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The Effects of Nuclear War

May 1979
NTIS order #PB-296946
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 79-600080

For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office

Washington, D C, 20402

This assessment was made in response to a request from the Senate
Committee on Foreign Relations to examine the effects of nuclear war on the
populations and economies of the United States and the Soviet Union. It is
intended, in the terms of the Committees request, to put what have been
abstract measures of strategic power into more comprehensible terms.
The study examines the full range of effects that nuclear war would
have on civilians: direct effects from blast and radiation; and indirect effects
f r o m e c o n o m i c , social, and politicai disruption. Particular attention is
devoted to the ways in which the impact of a nuclear war would extend over
time. Two of the studys principal findings are that conditions would con-
tinue to get worse for some time after a nuclear war ended, and that the ef-
fects of nuclear war that cannot be calculated in advance are at least as im-
portant as those which analysts attempt to quantify.
This report provides essential background for a range of issues relating
to strategic weapons and foreign policy. It translates what is generally known
about the effects of nuclear weapons into the best available estimates about
the impact on society if such weapons were used. It calls attention to the
very wide range of impacts that nuclear weapons would have on a complex
industrial society, and to the extent of uncertainty regarding these impacts.

Several years ago, OTA convened a panel of distinguished scientists to

examine the effects of a limited nuclear war. The report and testimony of
that panel, which were published by the Senate Foreign Relations Commit-
tee, remain valid. That panel recommended that a more thorough and com-
prehensive study of the effects of nuclear war be undertaken. This study is
such an effort.

The Director of this assessment was Dr. Peter Sharfman, Group Manager
for National Security Studies. OTA is grateful for the assistance of its
Nuclear War Effects Advisory Panel, chaired by Dr. David S. Saxon, President
of the University of California, and for the assistance of the Congressional
Research Service, the Department of Defense, the Arms Control and Disar-
mament Agency, and the Central Intel Intelligence Agency. 1 t shouId be under-
stood, however, that OTA assumes full responsibility for this report and that
it does not necessarily represent the views of any of these agencies or of the
individual members of the Advisory Panel.

Acting Director
Nuclear War Effects Project Staff

Lionel S. Johns, Assistant Director

Energy, Materials, and Global Security Division
Peter Sharfman, National Security Group Manager and Project Director
Jonathan Medalia (on detail from Congressional/ Research Service)
Robert W. Vining (under contract with Systems Science and Software)
Kevin Lewis
Gloria Proctor

Supplemental OTA Staff

Henry Kelly Marvin Ott

Advanced Research and Applications Corporation
Analytical Assessments Corporation
General Research Corporation
Santa Fe Corporation
Systems Science and Software

Stuart Goldman
Nan Randall
George R. Rodericks
Ronald Stivers

OTA Publishing Staff

John C. Holmes, Publishing Officer

Kathie S. Boss Joanne Heming


Nuclear War Effects Project Advisory Panel

David S. Saxon, Chairman

President, University of California

Donald G. Brennan J. Carson Mark

Director of National Securit y Studies Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory
Hudson Institute Inc.
James V. Neel
Charles Cooper Chairman, Department of Human
Department of Biology Genetics
San Diego State University University of Michigan Medical School
University of Michigan
Russell E. Dougherty
General, USAF(retired)
Jack Ruina
Sidney Drell Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Deputy Director, Stanford linear
Accelerator Center Harriet Scott
Stanford University McLean, Va.

Richard Garwin Huston Smith

IBM Fellow
Syracuse University
IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center

Gene R. La Rocque John Steinbruner

Rear Admiral, USN [retired) Director of Foreign Policy Studies
Director, Center for Defense /formation Brookings Institution

Cecil Leith Jeremy Stone

Director, Atmospheric Analysis
Director, Federation of American
and Prediction Division
National Center for Atmospheric
Hilary Whitaker
J, David Linebaugh Director, Emergency Preparedness Project
Washington, D.C. National Governors Association

The Advisory Panel provided advice and constructive criticism throughout this project. The panel
does not, however, necessarily approve, disapprove, or endorse this report. OTA assumes full respon-
sibility y for the report and the accuracy of its contents.

Chapter Page
1. Executive Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Il. A Nuclear Weapon Over Detroit or Leningrad: A Tutorial on
the Effects of Nuclear Weapons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
Ill. Civil Defense . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49
IV. Three Attack Cases . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63
V. Other Long-Term Effects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 109
A. Letter From Senate Foreign Relations Committee Requesting the Study... 119
B. Strategic Forces Assumed . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 122
C. Charlottesville: A Fictional Account by Nan Randall . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 124
D. Summary of Contractor Report on Executive Branch Studies . . . . . . . . . . . 139
E. Suggestions for Further Reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 146
F, Glossary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 149

Volume llWorking Papers:

1. Examination of the Direct Effects of Nuciear War (CRC Carp).*
2. Small Attacks on U.S. and Soviet Energy Production and Distribution Systems
(Santa Fe Corp).
3. Long-Term Health Effects From Nuclear Attack Radiation Exposures (Aracor)
4. The Effects of Nuclear War Economic Damage (Analytical Assessment Corp.)*

NOTE: A Iimited number of copies of the working papers will be available for congressiorral use
from OTA by the end of June 1979 Others can obtain the working papers from the National Technical
Information Service about the beginning of August 1979

* Indicat es that a classified version is also available to qualified requesters



Findings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Approach . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Uncertainties. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . , . . . . . 10


l. Summary of Cases. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
2. Summary of Effects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Chapter I

At the request of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, the Office of Tech-
nology Assessment has undertaken to describe the effects of a nuclear war on the ci-
vilian populations, economies, and societies of the United States and the Soviet
Nuclear war is not a comfortable subject. Throughout all the variations, possibil-
ities, and uncertainties that this study describes, one theme is constanta nuclear
war would be a catastrophe. A militarily plausible nuclear attack, even limited,
could be expected to kill people and to inflict economic damage on a scale unprece-
tiented in American experience; a large-scale nuclear exchange would be a calamity
unprecedented in human history. The mind recoils from the effort to foresee the
details of such a calamity, and from the careful explanation of the unavoidable uncer-
tainties as to whether people would die from blast damage, from fallout radiation, or
from starvation during the following winter. But the fact remains that nuclear war is
possible, and the possibility of nuclear war has formed part of the foundation of inter-
national politics, and of U.S. policy, ever since nuclear weapons were used in 1945.
The premise of this study is that those who deal with the large issues of world
politics should understand what is known, and perhaps more importantly what is not
known, about the likely consequences if efforts to deter and avoid nuclear war should
fail. Those who deal with policy issues regarding nuclear weapons should know what
such weapons can do, and the extent of the uncertainties about what such weapons
might do.


1 The effects of a nuclear war that cannot be that make it much more difficult to predict
calculated are at least as important as those for than blast damage. While it is proper for a mili-
which calculations are attempted. Moreover, tary plan to provide for the destruction of key
even these Iimited calculations are subject to targets by the surest means even in unfavor-
very large uncertainties able circumstances, the nonmiIitary observer
should remember that actual damage is likely
Conservative military planners tend to base
to be greater than that reflected in the military
their calculations on factors that can be either
calculations. This is particularly true for in-
control led or predicted, and to make pessimis-
direct effects such as deaths resulting from in-
tic assumptions where control or prediction
juries and the unavailability of medical care,
are impossible. For example, planning for stra-
or for economic damage resuIting from disrup-
tegic nuclear warfare looks at the extent to
tion and disorganization rather than from
which civilian targets will be destroyed by
direct destruction.
blast, and discounts the additional damage
which may be caused by fires that the blast For more than a decade, the declared policy
could ignite. This is not because fires are of the United States has given prominence to a
unlikely to cause damage, but because the ex- concept of assured destruction: the capabil-
tent of fire damage depends on factors such as ities of U.S. nuclear weapons have been de-
weather and details is of building construction scribed in terms of the level of damage they

4 The Effects of /Vuc/ear War

can surely inflict even in the most unfavorable 4. There are major differences between the
circumstances. It should be understood that in United States and the Soviet Union that affect the
the event of an actual nuclear war, the destruc- nature of their vulnerability to nuclear attacks,
tion resulting from an all-out nuclear attack despite the fact that both are large and diversified
would probably be far greater. In addition to industrial countries. Differences between the
the tens of millions of deaths during the days two countries in terms of population distribu-
and weeks after the attack, there would prob- tion, closeness of population to other targets,
ably be further millions (perhaps further tens vulnerability of agricultural systems, vulner-
of millions) of deaths in the ensuing months or ability of cities to fire, socioeconomic system,
years. In addition to the enormous economic and political system create significant asym-
destruction caused by the actual nuclear ex- metries in the potential effects of nuclear at-
plosions, there would be some years during tacks. Differences in civil defense preparations
which the residual economy wouId decline fur- and in the structure of the strategic arsenals
ther, as stocks were consumed and machines compound these asymmetries. By and large,
wore out faster than recovered production the Soviet Union is favored by geography and
could replace them. Nobody knows how to by a political/economic structure geared to
estimate the likelihood that industrial civiliza- emergencies; the United States is favored by
tion might collapse in the areas attacked; addi- having a bigger and better economy and (per-
tionally, the possibility of significant long-term haps) a greater capacity for effective decen-
ecological damage cannot be excluded. tralization. The larger size of Soviet weapons
also means that they are likely to kill more
2. The impact of even a small or limited nu-
people while aiming at something else.
clear attack would be enormous. Although pre-
dictions of the effects of such an attack are 5. Although it is true that effective sheltering
subject to the same uncertainties as predic- and/or evacuation could save lives, it is not clear
tions of the effects of an all-out attack, the that a civil defense program based on providing
possibilities can be bounded. OTA examined shelters or planning evacuation would necessari-
the impact of a small attack on economic tar- ly be effective. To save Iives, it is not only
gets (an attack on oil refineries limited to 10 necessary to provide shelter in, or evacuation
missiles), and found that while economic re- to, the right place (and only extreme measures
covery would be possible, the economic dam- of dispersion would overcome the problem
age and social dislocation could be immense. that the location of safe places cannot be reli-
A review of calculations of the effects on civil- ably predicted), it is also necessary to provide
ian populations and economies of major coun- food, water, medical supplies, sanitation, secu-
terforce attacks found that while the conse rity against other people, possibly filtered air,
quences might be endurable (since they would etc. After fallout diminishes, there must be
be on a scale with wars and epidemics that na- enough supplies and enough organization to
tions have endured in the past), the number of keep people alive while production is being re-
deaths might be as high as 20 million. More- stored. The effectiveness of civil defense
over, the uncertainties are such that no govern- measures depends, among other things, on the
ment could predict with any confidence what events leading up to the attack, the enemys
the results of a Iimited attack or counterattack targeting policy, and sheer luck.
would be even if there was no further esca-
6. The situation in which the survivors of a
nuclear attack find themselves will be quite un-
3. It is therefore reasonable to suppose that precedented. The surviving nation would be far
the extreme uncertainties about the effects of a weakereconomically, socially, and politi-
nuclear attack, as well as the certainty that the cally than one would calculate by adding up
minimum consequences would be enormous, the surviving economic assets and the numbers
both play a role in the deterrent effect of nuclear and skills of the surviving people. Natural re-
weapons. sources would be destroyed; surviving equip-
Ch. 1ExecutNe Summary 5

ment would be designed to use materials and before they started to get better. For a period of
skills that might no longer exist; and indeed time, people could live off supplies (and, in a
some regions might be almost uninhabitable. sense, off habits) left over from before the war.
Furthermore, prewar patterns of behavior But shortages and uncertainties would get
would surely change, though in unpredictable worse. The survivors wouId find themselves in
ways. Finally, the entire society would suffer a race to achieve viability (i. e., production at
from the enormous psychological shock of least equaling consumption plus depreciation)
having discovered the extent of its vulnerabili- before stocks ran out completely. A failure to
ty. achieve viability, or even a slow recovery,
would result in many additional deaths, and
much additional economic, political, and
7. From an economic point of view, and social deterioration. This postwar damage
possibly from a political and social viewpoint as could be as devastating as the damage from
well, conditions after an attack would get worse the actual nuclear explosions.


