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If Terrorists Attack Nuclear Power Plants:
10 Ways to Survive A Nuclear Meltdown

10 Ways to Survive A Nuclear Meltdown
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Chernobyl, in Ukraine, is uninhabitable today from a nuclear disaster at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant; several people wound up dead and hundreds of thousands were evacuated.
Even with the evacuation, radioactive fallout is blamed for a number of cancers and most likely the early deaths that followed in the wake of these cancers. Wikipedia records, "The battle to contain the contamination and avert a greater catastrophe ultimately involved over 500,000 workers and cost an estimated 18 billion rubles."

A fire from an explosion released a tremendous amount of radioactive particles into the sky, spreading across much of the Western USSR and even Europe.

We who live in the West and who get a lot of our power generated by nuclear power plants that dot our countries have great cause to be concerned when terrorist groups are suspected of surveillance of nuclear power plants. The world knows what happened at Chernobyl -- and that includes the governments funding terrorism (such as Iran) and the leadership of terrorist groups.

Like the threat of an EMP or Hacker Attack on our nation's power grid, a nuclear meltdown caused by terrorists is another "likelihood" at some point. Why is it likely? Because Radical Islam is growing and it's reach is penetrating western nations; they have people here; smart people sometimes; educated people with money and growing means to attack.

Seriously, if a couple Joe Shmoes can load a moving truck with manure and blow up the Oklahoma State federal building, it just goes to show that anyone with a desire to harm a Western nation and the patience to think it through can also come up with the means to cause one or more meltdowns at several nuclear power plants.

Don't Forget Chernobyl

Knowing what happened at Chernobyl, as well as Fukushima in 2011, does it still make sense to prepare for a nuclear meltdown, even with all the technological advancements in nuclear power? The odds of a meltdown taking place are indeed small but, when you start to dig deeper, you realize there are quite a few things that can cause a meltdown besides just terrorists.

An electromagnetic pulse could shut down the power supply, making it impossible for the fuel rods inside the reactor to cool off...

A hacker could break into the system and cut off the water supply, the electricity or, who knows, maybe even the backup generator...

A tsunami could trigger everything (which happened at Fukushima)...

...or some other machine or human error can cause the ordeal.

We recently discussed hacker threats and how the hacker group Milworm broke into a nuclear research facility in India. Who's to say they won't try again, only this time with a power plant near you?

Nuclear Meltdowns Happen Quickly

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Are You Prepared for a Worst Case Scenario?
Are You Prepared for a Worst Case Scenario?

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Nuclear meltdowns happen quickly, are devastating and, whether they're accompanied by a blast or not, they can quickly send radioactive particles into the atmosphere, contaminating people, lakes, rivers, streams and plant life within the area and downwind of the plant. We list several major cities below with nuclear power plants within 100 miles or closer.

First, the Bad News About a Nuclear Meltdown

Worst of all, no one can say for sure that doing this or that will guarantee your survival. Still, there are things to be done and we're going to tackle them in this article.

There Are Currently 104 Nuclear Reactors Across the United States

Read that again: 104. That's the number of nuclear reactors in the U.S. and, although none of them are in the top 10 list of the biggest nuclear power plants in the world (437 nuclear power plants worldwide), 6 million Americans live within a 10 mile radius from one. Now, any serious prepper will move away from the area but we still have to analyze the threat and the associated risks.

How and Why Could a Nuclear Accident Occur?

Nuclear power plants are there to give us electricity using a very interesting process called nuclear fission, which generates huge amounts of energy. This process of fission, by the way, was also used to create nuclear bombs, such as the "Little Boy" bomb dropped over Hiroshima in 1945. surviving a nuclear attack has already been discussed in depth on so let's come back to see how these power plants work so that we can lay out a game plan for survival.

How Nuclear Power Plants Work

The nuclear energy released heats up fuel rods inside the reactor (made of enriched uranium), which needs water to cool off. When that happens, water turns into steam and helps cool the reactor down. If it fails, that's when a meltdown occurs and, as such, harmful particles are released into the air, affecting everyone within a radius of tens of miles. This is similar to how fossil fuel power plants work, by the way.

If the water starts to boil at a higher than normal rate it will soon run out and the fuel rods will start melting, hence the term nuclear meltdown. When the reactor is functioning, the center of the rods can reach 1800F (or 1000C), so they need a large and steady supply of water to cool off. In fact, they still require water to do this even after the reactor has been shut down.

