the way, or hinder operations.

We do arrive self contained, operate within the comms plan, and pass message traffic in a timely and accurate manner.

If the Operators were able to bypass us and communicate on their own, they would do so.

Get satisfaction out of doing what is expected and otherwise being invisible.

Is there a way to upvote this post? :->
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K5LXP
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« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2011, 11:07:14 AM »

Sadly, the ARRL spotlighted this very activity in the Nov. 2010 QST.  I recall they were "certified" to do so in some way (don't have the article in front of me) but basically it's a group of hams with geiger counters using ham radio to report observations.  I think it's bad enough when hams become part of a formal emergency plan but part of a *nuclear* emergency plan?  Seriously?


Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM
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KC8IUR
Member

Posts: 156




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« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2011, 12:06:12 PM »

Prepared to do what, exactly?


To Save The World, of course. Be HT heroes. Take over vital communications from incompetent government agencies.  You been living under a rock? How could you not know that When All Else Fails. Amateur Radio Saves The World!

Don't you realize that this is exactly what hams should be doing. Connecting 60 year old, surplus, uncalibrated Geiger counters to their 20 year old APRS technology and an HT, and go driving around nuclear reactors.


"HT Hero" gave me a good chuckle.
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W3JKS
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Posts: 200


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« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2011, 12:13:14 PM »

Back in the day, when we had a somewhat functional Radiological Defense plan in this country (before James Lee half-Witt took over FEMA), a LOT of the Radiological Monitors and Defense Officers were also radio amateurs.

There probably aren't too many of us left.  I can tell you that I still have a full suite of calibrated, functional instruments in my posession.  Everything from an AN/PDR-60 (alpha survey) to an AN/VDR-2 (beta/gamma).

I live and work in relatively close proximity to several reactors...

73,
john W3JKS/AAT3BF/AAM3EDE/AAM3RE/AAA9SL
“Old RADEF Officers never die, they simply decay exponentially…”
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KD4LLA
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Posts: 462




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« Reply #13 on: March 18, 2011, 02:52:14 PM »

Here in Minnesota we can barely function in a blizzard.  I am concerned that I will be able to get to the adult beverage store before they run out, than a nuclear accident of some type.  The US Army taught me to look away from the bright light, fall away from the blast to the ground, and cover up with whatever is available.  I am about as prepared as I am going to get.

There is now a concern about a power plant within 50 miles of New York City, that also supplies 30% of the electricity for NYC.  Where are you going to evacuate those millions of people to?  How you going to move them?  Once again I am glad to live "in the sticks"!

Mike
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LA9XSA
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Posts: 376




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« Reply #14 on: March 18, 2011, 09:42:44 PM »

Thanks W3JKS and KA6MLE for reminding me that even though amateur radio might not directly be needed in all cases, radio amateurs who are interested in technical things and serving their community can be trained as radiation monitoring personnel.
The US Army taught me to look away from the bright light, fall away from the blast to the ground, and cover up with whatever is available.
That's a nuclear weapon. What we're mainly talking about in this thread is fallout not just from nuclear weapons, but from non-criticality events such as "dirty bombs" or radiation leaks from a nuclear power plant. In some cases, the area needs evacuation - in others it's enough to stay indoors a couple of days. It depends on the isotopes which fall down outside.

Frankly, the main health effects from the nuclear situation in Japan right now is lack of electricity, and mental health effects from the fear of radiation - which is understandable. Under direct radiation threat at the moment are only the people on the power plant.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2011, 09:47:35 PM by LA9XSA » Logged
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