The scope of this study is both broader and cance of the different kinds of vulnerabilities
narrower than that of most other studies on of the two countries, and offers some insights
this subject. It is broader in three respects: about the consequences of the differences be-
tween the two countries nuclear weapon
1. it examines a full range of possible nucle
arsenals. The cases were chosen primarily to
ar attacks, with attacking forces ranging
investigate the effects of variations in attack
in extent from a single weapon to the bulk
size and in the kinds of targets attacked. It is
of a superpowers arsenal;
believed that the analysis is realistic, in the
2. it deals explicitly with both Soviet attacks
sense that the hypothetical attacks are possi-
on the United States and U.S. attacks on
ble ones. Patterns of nuclear explosions were
the Soviet Union; and
examined that are not very different from
3. it addresses the multiple effects of nucle-
those that, OTA believes, the existing nuclear
ar war, indirect as well as direct, long term
forces would produce if the military were
as well as short term, and social and eco-
ordered to make attacks of the specified size
nomic as well as physical.
on the specified targets.
Those effects that cannot be satisfactorily cal-
Case 1: In order to provide a kind of tutorial
culated or estimated are described qualita-
on what happens when nuclear weapons are
tively. But this reports scope is narrower than
most defense analyses because it avoids any Table 1. Summary of Cases
consideration of military effects; although it
hypothesizes (among other things) missile at- Case Description
tacks against military targets, only the col- 1 Attack on single city: Detroit and Leningrad; 1 weapon.
lateral damage such attacks would inflict on (pp. 27-44) or 10 small weapons.
the civilian society are examined. 2 Attack on oil refineries, limited to 10 missiles.
(pp. 64-80)
The approach used was to look at a series of
attack cases, (table 1) and to describe the 3 Counterforce attack; includes attack only on ICBM silos
various effects and overall impact each of (pp. 81-94) as a variant.
them might produce. By analyzing the impact 4 Attack on range of military and economic targets using
of the same attack case for both a U.S. attack (pp. 94-106) large fraction of existing arsenal.
on the Soviet Union and a Soviet attack on the For each case the first section describes a soviet attack on the United States and the following
United States, the report examines the signifi- section a U S attack on the Soviet Union
(3 . The Effects of Nuc/ear war

detonated, the study describes the effects of which is not analogous to any described in re-
the explosion of a single weapon. Then it ex- cent U.S. literature, it was hypothesized that
amines the effects of such an explosion over a the political leadership instructed the military
single U.S. city (Detroit) and single Soviet city to inflict maximum damage on energy produc-
(Leningrad) of comparable size. The base case tion using only 10 SNDVs without regard to the
was the detonation of a l-megaton weapon (1 extent of civilian casualties or other damage, It
M t = energy released by one million tons of was assumed that the Soviets would attack
TNT), since both the United States and the such targets with SS-18 missiles (each carrying
Soviet Union have weapons of roughly this size 10 multiple independently targetable reentry
in their arsenals. Then, in order to look at the vehicles, or MlRVs), and that the United States
ways in which the specific effects and overall would use 7 MlRVed Poseidon missiles and 3
impact wouId vary if other weapons that might MlRVed Minuteman III missiles.
be available were used, the effects of a 25-Mt
weapon over Detroit, the effects of a 9-Mt The calculations showed that the Soviet at-
weapon over Leningrad, and the effects of 10 tack would destroy 64 percent of U.S. oil refin-
weapons of 40 kilotons (kt) each over Lenin- ing capacity, while the U.S. attack would de-
grad are described. An attempt was made to stroy 73 percent of Soviet refining capacity.
describe as well the effects of a small weapon Calculations were also made of prompt fatal-
in a large city (such as a terrorist group might ities, including those killed by blast and fall-
set off) but was unsuccessful because the ef- out, assuming no special civil defense meas-
fects of such a weapon in a metropolitan set- ures: they showed about 5 million U.S. deaths
ting cannot be inferred from the existing body and about 1 million Soviet deaths. The results
of knowledge regarding military weapons. This were different for the two countries for several
is explained in the body of the report. reasons. Soviet oil refining capacity is more
concentrated than U.S. oiI refining capacity, so
The casualties from such attacks could
that a small attack can reach more of it. At the
range from 220,000 dead and 420,000 injured
same time, Soviet refineries tend to be located
to 2,500,000 dead and 1,100,000 injured (many
away from residential areas (the available data
of the injured would wind up as fatalities),
on population location deals with where peo-
depending on the details of the attack and the
ple live rather than with where they work) to a
assumptions made regarding conditions. The
greater extent than U.S. refineries. A further
discussion in chapter I I shows how the time of
difference is that a limitation on the number of
day, time of year, weather conditions, size of
weapon, height of burst, and preparation of delivery vehicles would lead each side to use
weapons with many MlRVs, so the United
the population could all make a great differ-
States would attack most of the targets with
ence in the number of casualties resulting from
Poseidon missiles which have small warheads,
such an attack. The extent of fire damage is a
while the Soviets would use SS-18 interconti-
further uncertainty, Even if only one city is at-
nental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) which carry
tacked, and the remaining resources of a na-
much larger warheads, and large warheads
tion are available to help, medical facilities
cause more damage to things not directly
would be inadequate to care for the injured. A
targeted (in this case, people) than do small
further imponderable is fallout (if the attack
uses a surface burst), whose effects depend on
the winds. One can only speculate about the conse-
Case 2: In order to examine the effects of a quences of such extensive destruction. There
small attack on urban/industrial targets, the would have to be drastic changes in both the
study examines a hypothetical attack limited U.S. and Soviet economies to cope with the
to 10 SNDVs (strategic nuclear delivery ve- sudden disappearance of the bulk of oil refin-
hicles, the term used in SALT to designate one ing capacity. Productivity in virtualIy every in-
missile or one bomber) on the other superpow- dustrial sector would decline, and some sec-
ers oil refineries. In planning this attack, tors would be largely wiped out. There would
Ch. lExecutive Summary 7

have to be strict allocation of the remaining 1,5OO,OOO if the construction is all houses, and
available refined petroleum products. Some about 800,000 if it is al I apartment buildings.
Soviet factory workers might end up working Perfect accuracy was assumed for missiles that
in the fields to replace tractors for which fuel are in fact somewhat inaccurate some inac-
was unavailable. The United States might have curacy might reduce the extent of damage to
to ban commuting by automobile, forcing sub- the refineries, but it might well increase the
urban residents to choose between moving and number of deaths.
long walks to a bus stop. The aftermath of the
Case 3. I n order to examine the effects on ci-
war might lead to either an increase or a de-
viIian popuIations and economies of counter-
crease i n the amount of petroleum products re- force attacks, the study examined attacks on
quired by the military. Changes in peoples at- ICBM silos and attacks on silos, bomber bases,
titudes are impossible to predict. Calm deter- and missile submarine bases. Such attacks
mination might produce effective responses
have received fairly extensive study in the ex-
that would limit the damage; panic or a break- ecutive branch in recent years, so OTA sur-
down in civic spirit could compound the ef- veyed a number of these studies in order to de-
fects of the attack itself.
termine the range of possible answers, and the
It is instructive to observe the asymmetries variations in assumptions that produce such a
between the problems which the United States range, An unclassified summary of this survey
and the Soviets would face. Soviet agricultural appears as appendix D of this volume. (The
production, which is barely adequate in peace- complete survey, classified secret, is available
time, wouId probably decline sharply, and pro- separately. )
duction rates would slow even in essential in- A counterforce attack would produce rel-
dustries However, the Soviet system is well atively Iittle direct blast damage to civiIians
adapted for allocating scarce resources to and to economic assets; the main damage
high-priority areas, and for keeping everybody would come from radioactive fallout, The un-
employed even if efficient employment is un- certainties in the effects of fallout are enor-
available. The relative wealth and freedom of mous, depending primarily on the weather and
the United States brings both advantages and on the extent of fallout sheltering which the
disadvantages: while agriculture and essential population makes use of. The calculations
industry wouId probably continue, there wouId made by various agencies of the executive
be a staggering organizational problem in branch showed a range in prompt fatalities
making use of resources that now depend on (almost entirely deaths from fallout within the
petroleum one must ask what the employees first 30 days) from less than 1 to 11 percent of
of an automobile factory or a retail establish- the U.S. population and from less than 1 to 5
ment on a highway wouId do if there were vir- percent of the Soviet population. This shows
tualIy no gasoline for cars, just how great a variation can be introduced
by modifying assumptions regarding popu-
A major question relating to these results is
lation distribution and shelter
how much they could vary with changed as-
sumptions, The figures for fatalities were What can be concluded from this? First, if
based on air bursts, which would maximize de- the attack involves surface bursts of many very
struction of the refineries. (As an excursion, large weapons, if weather conditions are un-
U.S. fatalities were recalculated on the as- favorable, and if no fallout shelters are created
sumption of surface bursts, and use of the best beyond those that presently exist, U.S. deaths
fallout shelters within 2 miles of where each couId reach 20 m i I I ion and Soviet deaths more
person lives. This reduced fatalities by one- than 10 million. (The difference is a result of
third, ) There was no data available on the geography; many Soviet strategic forces are so
types of Soviet residential construction in the located that fallout from attacking them
vicinity of oiI refineries: treating it para- wouId drift mainly into sparsely popuIated
metrically gave casualty figures of about areas or into China. ) Second, effective fallout