Translation: even if you hear some of the reactors are off, they might still be in a cooling process and pose a hazard to life.

The water flow is maintained using electricity so, in case of a power failure, the entire supply of power can be abruptly cut off. Now, when the rods melt, the resulting substances are released into the atmosphere. If there's a strong wind, they will travel and spread even faster.

Hint: If you want to predict a day and time for a terrorist attack on a nuclear reactor, consider the fact that terrorists will likely choose a day with high winds -- and at a time when those winds are blowing in the direction of a major city -- maybe that's your city.

In fact, as a smart step to keep our nuclear reactors safe, it would be smart for the feds to keep their eyes on the weather; if high winds are predicted, that would be a good time to post more guards and restrict outside activity to a further distance from nuclear power plants.

Still, those nuclear power plants are easy targets for those who think it out and then have the guts to follow through.

Fukushima and Other Known Disasters...

Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it so let's look at The Fukushima Daiichi power plant accident in Japan on March 11th 2011, which was the biggest one in recent history. It was caused by a tsunami which, in turn was caused by an underwater earthquake, and this shows really well the domino-effect of disasters and how you can't just "prep for one thing."

The funny thing about Fukushima is that nobody died as a result of radiation, not in the beginning at least. There were 610 deaths of workers who tried to decontaminate the area but -- brace yourself -- 18,500 people died because of the tsunami.

Of course, there were other nuclear disasters in recent history, showing us that anything's possible...

The worst one took place, as mentioned, in Chernobyl, Ukraine, and is the only other "level 7" event on the INES scale besides Fukushima. 31 people died the day it happened but the effects on the environment and on nearby inhabitants are still felt today, and that includes an official Chernobyl Exclusion Zone possibly never to be inhabited by people again.

Three Mile Island: The Biggest Nuclear Disaster on U.S. Soil

The biggest one that's ever happened on US soil was the Three Mile Island Accident in 1979 in Pennsylvania. Though there were no significant cancer risks among patients, the thing to note it that it took 15 years to fully clean up the site (until 1993). The total cost was 1 billion dollars.

What's the Worst Case Scenario?

Very good question. At Chernobyl, for instance, they used a graphite moderator, which increased the radiation emissions. They also didn't have a container built around the reactor to contain the problem if something happened, hence the disaster which caused numerous anomalies in humans as well as animals and plants and made the area uninhabitable for the next 200 to 350 years.

The risk of explosion and of extremely high radiations is a lot smaller nowadays as proven in the Fukushima disaster where there wasn't one and, as a result, no one died in the initial disaster. Still, the biggest threat that could actually lead to an explosion would occur if the molten core would fall into a pool of water but the odds of that aren't particularly high.

Experts said shortly after the Fukushima disaster that, as long as they can keep the rods in contact with water, there's a very low chance that any rods would melt. (Now, if the rods melts, it could cause an explosion that would release radioactive material into the atmosphere -- an immediate and long term danger to human life.)

How Can You Prepare for a Nuclear Meltdown?

Some people argue that there is no bulletproof way of protecting from such a disaster but, then again, if we were to think like that, we wouldn't prep for anything. It's all about increasing your chances of survival.

The first and most obvious thing to do is to stay away from nuclear power plants. There is no right number of miles to put between you and the hazard but, keeping in mind nuclear reactors in the US aren't that big, being at least 100 miles from any of them should be more than enough. (The Nuclear Regulatory Commission suggests 50 miles, by the way.) Even if there's a strong wind blowing in your direction, this shouldn't pose much of a risk if you're further out than that.

How close do you live to a nuclear power plant? Smithsonian Magazine has a free tool that shows a map of the U.S. and regional nuclear power plants near you. Just enter your city or address and the free tool will show you where the nearest nuclear power plants are located.

10 Ways to Survive A Nuclear Meltdown

1. Supplies to shelter in place

Food and water supplies. The next thing you should do is have a food and water stockpile. The ones you'd normally stockpile for other SHTF events. (We've detailed in several articles ways to stockpile quality survival food and it's too much information to go into in this article; refer to other articles on; follow links at the end of this article for specific recommendations and ways to save money on your survival stocks).

Water sources can get contaminated so have a stockpile to last you for at least 90 days and even up to 6 months or more if you have to shelter in place for any long term period. (You don't really know if you have time to bug out so hunkering down with a sufficient amount of supplies until radiation levels drop will make it safer for you to then bug out -- after contamination levels start to drop outside -- if staying home and sheltering in place is no longer an option).

2. Extra batteries for communications

Communications. Preferably two way communications so rescue teams in the early days and hours following a disaster know where you are if you get trapped. Cell phones, portable cell phone chargers (not solar chargers because you can't go outside during a nuclear event -- unless you have wiring leading into your home from outside solar panels), and extra batteries as backup to keep your cell phones working after a loss of power are recommended. Also consider two way radios as rescue teams may reach out to trapped citizens on their two ways.

Following a loss of power, it's a natural desire (and recommended) to stay in touch with the latest news so even a small AM/FM hand-crank or battery-powered radio is going to make a world of difference. We have discussed these radios in depth on our survival gear essentials page (as well as other essential survival items, many of which are overlooked by the average family preparing their home for a disaster -- you don't want to overlook these).

3. Should you evacuate?

If you hear the news soon enough and you have time to evacuate, you're going to want to put as much distance between you and the point of the explosion as possible.

4. Evacuate with a light weight 4 wheel drive vehicle

Why should you invest in a four wheel drive vehicle? There's a great chance that you may have to go off road, including gravel roads as well as freeway shoulders, if you want any hope to get out of an area that's bogged down during a major evacuation and all traffic is stopped. If roads or bridges are out on major highways you need to have something other than a car to get out of the area with.

A well-equipped bug out vehicle that is capable of four wheel drive is recommended -- and the lighter your four wheel drive with higher ground clearance, the better. A heavy duty SUV may get you stuck faster (because of it's weight) and sink further into soft soil than a lighter 4 wheel drive truck. Keep that in mind.

5. Your Vehicle Can Be A Bug Out Shelter

A vehicle equipped with essential survival supplies can act as a bug out shelter until you figure out what to do next. It's not hard to do it, all you need is a list of all the possible gear for reference and you can take it from there. The biggest problem with vehicles is that the trunk can get hot so you may need to rotate your food, water and any meds more often.

6. Protect Meds and Nutritional Supplements from Warm Temperatures -- Using Cold Lakes and Rivers

A cool trick you can use is to put your meds and "superfood" nutritional supplements inside a wide-mouth Thermos as it will keep the temperature a few degrees lower under hot conditions and help keep your meds and supplements from spoiling. It's not ideal but it's better than nothing in the short term. Also, if you can "car camp" near a body of cold water, you can store perishable food and meds in a waterproof container, and then keep that container under the water, near the water's edge, anchored to the shore. Many bodies of water, especially rivers and mountain lakes, have cold water year round -- creating a natural place to "refrigerate" perishable supplies. (That is another reason why waterproof dry sacks are essential survival tools, whether you're backpacking through an area, or bugging out with your vehicle and need to keep those meds and nutritional supplements from spoiling.)

7. Consider Potassium Iodine to Prevent Thyroid Cancer

Last but not least, consider stocking up on potassium iodine. Taking it when you've been exposed to radiation will lower the radiation risk. However, things are not that simple. There's a recommended dosage you should take of 130 mg per day for an adult (disclaimer, here, I'm not a doctor so you should definitely consult one and ask him or her about it). Once you take the dosage, your thyroid gland will absorb it. The one coming from external sources such as air will be eliminated through urine.

Caveat. Don't get me wrong, iodine is not the "bad guy" here. We ingest iodine every day from sources such as strawberries, cheese and navy beans.

8. Should You Shelter in Place?

In the event of bugging in (sheltering in place), radioactive material from the contaminated air will settle on everything... your house, your clothes, your skin, your stockpile... Ideally, you should evacuate as soon as possible but that may not be the best idea. You should bug in if...

You're far enough from the disaster (at least 50 to 100 miles) and there's no news of an explosion.

You have a solid underground shelter such as a bunker or even a properly sealed basement.

You have enough supplies for one or even 2 weeks (several weeks is best).

Even if you think you're safe, yet fairly close to the meltdown or blast, you should still evacuate if you have a place to bug out to. Better safe than sorry. Don't count on the authorities to tell you everything -- what if their communication systems fail? Remember, radio stations can only report recommendations based on what they are being told by authorities.