8 The Effects of Nuc/ear war

sheltering (which is not necessarily the same about the targeting policy of the attacker.
thing as a program this assumes people are Soviet casualties are smaller than U.S. casual-
actually sheltered and actually remain there) ties because a greater proportion of the Soviet
could save many Iives under favorable condi- population lives in rural areas, and because
tions, but even in the best imaginable case U.S. weapons (which have lower average
more than a million would die in either the yields) produce less fallout than Soviet
United States or the U.S.S.R. from a counter- weapons.
force attack. Third, the limited nature of
counterforce attacks may not be as significant Some excursions have been run to test the
as the enormous uncertainty regarding their effect of deliberately targeting population
resuIts. rather than killing people as a side effect of at-
tacking economic and military targets. They
There would be considerable economic show that such a change in targeting could kill
damage and disruption as a result of such at- somewhere between 20 million and 30 million
tacks. Almost all areas could, in principle, be additional people on each side, holding other
decontaminated within a few months, but the assumptions constant.
loss of so many people and the interruption of
economic life would be staggering blows. An These calculations reflect only deaths dur-
imponderable, in thinking about the process of ing the first 30 days. Additional millions would
recovery, is the extent of any lasting psycho- be injured, and many would eventually die
logical impacts. from lack of adequate medical care. In addi-
tion, millions of people might starve or freeze
Case 4: In order to examine the kind of de- during the following winter, but it is not possi-
struction that is generally thought of as the ble to estimate how many. Chapter V attempts
culmination of an escalator process, the to calculate the further millions who might
study looked at the consequences of a very eventually die of latent radiation effects.
large attack against a range of military and
economic targets. Here too calculations that What is clear is that from the day the sur-
the executive branch has carried out in recent vivors emerged from their fallout shelters, a
years were used. These calculations tend to kind of race for survival would begin. One side
assume that Soviet attacks on the United of the race would be the restoration of produc-
States would be a first strike, and hence use tion: production of food, of energy, of
most of the Soviet arsenal, while U.S. attacks clothing, of the means to repair damaged ma-
on the Soviet Union would be retaliatory chinery, of goods that might be used for trade
strikes, and hence use only those weapons that with countries that had not fought in the war,
might survive a Soviet counterforce attack. and even of military weapons and supplies.
However, the difference in damage to civilian The other side of the race would be consump-
populations and economies between a first tion of goods that had survived the attack, and
strike and a second strike seems to lie the wearing-out of surviving machines. If pro-
within the range of uncertainty created by duction rises to the rate of consumption
other factors. before stocks are exhausted, then viability has
been achieved and economic recovery has
The resulting deaths would be far beyond begun. If not, then each postwar year would
any precedent. Executive branch calculations see a lower level of economic activity than the
show a range of U.S. deaths from 35 to 77 per- year before, and the future of civilization itself
cent (i. e., from 70 million to 160 million dead), in the nations attacked would be in doubt. This
and Soviet deaths from 20 to 40 percent of the report cannot predict whether this race for
population. Here again the range reflects the economic viability would be won. The answer
difference made by varying assumptions about would lie in the effectiveness of postwar social
population distribution and sheltering, and to and economic organization as much as in the
a lesser extent differences in assumptions amount of actual physical damage. There is a
Ch. lExecutive Summary 9

controversy in the literature on the subject as avoiding predictions a b o u t t h e c o u r s e o f

to whether a postttack economy would be events leading up to a nuclear war. While both
based on centralized planning (in which case the U.S. and the Soviet Governments profess to
how would the necessary data and planning believe that urban evacuation prior to an at-
time be obtained?), or to individual initiative tack on cities would save lives, ordering such
and decentralized decision making (in which an evacuation would be a crisis management
case who would feed the refugees, and what move as welI as a civil defense precaution.
would serve for money and credit?).
Long-Term Effects: While the immediate dam-
An obviously critical question is the impact age from the blasts would be long term in the
that a nuclear attack would have on the lives sense that the damage couId not be quickly re-
of those who survive it. The case descriptions paired, there would be other effects which
discuss the possibilities of economic, political, might not manifest themselves for some years
social, and psychological disruption or col- after the attack. It is well established that
lapse. However, the recital of possibilities and levels of radiation too low (or too slowly ab-
uncertainties may fail to convey the overall sorbed) to cause immediate death or even ill-
situation of the survivors, especialIy the sur- ness will nevertheless have adverse effects on
vivors of a large attack that included urban-in- some fraction of a popuIation receiving them.
dustrial targets. In an effort to provide a more A nuclear attack would certainly produce both
concrete understanding of what a world after a somatic effects (largely cancer) and genetic ef-
nuclear war would be Iike, OTA commissioned fects, although there is uncertainty about the
a work of fiction. It appears as appendix C and numbers of victims. OTA calcuIated the ranges
presents some informed speculation about of such effects that might be produced by
what life would be like in Charlottesville, Va., each of the attack cases analyzed. Cancer
assuming that this city escaped direct damage deaths and those suffering some form of
from the attack. The kind of detail that such an genetic damage would run into the millions
imaginative account presentsdetail that over the 40 years following the attack. For the
proved to be unavailable for a comparable comprehensive attack (Case 4), it appears that
Soviet cityadds a dimension to the more cancer deaths and genetic effects in a country
abstract analysis in the body of the report. attacked would be smalI relative to the num-
bers of immediate deaths, but that radiation
Civil Defense: Chapter 11 I provides some
effects elsewhere in the world would appear
basic information about civil defense meas-
more significant. For counterforce attacks, the
ures, discusses the way in which they might
effects would be significant both locally and
mitigate the effects of nuclear attack, and
discusses the uncertainties regarding their ef-
fectiveness. There is a lively controversy A 1975 study by the National Academy of
among experts as to the effectiveness of exist- Sciences (NAS)l addressed the question of the
ing Soviet civil defense programs, and another possibility of serious ecological damage, and
controversy as to whether existing U.S. pro- concluded that while one cannot say just how
grams ought to be changed. The major points such damage would occur, it cannot be ruled
in dispute were identified, but no attempt was out. This conclusion still stands, although the
made to assess the merits of the arguments. NAS report may have been more alarmist
For the purposes of this study, it was assumed about the possibility of damage to the ozone
that the existing civil defense programs, as layer than recent research would support.
described in this report, would be in effect,
Table 2 summarizes the results of the case
and that a full-scale preattack evacuation of
cities (sometimes called crisis relocation)
would not take place. This assumption was Wor/dwide E f f e c t s o f Mu/tip/e Nuc/ear-
made because it appeared to be the only way VVeapons Detonations (Washington, DC.: National Acad-
to describe existing vulnerabilities while emy of Sciences, 1 975).

10 . The Effects of A/uc/ear War

Table 2. Summary of Effects

Main causes of
Case Description civilian damage Immediate deaths Middle-term effects Long-term effects

1 Attack on single city: Blast, fire, & loss of infra- 2oo,oo- Many deaths from injuries; Relatively minor
(pp. 27-44) Detroit and Leningrad; structure, fallout IS else- 2,000,000 center of city difficult to
1 weapon or 10 small where, rebuild,

2 Attack on oil refineries, Blast, fire, secondary 1,000,000- Many deaths from injuries; Cancer deaths in millions
(pp. 64-80) Iimited to 10 missiles, fires, fallout, Extensive 5,000 1000 great economic hardship for only if attack involves
economic problems from some years; particular prob- surface bursts
loss of refined lems for Soviet agriculture
petroleum, and for U.S. socioeconomic

3 Counterforce attack: Some blast damage if 1,000>000- Economic impact of deaths, Cancer deaths and genetic
(pp. 81-94) Includes attack only on bomber and missile sub 20,000,000 possible large psychological effects in millions, further
ICBM silos as a variant marine bases attacked impact millions of effects outside
attacked countries

4 Attack on range of mili- Blast and fallout, subse- 20,000,000- Enormous economic de- Cancer deaths and genetic
(pp. 94-106) tary and economic tar- quent economic disrup- 160,000,000 struction and disruption, damage in the millions; rela-
gets using large fraction tion; possible lack of re- If Immediate deaths are in tively Insignificant in
of existing arsenal sources to support surviv - low range, more tens of mil- attacked areas, but quite
ing population or economic Iions may die subsequently significant elsewhere in the
recovery, Possible break- because economy iS unable world. Possibility of eco-
down of social order. Pos- to support them Major logical damage.
sible Incapacitating psy- question about whether eco-
chological trauma. nomic viability can be re-
storedkey variables may
be those of political and eco-
nomic organization Unpre-
dictable psychological


There are enormous uncertainties and im- from the need to make assumptions about
ponderable involved in any effort to assess matters such as time of day, time of year,
the effects of a nuclear war, and an effort to wind, weather, size of bombs, exact loca-
look at the entire range of effects compounds tion of the detonations, location of peo-
them. Many of these uncertainties are obvious ple, availability and quality of sheltering,
ones: if the course of a snowstorm cannot be etc.
predicted 1 day ahead in peacetime, one must Effects that would surely take place, but
certainly be cautious about predictions of the whose magnitude cannot be calculated.
pattern of radioactive fallout on some un- These include the effects of fires, the
known future day. Similar complexities exist shortfalIs in medical care and housing, the
for human institutions: there is great difficulty extent to which economic and social dis-
in predicting the peacetime course of the U.S. ruption would magnify the effects of
economy, and predicting its course after a nu- direct economic damage, the extent of
clear war is a good deal more difficult. This bottlenecks and synergistic effects, the ex-
study highlights the importance of three cate- tent of disease, etc.
gories of uncertainties: Effects that are possible, but whose likeli-
Uncertainties in calcuIations of deaths hood is as incalculable as their magni-
and of direct economic damage resulting tude. These include the possibility of a
Ch. lExecutive Summary 11

long downward economic spiral before A third uncertainty is the weather at the time
viability is attained, the possibIity of po- of the attack at the various places where
litical disintegration (anarchy or regional- bombs explode. The local wind conditions, and
ization), the possibility of major epidem- especialIy the amount of moisture in the air,
ics, and the possibility of i reversible eco- may make an enormous difference in the num-
logical changes. ber and spread of fires. Wind conditions over a
wider area determine the extent and location
One major problem in making calculations of fallout contamination. The time of year has
is to know where the people wilI be at the mo- a decisive effect on the damage that fallout
ment when the bombs explode. Calculations does to agriculturewhile an attack in Jan-
for the United States are generally based on uary might be expected to do only indirect
the 1970 census, but it should be borne in mind damage (destroying farm machinery or the fuel
that the census data describes where peoples to run it), fallout when plants are young can
homes are, and there is never a moment when kill them, and fallout just before harvesttime
everybody in the United States is at home at would probably make it unsafe to get the har-
the same time If an attack took place during a vest in. The time of year also has direct effects
working day, casualties might well be higher on population death the attack in the dead
since people would be concentrated in fac- of winter, which might not directly damage
tories and offices (which are more likely to be agricuIture, may lead to greater deaths from
targets) rather than dispersed in suburbs. For fallout radiation (because of the difficulty of
the case of the Soviet population, the same improvising fallout protection by moving
assumption is made that people are at home, frozen dirt) and from cold and exposure.
but the inaccuracies are compounded by the
unavailability of detailed information about The question of how rapid and efficient eco-
just where the Soviet rural population lives. nomic receovery would be or indeed whether
The various calculations that were used made a genuine recovery would be possible at all
varying, though not unreasonable assumptions raises questions that seem to be beyond cal-
about population location. cuIation. I t is possible to calculate direct eco-
nomic damage by making assumptions about
A second uncertainty in calculations has to the size and exact location of bomb explo-
do with the degree of protection available. sions, and the hardness of economic assets;
There is no good answer to the question: however, such calculations cannot address the
Would people use the best available shelter issues of bottlenecks and of synergy. Bottle-
against blast and fallout? It seems unreason- necks would occur if a key product that was
able to suppose that shelters would not be essential for many other manufacturing proc-
used, and equally unreasonable to assume that esses could no longer be produced, or (for the
at a moment of crisis all available resources case of a large attack) if an entire industrial
would be put to rational use, (It has beep sector were wiped out. I n either case, the eco-
pointed out that if plans worked, people nomic loss wouId greatly exceed the peace-
behaved rationally, and machinery were ade- time value of the factories that were actually
quately maintained, there would be no peace- destroyed. There does not appear to be any re-
time deaths from traffic accidents. ) The De- liable way of calculatin g the likelihood or ex-
fense Civil Preparedness Agency has con- tent of bottlenecks because economic input/
cluded from public opinion surveys that in a output models do not address the possibiIity or
period of severe international crisis about 10 cost of substitutions across sectors. Apart from
percent of all Americans would leave their the creation of bottlenecks, there couId be syn-
homes and move to a safer place (spontane- ergistic effects: for example, the fire that can-
ous evacuation); more reliable estimates are not be controlled because the blast destroyed
probably impossible, but it could make a sub- fire stations, as actually happened at Hiroshi-
stantial difference to the casualty figures ma. Here, too, there is no reliable way to

12 The Effects of Nuclear War

estimate the likelihood of such effects: would both the physical and the psychological vul-
radiation deaths of birds and the destruction nerability of a population to a nuclear attack.
of insecticide factories have a synergistic ef- Even more critical would be the events after
fect? Another uncertainty is the possibility of the attack. Assuming that the war ends
organizational bottlenecks. In the most ob- promptly, the terms on which it ends could
vious instance, it would make an enormous dif- greatly affect both the economic condition
ference whether the President of the United and the state of mind of the population. The
States survived. Housing, defined as a place way in which other countries are affected
where a productive worker lives as distinct could determine whether the outside world is a
from shelter for refugees, is another area of source of help or of further danger. The post-
uncertainty. Minimal housing is essential if attack military situation (and nothing in this
production is to be restored, and it takes time study addresses the effects of nuclear attacks
to rebuild it if the existing housing stock is de- on military power) could not only determine
stroyed or is beyond commuting range of the the attitude of other countries, but also
surviving (or repaired) workplaces. It should be whether limited surviving resources are put to
noted that the United States has a much larger military or to civilian use.
and more dispersed housing stock than does
Moreover, the analyses in this study all
the Soviet Union, but that American workers
assume that the war would end after the hypo-
have higher minimum standards.
thetical attack. This assumption simplifies
There is a final area of uncertainty that this analysis, but it might not prove to be the case.
study does not even address, but which could How much worse would the situation of the
be of very great importance. Actual nuclear at- survivors be if, just as they were attempting to
tacks, unlike those in this study, would not restore some kind of economy following a
take place in a vacuum. There would be a massive attack, a few additional weapons de-
series of events that would lead up to the at- stroyed the new centers of population and of
tack, and these events could markedly change government?
Chapter II

Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
General Description of Effects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
Blast . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
Direct Nuclear Radiation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
Thermal Radiation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
Fires . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
Electromagnetic Pulse. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
Fallout . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
Combined Injuries (Synergism). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
Detroit and Leningrad . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
1Mt on the Surface in Detroit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
Physical Damage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
Infrastructure Status . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
Radioactive Fallout . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
1-Mt Air Burst on Detroit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
25-Mt Air Burst on Detroit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
Leningrad . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
l-Mtand 9-Mt Air Bursts on Leningrad . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
Ten 40-kt Air Bursts on Leningrad. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
1-kt Terrorist Weapon at Ground Level . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45

3. Blast Effects of a 1-Mt Explosion 8,000 ft Above the Earths
Surface. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
4. Casualty Estimates. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
S. Burn Casualty Estimates. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32

l. Vulnerability of Population in Various Overpressure Zones . . 19
2. Main Fallout Pattern Uniform 15 mph Southwest Wind . . . . 24
3. Main Fallout Pattern Uniform 15 mph Northwest Wind . . . . 25
4. Detroit 1-Mt Surface Burst . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
5. Detroit 1-Mt Air Burst. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
6. Casualties. ......., . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
7. Detroit 25-Mt Air Burst. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
8. Leningrad Commercial and Residential Sections . . . . . . . . . 40
9. Leningrad Populated Area. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
IO. Leningrad l-Mt Air Burst. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
11. Leningrad 9-Mt Air Burst. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43
12. Leningrad Ten 40-kt Air Burst . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
Chapter II


This chapter presents a brief description of the major effects of nuclear explo-
sions on the people and structures in urban areas. The details of such effects would
vary according to weapons design, the exact geographical layout of the target area,
the materials and methods used for construction in the target area, and the weather
(especially the amount of moisture in the atmosphere). Thus, the reader should bear
in mind that the statements below are essentially generalizations, which are subject
to a substantial range of variation and uncertainty.
To convey some sense of the actual effects of large nuclear explosions on urban
areas, the potential impact of explosions is described in two real citiesDetroit and
Leningrad. To show how these effects vary with the size of the weapon, the effects
have been calculated in each city for a variety of weapon sizes.
The descriptions and analysis assume that there is no damage elsewhere in the
country. This may appear unlikely, and in the case of a surface burst it is certainly
wrong, since a surface burst would generate fallout that would cause casualties
elsewhere. However, isolating the effects on a single city allows the setting forth in
clear terms of the direct and immediate effects of nuclear explosions. The result is a
kind of tutorial in nuclear effects. Subsequent sections of this report, which deal with
the effects of larger attacks, discuss the indirect effects of fallout and of economic
and social disruption.
Although it is outside the scope of a discussion of nuclear war, there has been
considerable public interest in the effects of a nuclear explosion that a terrorist
group might succeed in setting off in an urban area. Accordingly, a discussion of this
possibility y is added at the end of this chapter.


The energy of a nuclear explosion is released pulses of electrical and magnetic energy,
in a number of different ways: called electromagnetic pulse (EM P); and
an explosive blast, which is qualitatively the creation of a variety of radioactive
similar to the blast from ordinary chem- particles, which are thrown up into the air
ical explosions, but which has somewhat by the force of the blast, and are called
different effects because it is typically so radioactive fallout when they return to
much larger; Earth.
direct nuclear radiation;
direct thermal radiation, most of which The distribution of the bombs energy
takes the form of visible Iight; among these effects depends on its size and on

16 . The Effects of Nuclear War

the details of its design, but a general descrip- Blast and shock Thermal radiation
and EMP
tion is possible.

Most damage to cities from large weapons

(called static overpressure) that can crush ob- \ /

jects, and high winds (called dynamic pressure) \ /
that can move them suddenly or knock them
down. In general, large buildings are destroyed
by the overpressure, while people and objects
such as trees and utility poles are destoyed by
the wind. Initial Residual nuclear
nuclear radiation radiation (fallout)
For example, consider the effects of a 1-
megaton (Mt) air burst on things 4 miles [6 km] Effects of a nuclear explosion

Photo credit: U S Department of Energy

Thermonuclear ground burst
Ch. IIA Nuclear Weapon Over Detroit or Leningrad: A Tutorial on the Effects of Nuclear Weapons 17

away. The overpressure will be in excess of 5 and the greater the distance the greater the op-
pounds per square inch (psi), which will exert a timum burst height. As a result, a burst on the
force of more than 180 tons on the wall of a surface produces the greatest overpressure at
typical two-story house. At the same place, very close ranges (which is why surface bursts
there would be a wind of 160 mph [255 km]; are used to attack very hard, very small targets
while 5 psi is not enough to crush a man, a such as missile silos), but less overpressure
wind of 180 mph would create fatal collisions is ions than an air burst at somewhat longer ranges.
between people and nearby objects. Raising the height of the burst reduces the
The magnitude of the blast effect (generally overpressure directly under the bomb, but
measured in pounds per square inch) dimin- widens the area at which a given smaller over-
ishes with distance from the center of the ex- pressure is produced. Thus, an attack on fac-
plosion. It is related in a more complicated tories with a l-Mt weapon might use an air
way to the height of the burst above ground burst at an altitude of 8,000 feet [2,400 m],
level. For any given distance from the center of which would maximize the area (about 28 mi2
the explosion, there is an optimum burst height [7,200 hectares]) that would receive 10 psi or
that will produce the greatest overpressure, more of overpressure.

Photo credit: U S Air Force

Fireball from an air burst in the megaton energy range
18 . The Effects of Nuc/ear War

Photo credit U S Uepartmenf of Defense

The faintly luminous shock front seen just ahead of the fireball soon after breakaway

Table 3 shows the ranges of overpressures returns to Earth as fallout. An explosion that is
and effects from such a blast. farther above the Earths surface than the
radius of the fireball does not dig a crater and
When a nuclear weapon is detonated on or
produces negligible immediate fallout.
near the surface of the Earth, the blast digs out
a large crater. Some of the material that used For the most part, blast kills people by in-
to be in the crater is deposited on the rim of direct means rather than by direct pressure.
the crater; the rest is carried up into the air and While a human body can withstand up to 30

Table 3.Blast Effects of a 1-Mt Explosion 8,000 ft Above the Earths Surface

Distance from ground zero Peak Peak wind
(stat. miles) (kilometers) overpressure velocity (mph) Typical blast effects
.8 1,3 20 psi 470 Reinforced concrete structures are leveled.
30 48 10 psi 290 Most factories and commercial buildings are
collapsed. Small wood-frame and brick
residences destroyed and distributed as
4.4 7.0 5 psi 160 Lightly constructed commercial buildings and
typical residences are destroyed, heavier
construction IS severely damaged
5.9 95 3 psi 95 Walls of typical steel-frame buildings are
blown away: severe damage to residences.
Winds sufficient to kill people in the open.
11 6 18.6 1 psi 35 Damage to structures, people endangered by
flying glass and debris
Ch. IIA Nuclear Weapon Over Detroit or Leningrad: A Tutorial on the Effects of Nuclear Weapons 19

psi of simple overpressure, the winds asso- ple killed in areas receiving less than 5 psi, and
ciated with as little as 2 to 3 psi could be ex- hence that fatalities are equal to the number
pected to blow people out of typical modern of people inside a 5-psi ring.
office buildings. Most blast deaths result from
the collapse of occupied buildings, from peo-
ple being blown into objects, or from buildings Direct Nuclear Radiation
or smaller objects being blown onto or into
people. Clearly, then, it is impossible to Nuclear weapons inflict ionizing radiation
calculate with any precision how many people on people, animals, and plants in two different
would be killed by a given blastthe effects ways. Direct radiation occurs at the time of the
would vary from buiIding to buiIding. explosion; it can be very intense, but its range
is Iimited. Fallout radiation is received from
In order to estimate the number of casual- particles that are made radioactive by the ef-
ties from any given explosion, it is necessary to fects of the explosion, and subsequently dis-
make assumptions about the proportion of tributed at varying distances from the site of
people who will be killed or injured at any the blast. Fallout is discussed in a subsequent
given overpressure. The assumptions used in sect ion.
this chapter are shown in figure 1. They are
relatively conservative. For example, weapons For large nuclear weapons, the range of in-
tests suggest that a typical residence will be tense direct radiation is less than the range of
collapsed by an overpressure of about 5 psi. lethal blast and thermal radiation effects.
People standing in such a residence have a 50- However, in the case of smaller weapons, di-
percent chance of being killed by an over- rect radiation may be the lethal effect with the
pressure of 3.5 psi, but people who are lying greatest range. Direct radiation did substantial
down at the moment the blast wave hits have a damage to the residents of Hiroshima and
50-percent chance of surviving a 7-psi over- Nagasaki.
pressure. The calculations used here assume a Human response to ionizing radiation is sub-
mean lethal overpressure of 5 to 6 psi for peo- ject to great scientific uncertainty and intense
ple in residences, meaning that more than half controversy. It seems likely that even small
of those whose houses are blown down on top doses of radiation do some harm, To under-
of them will nevertheless survive. Some studies stand the effects of nuclear weapons, one
use a simpler technique: they assume that the must distinguish between short- and long-term
number of people who survive in areas receiv- effects:
ing more than 5 psi equal the number of peo-
Short-Term Effects.-A dose of 600 rem
within a short period of time (6 to 7 days)
Figure 1 .Vulnerability of Population in Various has a 90-percent chance of creating a fatal
Overpres-sure Zones ilIness, with death occurring within a few
weeks. (A rem or roentgen-equivalent-
man is a measure of biological damage:
a rad is a measure of radiation energy
I 75 absorbed; a roentgen is a measure of radi-
ation energy; for our purposes it may be
assumed that 100 roentgens produce 100
rads and 100 rem. ) The precise shape of
the curve showing the death rate as a
25 function of radiation dose is not known in
the region between 300 and 600 rem, but a
Over 12 psi 5-12 psi 2-5 psi 1-2 psi dose of 450 rem within a short time is esti-
mated to create a fatal illness in half the
people exposed to it; the other half would
20 The Effects of Nuclear War