Ideally, you should evacuate. If everyone's trying to evacuate though you're a lot less exposed if you hide in your basement than stuck in your car outside in traffic hell that's not going anywhere.

Ideally, you should have a radiation-proof protective suit in your vehicle (which are available at a high price tag) that you can put on over your clothing, to help reduce radioactive exposure to the outside air, as well as a radioactive mask that is approved for a radiation emergency.

9. You've Been Contaminated. Now What?

If you've been contaminated, you need to act fast. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there are a few things you should do. First, get to a safe location. Remove the clothes you're wearing and put them in a plastic bag to avoid spreading the radiation particles and bury that bag a safe distance away from people or homes, so that no one is likely to come in contact with it. Next, you'll need to take a long shower and wash thoroughly using lots of soap.

In the meantime, try to stay away from others that are not contaminated and ask them to alert authorities so they can check for both external and internal contamination and help you decontaminate properly.

10. Get right with God -- You are your own chaplain.

In years past chaplains provided pastoral care and prayer to our military men and women though more and more they are being persecuted in their roles as the atheist movement launches attack after attack in an attempt to push them from the military all together. The good news about God? You don't need a chaplain to get right with the Lord! Just sincere heart to heart prayer and a decision to trust Jesus as Lord of your life. Why is this listed as a way to survive a nuclear meltdown? Because, like it or not, you may have just been contaminated with enough radiation to kill you -- no matter how many protective steps you have tried to take -- and now you're only days or even just hours away from dying. Sadly, it's only when some of us look death in the face do we finally realize that God loves us and wants us to know Him personally -- and that he can also save us! It takes repentance and a true surrender of our wills to know and follow his will for us.

What Are the Top 15 Cities Closest to Nuclear Power Plants?

How far away do you live from a nuclear power plant?

Nuclear energy is big business. It's an asset to keeping American cities powered and online and supplies several large cities with power; all of these cities are at risk in the event of a nuclear disaster at one of these plants.

If there's a nuclear plant near your community, you may know about it already but what you may not know is the exact distance between you and the threat. Now, I can't make a list here of every city and town in America one by one so I'm going to stick to the top large cities closest to nuclear power plants. They are:

Pittsburg, 12 miles away from the Beaver Valley Power Station

Charlotte, 17 miles away from the McGuire Nuclear Plant and 50 miles away from the Catawba Nuclear Station

New York City, 25 miles away from the Indian Point Energy Sector

Philadelphia, 28 miles away from the Limerick Generating Station

Columbia NC, 20 miles away from Virgil C. Summer Nuclear Generating Station

Miami, 25 miles away from Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station

New Orleans, 33 miles away from the Waterford Nuclear Generating Station

Cleveland, 34 miles away from the Perry Nuclear Power Plant and 71 miles from the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station

Minneapolis, 38 miles away from the Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant and 39 miles away from the Prairie Island Plant

Phoenix AZ, 45 miles away from the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station

San Diego, 45 miles away from the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station

Dallas, 60 miles away from Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant

Los Angeles, 60 miles away from the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station

Houston, 90 miles away from the South Texas Nuclear Generating Station

Kansas City, 90 miles away from the Wolf Creek Power Plant

Final Word

Though authorities assure us a nuclear meltdown isn't the threat it once was, radiation isn't something to be taken lightly. If you're within 100 miles from a power plant, you should definitely prepare for it. Remember, terrorists know all about these nuclear power plants. Surveillance of nuclear power plants in recent years is reported to have taken place. Nuclear power plants are high value targets. That is why you, I and others should not take the threat of a terrorist attack or hacker attack or EMP lightly. Any of these can have an immediate and drastic catastrophe on area nuclear power leading to a release of radiation into the atmosphere.

If you're not prepared, you should still consider it because you never know when you're traveling or visiting someone in a location who's closer to a nuclear power plant than you realize.

The Dupont corporation makes several radioactive proof suits and does RST corporation under the name Radshield; following the disaster and evacuation of Fukushima, there should be a greater demand from the public for access to these suits at a price the average consumer can afford. Hazmat suits are regularly used by personnel in the oil and gas industries, as well as the pharmaceutical industry; many of these suits are priced low, though they will not offer much protection from a true radiation emergency. A better suggestion for our corporations who want to make a buck: Create a suit that the average person can afford and bring the price down for all of us. A lot more of these suits will sell and a lot more people will be protected in the event of a nuclear disaster.

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