get very sick, but would recover. A dose of

300 rem might kill about 10 percent of
those exposed. A dose of 200 to 450 rem
will cause a severe illness from which
most people would recover; however, this
illness wouId render people highly suscep-
tible to other diseases or infections. A
dose of so to 200 rem will cause nausea
and lower resistance to other diseases, but
medical treatment is not required. A dose
below so rem will not cause any short-
term effects that the victim will notice,
but will nevertheless do long-term dam-
Long-Term Effects.-The effects of smaller
doses of radiation are long term, and
measured in a statistical way. A dose of 50
rem generally produces no short-term ef- Photo credit U S Air force

fects; however, if a large population were Burn injuries from nuclear blasts
exposed to so reins, somewhere between
0.4 and 2.5 percent of them would be ex-
pected to contract fatal cancer (after
some years) as a result. There would also
be serious genetic effects for some frac-
tion of those exposed. Lower doses pro-
duce lower effects. There is a scientific
controversy about whether any dose of
radiation, however small, is really safe.
Chapter V discusses the extent of the long-
term effects that a nuclear attack might
produce. It should be clearly understood,
however, that a large nuclear war would
expose the survivors, however well shel-
tered, to levels of radiation far greater
than the U.S. Government considers safe
in peacetime.

Thermal Radiation
Approximately 35 percent of the energy
from a nuclear explosion is an intense burst of
thermal radiation, i.e., heat. The effects are
roughly analogous to the effect of a 2-second
flash from an enormous sunlamp. Since the
thermal radiation travels at the speed of light
(actually a bit slower, since it is deflected by
particles in the atmosphere), the flash of light Photo credit U S Department of Defense
and heat precedes the blast wave by several The patients skin is burned in a pattern corresponding
seconds, just as lightning is seen before the to the dark portions of a kimono worn at the time of
thunder is heard. the explosion
Ch. IIA Nuclear Weapon Over Detroit or Leningrad: A Tutorial on the Effects of Nuclear Weapons 21

The visible light will produce flashblind- general, ignitible materials outside the house,
ness in people who are looking in the direc- such as leaves or newspapers, are not sur-
tion of the explosion. Flashblindness can last rounded by enough combustible material to
for several minutes, after which recovery is generate a self-sustaining fire. Fires more likely
total. A l-Mt explosion could cause flashblind- to spread are those caused by thermal radia-
ness at distances as great as 13 miles [21 km] on tion passing through windows to ignite beds
a clear day, or 53 miles [85 km] on a clear night. and overstuffed furniture inside houses. A
If the flash is focused through the lens of the rather substantial amount of combustible
eye, a permanent retinal burn will result. At material must burn vigorously for 10 to 20
Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there were many minutes before the room, or whole house,
cases of flashblindness, but only one case of becomes inflamed. The blast wave, which ar-
retinal burn, among the survivors. On the other rives after most thermal energy has been ex-
hand, anyone flashblinded while driving a car pended, will have some extinguishing effect on
could easiIy cause permanent injury to himself the fires. However, studies and tests of this ef-
and to others. fect have been very contradictory, so the ex-
tent to which blast can be counted on to extin-
Skin burns result from higher intensities of
guish fire starts remains quite uncertain.
light, and therefore take place closer to the
point of explosion. A 1-Mt explosion can cause Another possible source of fires, which
first-degree burns (equivalent to a bad sun- might be more damaging in urban areas, is in-
burn) at distances of about 7 miles [11 km], direct. Blast damage to stores, water heaters,
second-degree burns (producing blisters that furnaces, electrical circuits, or gas lines would
lead to infection if untreated, and permanent ignite fires where fuel is plentiful.
scars) at distances of about 6 miles [10 km],
and third-degree burns (which destroy skin The best estimates are that at the 5-psi level
tissue) at distances of up to 5 miles [8 km]. about 10 percent of al I buildings would sustain
Third-degree burns over 24 percent of the a serious fire, while at 2 psi about 2 percent
body, or second-degree burns over 30 percent would have serious fires, usualIy arising from
of the body, will result in serious shock, and secondary sources such as blast-damaged util-
will probably prove fatal unless prompt, spe- ities rather than direct thermal radiation.
cialized medical care is available. The entire
United States has facilities to treat 1,000 or It is possible that individual fires, whether
2,000 severe burn cases; a single nuclear caused by thermal radiation or by blast dam-
weapon could produce more than 10,000. age to utilities, furnaces, etc., would coalesce
into a mass fire that would consume alI struc-
The distance at which burns are dangerous tures over a large area. This possibility has
depends heavily on weather conditions. Exten- been intensely studied, but there remains no
sive moisture or a high concentration of par- basis for estimating its probability. Mass fires
ticles in the air (smog) absorbs thermal radia- could be of two kinds: a firestorm, in which
tion. Thermal radiation behaves like sunlight, violent inrushing winds create extremely high
so objects create shadows behind which the temperatures but prevent the fire from spread-
thermal radiation is indirect (reflected) and ing radially outwards, and a conflagration,
less intense. Some conditions, such as ice on in which a fire spreads along a front. Hamburg,
the ground or low white clouds over clean air, Tokyo, and Hiroshima experienced firestorms
can increase the range of dangerous thermal in World War 11; the Great Chicago Fire and
radiation. the San Francisco Earthquake Fire were confla-
grations. A firestorm is likely to kill a high pro-
Fires portion of the people in the area of the fire,
through heat and through asphyxiation of
The thermal radiation from a nuclear explo- those in shelters. A confIagration spreads slow-
sion can directly ignite kindling materials. In ly enough so that people in its path can
22 The Etffects of Nuclear War

escape, though a conflagration caused by a nu- might detonate a few weapons at such alti-
clear attack might take a heavy toll of those tudes in an effort to destroy or damage the
too injured to walk. Some believe that fire- communications and electric power systems of
storms in U.S. or Soviet cities are unlikely the victim.
because the density of flammable materials
(fuel loading) is too lowthe ignition of a There is no evidence that EMP is a physical
firestorm is thought to require a fuel loading of threat to humans. However, electrical or elec-
at least 8 lbs/ft2 (Hamburg had 32), compared tronic systems, particularly those connected to
to fuel loading of 2 lbs/ft 2 in a typical U.S. long wires such as powerlines or antennas, can
suburb and 5 lbs/ft2 in a neighborhood of two- undergo either of two kinds of damage. First,
story brick rowhouses. The Iikelihood of a con- there can be actual physical damage to an
flagration depends on the geography of the electrical component such as shorting of a
area, the speed and direction of the wind, and capacitor or burnout of a transistor, which
details of building construction. Another vari- would require replacement or repair before the
able is whether people and equipment are equipment can again be used. Second, at a
available to fight fires before they can lesser level, there can be a temporary opera-
coalesce and spread. tional upset, frequently requiring some effort
to restore operation. For example, instabilities
induced in power grids can cause the entire
Electromagnetic Pulse system to shut itself down, upsetting com-
Electromagnetic pulse (EMP) is an electro- puters that must be started again. Base radio
magnetic wave similar to radio waves, which stations are vulnerable not only from the loss
results from secondary reactions occurring of commercial power but from direct damage
when the nuclear gamma radiation is absorbed to electronic components connected to the
in the air or ground. It differs from the usual antenna. In general, portable radio transmit-
radio waves in two important ways. First, it ter/receivers with relatively short antennas are
creates much higher electric field strengths. not susceptible to EMP. The vulnerability of
Whereas a radio signal might produce a thou- the telephone system to EMP could not be
sandth of a volt or less in a receiving antenna, determined.
an EMP pulse might produce thousands of
volts. Secondly, it is a single pulse of energy
that disappears completely in a small fraction Fallout
of a second. In this sense, it is rather similar to
the electrical signal from lightning, but the rise While any nuclear explosion in the atmos-
in voltage is typically a hundred times faster. phere produces some fallout, the fallout is far
greater if the burst is on the surface, or at least
This means that most equipment designed to
protect electrical facilities from lightning low enough for the firebalI to touch the
works too slowly to be effective against EMP. ground. As chapter V shows in some detail, the
fallout from air bursts alone poses long-term
The strength of an EMP pulse is measured in health hazards, but they are trivial compared
volts per meter (v/m), and is an indication of to the other consequences of a nuclear attack.
the voltage that would be produced in an ex- The significant hazards come from particles
posed antenna. A nuclear weapon burst on the scooped up from the ground and irradiated by
surface will typically produce an EMP of tens the nuclear explosion.
of thousands of v/m at short distances (the 10-
psi range) and thousands of v/m at longer dis- The radioactive particles that rise only a
tances (l-psi range). Air bursts produce less short distance (those in the stem of the
EMP, but high-altitude bursts (above 19 miles familiar mushroom cloud) will fall back to
[21 km]) produce very strong EMP, with ranges earth within a matter of minutes, landing close
of hundreds or thousands of miles. An attacker to the center of the explosion. Such particles

Ch, IIA Nuclear Weapon Over Detroit or Leningrad: A Tutorial on the Effects of Nuclear Weapons 23

are unlikely to cause many deaths, because materials decay. These intense radiations will
they will fall in areas where most people have decrease relatively quickly. The intensity will
already been killed. However, the radioactivity have fallen by a factor of 10 after 7 hours, a
will complicate efforts at rescue or eventual factor of 100 after 49 hours and a factor of
reconstruct ion. 1,000 after 2 weeks. The areas in the plume il-
lustrated in figures 2 and 3 would become
The radioactive particles that rise higher will safe (by peacetime standards) in 2 to 3 years
be carried some distance by the wind before for the outer ellipse, and in 10 years or so for
returning to Earth, and hence the area and in- the inner ellipse.
tensity of the fallout is strongly influenced by
local weather conditions. Much of the material Some radioactive particles will be thrust
is simply blown downwind in a long plume, into the stratosphere, and may not return to
The map shown in figure 2 illustrates the Earth for some years. In this case only the par-
plume expected from a 1-Mt surface burst in ticularly long-lived particles pose a threat, and
Detroit if winds were blowing toward Canada. they are dispersed around the world over a
The illustrated plume assumed that the winds range of latitudes, Some fallout from U.S. and
were blowing at a uniform speed of 15 mph Soviet weapons tests in the 1950s and early
[24 km] over the entire region, The plume 1960s can still be detected. There are also
wouId be longer and thinner if the winds were some particles in the immediate fallout (nota-
more intense and shorter and somewhat more bly Strontium 90 and Cesium 137) that remain
broad if the winds were slower. If the winds radioactive for years. Chapter V discusses the
were from a different direction, the plume likely hazards from these long-lived particles.
would cover a different area. For example, a
wind from the northwest would deposit The biological effects of fallout radiation
enough fallout on Cleveland to inflict acute are substantially the same as those from direct
radiation sickness on those who did not radiation, discussed above, People exposed to
evacuate or use effective fallout shelters enough fallout radiation wiII die, and those ex-
(figure 3). Thus wind direction can make an posed to lesser amounts may become ill. Chap-
enormous difference. Rainfal I can also have a ter 11 I discusses the theory of fallout shelter-
significant influence on the ways in which ing, and chapter IV some of the practical dif-
radiation from smalIer weapons is deposited, ficulties of escaping fallout from a large coun-
since rain will carry contaminated particles to terforce attack.
the ground. The areas receiving such contami-
nated rainfall would become hot spots, with There is some public interest in the question
greater radiation intensity than their surround- of the consequences if a nuclear weapon de-
ings, When the radiation intensity from fallout stroyed a nuclear powerplant. The core of a
is great enough to pose an immediate threat to power reactor contains large quantities of
health, fallout will generally be visible as a thin radioactive material, which tends to decay
layer of dust. more slowly (and hence less intensely) than the
fallout particles from a nuclear weapon explo-
The amount of radiation produced by fall- sion, Consequently, fallout from a destroyed
out materials will decrease with time as the nuclear reactor (whose destruction would, in-
radioactive materials decay. Each material cidently, require a high-accuracy surface burst)
decays at a different rate, Materials that decay would not be much more intense (during the
rapidly give off intense radiation for a short first day) or widespread than ordinary fall-
period of time while long-lived materials radi- out, but would stay radioactive for a consid-
ate less intensely but for longer periods, Im- erably longer time. Areas receiving such fall-
mediately after the fallout is deposited in out wouId have to be evacuated or decontami-
regions surrounding the blast site, radiation in- nated; otherwise survivors would have to stay
tensities will be very high as the short-lived in shelters for months,
Figure 2. Main Fallout Pattern Uniform 15 mph Southwest Wind (1-Mt Surface Burst in Detroit).
(Contours for 7-Day Accumulated Dose (Without Shielding) of 3,000,900,300, and 90 Rem.)
Ch. IIA Nuclear Weapon Over Detroit or Leningrad: A Tutorial on the Effects of Nuclear Weapons 25

Figure 3. Main Fallout Pattern lJniforrn 15 mph Northwest Wind (1-Mt Surface Burst in Detroit).
(Contours for 7-Day Accumulated Dose (Without Shielding) of 3,000,900,300, and 90 Rem.)
26 . The Effects of Nuclear War

Combined Injuries (Synergism) posed to 300 reins, particularly if treat-

ment is delayed. Blood damage will clear-
So far the discussion of each major effect ly make a victim more susceptible to
(blast, nuclear radiation, and thermal radia- blood loss and infection. This has been
tion) has explained how this effect in isolation confirmed in laboratory animals in which
causes deaths and injuries to humans. It is cus- a borderline lethal radiation dose was
tomary to calculate the casualties accompany- followed a week later by a blast over-
ing hypothetical nuclear explosion as follows: pressure that alone would have produced
for any given range, the effect most likely to a low level of prompt lethality. The num-
kill people is selected and its consequences ber of prompt and delayed (from radi-
calculated, while the other effects are ignored. ation) deaths both increased over what
it is obvious that combined injuries are possi- would be expected from the single effect
ble, but there are no generally accepted ways alone.
of calculating their probability. What data do
exist seem to suggest that calculations of
Thermal Radiation and Mechanical lniu-
single effects are not too inaccurate for im- ries. There is no information available
mediate deaths, but that deaths occurring about the effects of this combination,
some time after the explosion may well be due beyond the common sense observation
to combined causes, and hence are omitted that since each can place a great stress on
from most calculations. Some of the obvious a healthy body, the combination of in-
possibilities are: juries that are individually tolerable may
Nuclear Radiation Combined With Thermal
subject the body to a total stress that it
cannot tolerate. Mechanical injuries
Radiation. Severe burns place considera-
should be prevalent at about the distance
ble stress on the blood system, and often
from a nuclear explosion that produces
cause anemia. It is clear from experiments
sublethal burns, so this synergism could
with laboratory animals that exposure of a
be an important one.
burn victim to more than 100 reins of radi-
ation will impair the bloods ability to sup- In general, synergistic effects are most likely
port recovery from the thermal burns. to produce death when each of the injuries
Hence a sublethal radiation dose could alone is quite severe. Because the uncertain-
make it impossible to recover from a burn ties of nuclear effects are compounded when
that, without the radiation, would not one tries to estimate the likelihood of two or
cause death. more serious but (individually) nonfatal inju-
Nuclear Radiation Combined With Mechan- ries, there really is no way to estimate the num-
ical Injuries. Mechanical injuries, the in- ber of victims.
direct results of blast, take many forms. A further dimension of the problem is the
Flying glass and wood will cause puncture possible synergy between injuries and environ-
wounds. Winds may blow people into ob- mental damage. To take one obvious example,
structions, causing broken bones, concus- poor sanitation (due to the loss of electrical
sions, and internal injuries. Persons caught power and water pressure) can clearly com-
in a collapsing building can suffer many pound the effects of any kind of serious injury.
similar mechanical injuries. There is evi- Another possibility is that an injury would so
dence that all of these types of injuries are immobilize the victim that he would be unable
more serious if the person has been ex- to escape from a fire.
Ch. IIA Nuclear Weapon Over Detroit or Leningrad: A Tutorial on the Effects of Nuclear Weapons 27


Detroit and Leningrad are representative in- The l-Mt explosion on the surface leaves a
dustrial cities large enough to warrant the use crater about 1,000 feet [300 m] in diameter and
of very large weapons. Both have metropolitan 200 feet [61 m] deep, surrounded by a rim of
populations of about 4.3 million, and both are highly radioactive soil about twice this diam-
major transportation and industrial centers. eter thrown out of the crater. Out to a distance
In assessing and describing the damage, sev-
of 0.6 miles [1 km] from the center there will be
eral assumptions were made that may not be nothing recognizable remaining, with the ex-
realistic, but which assisted in making a clear ception of some massive concrete bridge abut-
presentation of the range of possible effects: ments and building foundations. At 0.6 miles
some heavily damaged highway bridge sec-
. There is no warning. The popuIations have tions will remain, but little else until 1.3 miles
not evacuated or sought shelter, both of [2. I km], where a few very strongly constructed
which measures could reduce casualties. buildings with poured reinforced concrete
The detonations take place at night when walls will survive, but with the interiors totally
most people are at their residences. This destroyed by blast entering the window open-
corresponds to the available census data ings. A distance of 1.7 miles [2.7 km] (1 2-psi
about where people are, and indeed peo- ring) is the closest range where any significant
ple are near their residences more than structure wilI remain standing.
half the time. Of the 70,000 people in this area during non-
There is clear weather, with visibility of 10 working hours, there will be virtually no sur-
miles [16 km]. vivors. (See table 4.) Fatalities during working
hours in this business district would un-
The air bursts are at an altitude that max-
doubtedly be much higher. The estimated day-
imizes the area of 30 psi or more over-
time population of the downtown area is
pressure. A higher height of burst would
something over 200,000 in contrast to the cen-
have increased the range of 5-psi overpres-
sus data of about 15,000. If the attack oc-
sure (i.e. destruction of all residences) by
curred during this time, the fatalities would be
up to 10 percent, at the cost of less
increased by 130,000 and injuries by 45,000
damage to very hard structures near the
over the estimates in table 4. Obviously there
center of the explosion.
would be some reduction in casualties in outly-
No other cities are attacked, an assump- ing residential areas where the daytime popu-
tion that allows for analyzing the extent lation would be lower.
of outside help that would be required, if
it were avaiIable. In the band between the 1.7- and the 2.7-mile
(5 psi) circles, typical commercial and residen-
tial multistory buildings will have the walls
1 Mt on the Surface in Detroit completely blown out, but increasingly at the
greater distances the skeletal structure will re-
Physical Damage main standing.
Figure 4 shows the metropolitan area of Individual residences in this region will be
Detroit, with Windsor, Canada, across the river totally destroyed, with only foundations and
to the southeast and Lake St. Clair directly basements remaining, and the debris quite uni-
east. The detonation point selected is the in- formly distributed over the area. Heavy indus-
tersection of 1-75 and 1-94, approximately at trial plants will be destroyed in the inner part
the civic center and about 3 miles [5 km] from of the ring, but some industry will remain func-
the Detroit-Windsor tunnel entrance. Circles tional towards the outer edge. The debris
are drawn at the 12-, 5-, 2-, and 1-psi Iimits. depth that will clutter the streets will naturally
28 The Effects of Nuclear War
Ch. IIA Nuclear Weapon Over Detroit or Leningrad: A Tutorial on the Effects of Nuclear Weapons . 29

:1 , <-- ; +--~--k

Ch. IIA Nuclear Weapon Over Detroit or Leningrad: A Tutorial on the Effects of Nuclear Weapons 31

o-1 7 91 70 70 0 0
1 7-27 13.8 250 130 100 20
27-47 465 400 20 180 200
47-74 1026 600 0 150 450

depend on both the building heights and how less than 1 percent of the population might be
close together they are spaced. Typical depths exposed to direct thermal radiation, while on a
might range from tens of feet in the downtown clear summer weekend afternoon more than
area where buildings are 10 to 20 stories high, 25 percent might be exposed (that is, have no
down to several inches where buildings are structure between the fireball and the person).
lower and streets broader in the sector to the When visibility is 10 miles [16 km], a l-Mt ex-
west and north, In this band, blast damage plosion produces second-degree burns at a dis-
alone will destroy all automobiles, while some tance of 6 miles [10 km], while under circum-
heavier commercial vehicles (firetrucks and stances when visibility is 2 miles [3 km], the
repair vehicles) will survive near the outer range of second-degree burns is only 2.7 miles
edges. However, few vehicles will have been [4.3 km]. Table 5 shows how this variation
sufficiently protected from debris to remain could cause deaths from thermal radiation to
useful. The parking lots of both Cobb Field and vary between 1,000 and 190,000, and injuries to
Tiger Stadium will contain nothing driveable. vary between 500 and 75,000.
I n this same ring, which contains a nighttime In the band from 2.7 to 4.7 miles [4.4 to 7.6
population of about 250,000, about half will be km] (2 psi), large buildings will have lost win-
fatalities, with most of the remainder being in- dows and frames, interior partitions, and, for
jured. Most deaths will occur from collapsing those with light-walled construction, most of
buildings. Although many fires will be started, the contents of upper floors will have been
only a small percentage of the buildings are blown out into the streets. Load-bearing wall
Iikely to continue to burn after the blast wave buildings at the University of Detroit will be
passes. The mechanics of fire spread in a severely cracked. Low residential buildings will
heavily damaged and debris strewn area are be totally destroyed or severely damaged.
not well understood. However, it is probable Casualties are estimated to be about 50 per-
that fire spread would be slow and there would cent in this region, with the majority of these
be no firestorm. For unprotected people, the injured. There wilI stiIl be substantial debris in
initial nuclear radiation would be lethal out to the streets, but a very significant number of
1.7 miles [2.7 km], but be insignificant in its cars and trucks will remain operable. In this
prompt effects (50 reins) at 2.0 miles [3.2 km]. zone, damage to heavy industrial plants, such
Since few people inside a 2-mile ring will sur- as the Cadillac plant, will be severe, and most
vive the blast, and they are very Iikely to be in planes and hangars at the Detroit City Airport
strong buildings that typically have a 2- to 5- wilI be destroyed.
protection factor, the additional fatalities and
In this ring only 5 percent of the population
injuries from initial radiation should be small
of about 400,000 will be killed, but nearly half
compared to other uncertainties.
will be injured (table 4). This is the region of
The number of casualties from thermal the most severe fire hazard, since fire ignition
burns depends on the time of day, season, and and spread is more likely in partly damaged
atmospheric visibility. Modest variations in buildings than in completely flattened areas.
these factors produce huge changes in vulner- Perhaps 5 percent of the buildings would be
ability to burns. For example, on a winter night initially ignited, with fire spread to adjoining
32 The Effects of Nuclear War

buildings highly likely if their separation is less Whether fallout comes from the stem or the
than 50 feet [15 m]. Fires will continue to cap of the mushroom is a major concern in the
spread for 24 hours at least, ultimately destroy- general vicinity of the detonation because of
ing about half the buildings. However, these the time element and its effect on general
estimates are extremely uncertain, as they are emergency operations. Fallout from the stem
based on poor data and unknown weather con- starts building after about 10 minutes, so dur-
ditions. They are also made on the assumption ing the first hour after detonation it represents
that no effective effort is made by the unin- the prime radiation threat to emergency crews.
jured half of the population in this region to The affected area would have a radius of
prevent the ignition or spread of fires. about 6.5 miles [10.5 km] (as indicated by the
dashed circle on figure 4) with a hot-spot a
As table 5 shows, there would be between
distance downwind that depends on the wind
4,000 and 95,000 additional deaths from ther-
velocity. If a 15-mph wind from the southwest
mal radiation in this band, assuming a visibility
is assumed, an area of about 1 mi2 [260 hec-
of 10 miles [16 km]. A 2-mile [3 km] visibility
tares]the solid ellipse shown would cause
would produce instead between 1,000 and
an average exposure of 300 reins in the first
11,000 severe injuries, and many of these
hour to people with no fallout protection at
would subsequently die because adequate
all. The larger toned ellipse shows the area of
medical treatment would not be available.
150 reins in the first hour. But the important
In the outermost band (4.7 to 7.4 miles [7.6 feature of short-term (up to 1 hour) fallout is
to 11.9 km]) there will be only light damage to the relatively small area covered by life-
commercial structures and moderate damage threatening radiation levels compared to the
to residences. Casualties are estimated at 25 area covered by blast damage.
percent injured and only an insignificant num-
ber killed (table 4). Under the range of condi- Starting in about an hour, the main fallout
tions displayed in table 5, there will be an addi- from the cloud itself will start to arrive, with
tional 3,000 to 75,000 burn injuries requiring some of it adding to the already-deposited
specialized medical care. Fire ignitions should local stem fallout, but the bulk being dis-
be comparatively rare (limited to such kindling tributed in an elongated downwind ellipse.
material as newspaper and dry leaves) and Figures 2 and 3 show two fallout patterns, dif-
easily control led by the survivors. fering only in the direction of the wind. The

Table 5.Burn Casualty Estimates

(1 Mt on Detroit)

Distance from Survivors of Fatalities (eventual) Injuries

blast (mi) blast effects 2-mile visibility 10-mile visibility 2-mile visibility 10-mile visibility
(1 percent of population exposed to line of sight from fireball)
0 - 1 . 7 0 0 0 0 0
1 7 - 2 7 120,000 1,200 1, 200 o 0
2 7 - 4 . 7 . 380,000 0 3,800 500 0
47-74. 600,000 0 2,600 0
. 3,000
Total (rounded 1,000 8,000 500 3,000

(25 percent of population exposed to line of sight from fireball)

0 - 1 7 . o 0 0 0 0
1 7 - 2 7 , 120,000 30,000 30,000 0 0
2 . 7 - 4 7 380.000 0 95,000 11,000 0
4 , 7 - 7 4 . 600,000 0 66,000 0 751000
Total (rounded) 30,000 190.000 11.000 75,000
Ch. IIA Nuclear Weapon Over Detroit or Leningrad: A Tutorial on the Effects of Nuclear Weapons 33

contours marked are the number of reins re- centers, with probably 1,000 to 2,000 beds, in
ceived in the week following the arrival of the the entire United States.
cloud fat lout, again assuming no fallout pro-
tection whatever. Realistic patterns, which will
The total loss of all utilities in areas where
reflect wind shear, 2 wider crosswind distribu-
there has been significant physical damage to
tion, and other atmospheric vari ~bilities, will
the basic structure of buildings is inevitable.
be much more complex than this i lustration.
The electric power grid will show both the in-
herent strength and weakness of its complex
network. The CO I lapse of buiIdings and the top-
Infrastructure Status pling of trees and utility poles, along with the
As a complement to the prece ~ing descrip- injection of tens of thousands of volts of EMP
tion of physical destruction, the status of the into wires, will cause the immediate loss of
various infrastructure elements of the Detroit power in a major sector of the total U.S. power
metropolitan area, and the potential for their grid. Main electrical powerplants (near Grosse
recovery, can be addressed. The reader should Point Park to the east, and Zug Island to the
understand that this tutorial considers Detroit south) are both in the l-psi ring and should suf-
to be the only damaged area in the United fer only superficial damage. Within a day the
States, that there is no other threat that would major area grid should be restored, bringing
prevent survivors and those in surrounding power back to facilities located as close to the
areas from giving all possible aid, and that blast as the l-psi ring. Large numbers of power-
Federal and State governments will actively Iine workers and their equipment brought in
organize outside assistance. from the surrounding States will be able to
gradually restore service to surviving struc-
tures in the 1- to 2-psi ring over a period of
The near half-million injured present a med- days.
ical task of incredible magnitude. Those parts
of Wayne, Macomb, and Oakland counties
shown on the map have 63 hospitals contain- The water distribution system will remain
ing about 18,000 beds. However, 55 percent of mostly intact since, with the exception of one
these beds are inside the 5-psi ring and thus booster pumping station at 2 psi (which will
totally destroyed. Another 15 percent in the 2- suffer only minor damage), its facilities are
to 5-psi band will be severely damaged, leaving outside the damaged area. However, the loss
5,000 beds remaining outside the region of sig- of electric power to the pumps and the break-
nificant damage. Since this is only 1 percent of ing of many service connections to destroyed
the number of injured, these beds are in- buildings will immediately cause the loss of all
capable of providing significant medical assist- water pressure. Service to the whole area will
ance. In the first few days, transport of injured be restored only when the regional power grid
out of the damaged area will be severely ham- is restored, and to the areas of Iight and in-
pered by debris clogging the streets. In general, termediate damage only as valves to broken
only the nonprofessional assistance of nearby pipes can be located and shut off over a period
survivors can hope to hold down the large of days. There will be only sporadic damage to
number of subsequent deaths that would buried mains in the 2- to 5-psi region, but with
otherwise occur. Even as transportation for the increasing frequency in the 5- to 12-psi region.
injured out of the area becomes available in Damaged sections near the explosion center
subsequent days, the total medical facilities of wiII have to be closed off.
the United States will be severely overbur-
dened, since in 1977 there were only 1,407,000 The gas distribution system will receive simi-
hospital beds in the whole United States. Burn lar damage: loss of pressure from numerous
victims will number in the tens of thousands; broken service connections, some broken
yet in 1977 there were only 85 specialized burn mains, particularly in the 5- to 12-psi ring, and
34 The Effects of Nuc/ear War

numerous resulting fires. Service will be slowly dustry depends heavily on rail transportation,
restored only as utility repairmen and service but rail equipment and lines will usually sur-
equipment are brought in from surrounding vive wherever the facilities they support sur-
areas. vive.

Rescue and recovery operations will depend Most gasoline fuel oil tanks are located out
heavily on the reestablishment of transporta- beyond Dearborn and Lincoln Park and, at 16
tion, which in Detroit relies on private cars, miles from the detonation, will have suffered
buses, and commercial trucks, using a radial no damage. Arrival of fuel should not be im-
interstate system and a conventional urban peded, but its distribution will be totally
grid. Since bridges and overpasses are surpris- dependent on cleanup of streets and highways.
ingly immune to blast effects, those interstate The civil defense control center, located just
highways and broad urban streets without sig- beyond the Highland Park area in the 1- to 2-
nificant structures nearby will survive as far in psi ring, should be able to function without im-
as the 12-psi ring and can be quickly restored pairment. Commercial communications sys-
to use on clearing away minor amounts of tems (television and base radio transmitters)
debris. However, the majority of urban streets will be inoperable both from the loss of com-
will be cluttered with varying quantities of mercial power in the area and, for those facil-
debris, starting with tree limbs and other minor ities in the blast area, from EMP. Those not
obstacles at 1 psi, and increasing in density up blast damaged should be restored in several
to the 12-psi ring, where all buildings, trees, days. In the meantime, mobile radio systems
and cars will be smashed and quite uniformly will provide the primary means of communi-
redistributed over the area. It could take cating into the heavily damaged areas. The
weeks or months to remove the debris and telephone system will probably remain largely
restore road transportation in the area. functional in those areas where the lines have
survived structural damage in collapsing build-
The Detroit city airport, located in the mid-
ings, or street damage in areas where they are
dle of the 2- to 5-psi ring, will have essentially
not buried.
all of its aircraft and facilities destroyed.
Usually runways can be quickly restored to use Radioactive Fallout
following minor debris removal but, in this par-
ticular example with the southwest wind, the The extent and location of radioactive fall-
airport is the center of the fallout hot spot out will depend on weather conditions, espe-
from the dust column as well as of the inten- cially the speed and direction of the wind.
sive fallout from the cloud. Thus, cleanup ef- Figures 2 and 3 show how a uniform wind
forts to restore flight operations could not velocity of 15 mph could distribute fallout
commence for 2 weeks at the earliest, with the either over sparsely popuIated farming areas in
workers involved in the cleanup receiving 100 Canada if the wind is from the southwest, or
reins accumulated during the third week. The over Cleveland and Youngstown, Ohio, and
Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport Pittsburgh, Pa., if the wind is from the north-
and the Willow Run Airport are far outside the west. It should not be forgotten that these fall-
blast effects area and would be available as out patterns are idealizedsuch neat elipses
soon as the regional power grid electric service would occur in reality only with an absolutely
was restored. constant wind and no rain.
No effort was made to calculate the deaths,
The main train station, near the Detroit-
injuries, or economic losses that might result
Windsor highway tunnel, would have suffered
from such fallout patterns. However, the pos-
major damage (5 psi), but since few people
sibilities are instructive:
commute to the downtown area by train, its
loss would not be a major factor in the overall . The onset of fallout would depend on
paralysis of transportation. The surrounding in- wind velocity and distance from the ex-
Ch. IIA Nuclear Weapon Over Detroit or Leningrad: A Tutorial on the Effects of Nuclear Weapons 35

plosion and it would be most dangerous entered the food chain could pose an ad-
during the first few days. In the case of an ditional hazard.
attack on a single city (using a surface
burst, as our example does), people living Summary
downwind would probably evacuate.
It should be emphasized that there are many
Those who neither evacuated nor found
uncertainties in the assumptions underlying
adequate fallout shelters would be sub-
the description of the results of a l-Mt surface
jected to dangerous levels of radiation:
burst in Detroit. Nevertheless, several salient
people in the inner contour would receive
features stand out:
a fatal dose within the first week; people
in the next contour out would contract seventy square miles of property destruc-
very severe radiation sickness if they tion (2 psi),
stayed indoors and would probably re- a quarter-of -a-roil I ion fatalities, plus half a
ceive a fatal dose if they spent much time million injuries,
outdoors; people in the next contour out additional damage from widespread fires,
would contract generally nonfatal radi- casualties could have been greatly re
ation sickness, with increased hazards of duced by an alert and informed popula-
deaths from other diseases. People in the tion, and
outer contour (9o roentgens in the first rescue and recovery operations must be
week) would suffer few visible effects, but organized and heavily supported from
their life expectancy would drop as a outside the area (food, medical, utility res-
result of an increased risk of eventual toration, and cleanup).
As time passes, the continuing decay of

fallout radiation could be accelerated by

l-Mt Air Burst on Detroit
decontamination. Some decontamination For comparison, the same l-Mt nuclear
takes place naturally, as rain washes weapon was assumed to have been air burst at
radioactive particles away, and as they an altitude of 6,000 feet [1.8 km] over the same
are leached into the soil which attenuates interstate intersection as used in the preceding
the radiation. It is also possible to take ground burst discussion. This altitude will max-
specific measures to speed decontamina- imize the size of the 30-psi circle, but the
tion. Presumably evacuees would not radius of the 5-psi circle that results will be
move back into a contaminated area until only 10 percent smaller than what would have
the effects of time and decontamination resulted from a height of burst raised to the 5-
had made it safe. psi optimized value. There will be several
A Iimiting case is one in which no signifi- significant differences in this case.
cant decontamination takes place, and
areas receiving fallout become safe only
The sizes of the rings of pressure damage
when the radioactive particles have de- wilI be larger.
cayed to safe levels. Decay to a level of
The range of thermal burns and fire starts
500 millirems per year would require 8 to will also increase.
10 years for the inner contour (3,000 roent-
There will be no significant fallout.
gens in the first week); 6 years or so for the
There will be no crater.
next contour (900 roentgens in the first
The strongest structures may partly sur-
week); 3 to 4 years for the next contour vive even directly under the blast.
(300 roentgens in the first week); and Figure 5 shows the corresponding pressure
about 3 years for the outer contour (90 circles and figure 6 (second column) illustrates
roentgens in the first week). that the number of fatalities nearly doubled,
Natural processes could concentrate and the number of injured have greatly in-
some radioactive particles, and those that creased. At the same time, damage to major in-
36 The Effects of Nuc/ear War

Figure 5. Detroit l-Mt Air Burst

I 1 1 1 1 J
0 2 4 6 8 10
Ch. IIA Nuclear Weapon Over Detroit or Leningrad: A Tutorial on the Effects of Nuclear Weapons 37

Figure 6.Casualties (thousands)

(1 ,000s)

3,000 1,100




1,000 2,460


dustrial facilities is becoming significant, with miles [8 km] to the northwest. But even without
the Chrysler plant in the middle of the 2- to 5- this shift, it is clear that the whole metropoli-
psi band, and the Ford River Rouge plant in the tan area has been heavily damaged by the ex-
1- to 2-psi band. plosive power of this huge weapon. The casual-
ties are again shown on figure 6 (column 3).
The contrasts to the l-Mt surface burst are
25-Mt Air Burst on Detroit stark:
For 25 Mt, we assumed a burst altitude of
17,500 feet [5.3 km], over the same detonation There will be very few survivors (1.1 mil-
point. Figure 7 shows the 12-, 5-, and 2-psi rings, lion available to assist the much more nu-
but the 1-psi ring at 30.4 miles [48.9 km] is com- merous casualtie
pletely off the map. It is obvious that damage 1-Mt surface burst in which
and casualties wouId be increased even further 3.7 million survivors were potentially
had the detonation point been moved about 5 avai I able to assist the 640,000 casualties.
38 . The Effects of Nuclear War

Figure 7. Detroit 25-Mt Air Burst

I 1 1 1 1 J
O 2 4 6 8 10
Ch. IIA Nuclear Weapon Over Detroit or Leningrad: A Tutorial on the Effects of Nuclear Weapons . 39

There wilI be virtually no habitable hous- ings themselves are generalIy higher. Thus, the
ing in the area. population density does not drop off as it does
Essentially all heavy industry will be total- in the U.S. suburbs of predominately single-
ly destroyed. family houses.
As a result, rescue operations will have to be
totally supported from outside the area, with l-Mt and 9-Mt Air Bursts on Leningrad
evacuation of the 1.2 mi II ion survivors the only
feasible course. Recovery and rebuilding will The Leningrad apartments described are
be a very long-term, problematical issue. likely to have their walls blown out, and the
people swept out, at about 5 psi, even though
the remaining steel skeleton will withstand
much higher pressures. Thus, although the type
of construction is totally different from De-
Leningrad is a major industrial and transpor- troit, the damage levels are so similar that the
tation center built on the low-lying delta where same relationship between overpressure and
the Neva River enters the Gulf of Finland. The casualties is assumed (figure 1, p. 19).
older part of the city is built on the delta itself, The l-Mt and 9-Mt air burst pressure rings
with the newer residential sections leapfrogg- are shown in figures 10 and 11. Note that for
ing industrial sections, primarily to the south the 9-Mt case the l-psi ring falls completely off
and southwest (figure 8). The residential and the map, as was the case for 25 Mt on Detroit.
commercial (but not industrial) areas are The calculated casualties are illustrated on
shown on the map. figure 6 (columns 4 and 5), and are about dou-
The major difference between housing in ble those for Detroit for the comparable l-Mt
Leningrad and that in Detroit is that Leningrad case. This resuIts directly from the higher aver-
suburbs contain very few single-family resi- age population density. Other contrasts be-
dences. In the older part of Leningrad, the tween the cities can be noted; in Leningrad:
buildings have masonry load-bearing walls and People live close to where they work. In
wooden interior construction and are typically general, there is no daily cross-city move-
six to eight stories, reflecting the early code ment.
that only church spires could be higher than Buildings (except in the old part of the
the Tsars Winter Palace. The post-World War city) are unlikely to burn.
I I housing construction is 10- to 12-story apart- Apartment building spacing is so great as
ments having steel frames and precast con- to make fire spread unlikely, even though
crete walls, with the buildings comfortably a few buiIdings wouId burn down.
spaced on wide thoroughfares in open parklike There will be much less debris preventing
settings. access to damaged areas.
Since actual population density data for Transportation is by rail to the outlying
Leningrad was unavailable, simplifying demo- areas, and by an excellent metro system
graphic assumptions are used. The assumed within the city.
populated areas are shown in figure 9, broken There is only one television station in
down into l-km [0.6 mile] squares. The stated the middle of the city so mass commu-
area of Leningrad is 500 km 2 [193 mi2]. Since nications would be interrupted until other
the shaded squares cover 427 km2 [165 mi2], it broadcasting equipment was brought in
is assumed that the remaining areas are rela- and set up.
tively uninhabited at night. It has also been
assumed that in these inhabited areas the Ten 40-kt Air Bursts on Leningrad
population density is uniform at 10,000 per
km, because although the building density is Figure 12 shows one possible selection of
lower in the newer apartment areas, the build- burst points, set to have the 5-psi circles
40 The Effects of Nuclear War

Figure 8. LeningradCommercial and Residential Sections

, ,





Ch, IIA Nuclear Weapon Over Detroit or Leningrad: A Tutorial on the Effects of Nuclear Weapons . 41

Figure 9.LeningradPopulated Area




I .I I I
42 . The Effects of Nuclear War

Figure 10. Leningrad 1Mt Air Burst

Ch. IIA Nuclear Weapon Over Detroit or Leningrad: A Tutorial on the Effects of Nuclear Weapons 43

Figure 11 .Leningrad 9-Mt Air Burst

, ,

44 The Effects of Nuclear War



1 1

- . .
Ch. IIA Nuclear Weapon Over Detroit or Leningrad: A Tutorial on the Effects of Nuclear Weapons 45

touching, and with only the envelope of the 2- that fatalities are only slightly greater than for
and l-psi rings shown, Since this is an effects the l-Mt case, which corresponds well to the
discussion only, it is assumed that this precise equivalent megatonage (1.17 Mt) of the ten 40-
pattern can be achieved. The errors arising kiloton (kt) weapons. However, the number of
from neglecting the overlap of the 2- to 5-psi injured are considerably smaller because they
bands will be negligible compared to uncer- primarily occur in the 2- to 5-psi band, which is
tainties in population distribution and struc- much smalIer for the 40-kt pattern than for the
tural design. Casualty estimates are shown in single 1-Mt case.
the right hand column of figure 6 (p. 37). Note


To this point this chapter has addressed when the lethal range of effects shrink to such
nuclear effects from current strategic weapon an extent that they are comparable to the size
systems. Another nuclear weapon of concern is of urban structures. It is indeed reasonable to
one constructed by terrorists and detonated in expect that the blast effects of a smalI weapon
a major city, * A terrorist group using stolen or (5 psi at a range of only 1,450 feet) will be
diverted fission material, having general tech- severely infIuenced by nearby structures hav-
nical competence but lacking direct weapon ing comparable dimensions. Preliminary calcu-
design experience, could probably build a lations have confirmed this. For example, sup-
weapon up to several kilotons. This weapon pose a device is detonated in a van parked
would be large and heavy, certainly not the alongside a 1,000-foot high building in the mid-
often-discussed suitcase bomb, so is Iikely to dle of the block of an urban complex of rather
be transported in a van or small truck, with closely spaced streets in one direction and
threatened detonation either in the street or more broadly spaced avenues in the other di-
the parking garage of a building. rection. Whereas the 2.5-psi ring would have a
radius of 2,100 feet [640 m] detonated on a
Because of the locations and yield of this
smooth surface, it is found that this blast wave
weapon, its effects will be much less devasting
extends to 2,800 feet [850 m] directly down the
than those of high-yield, strategic weapons.
street, but to only 1,500 feet [460 m] in a ran-
The range and magnitude of all the nuclear ef-
dom direction angling through the built-up
fects will be greatly reduced by the low yields;
blocks. These calculations have been made by
in addition, the relative range of lethal effects
many approximating factors which, if more ac-
will be changed. At high yields, blast and ther-
curately represented, would probably lead to
mal burn reach out to greater distances than
an even greater reduction in range.
does the initial nuclear radiation. At 1 kt the
reverse is true; for example, 5-psi overpressure
Other weapons effects will be similarly mod-
occurs at 1,450 feet [442 m], while 600 reins of
ified from those predicted on the basis of a
initial radiation reaches out to 2,650 feet [808
relatively open target area. I n the case of ini-
m], For the 1-Mt surface burst, 5 psi occurred at
tial nuclear radiation, a lethal 600 rem would
2.7 miles and 600 reins at 1.7 miles.
be expected to extend to 2,650 feet [808 m ]
In addition to these changes in range, the from 1 kt. Because of the great absorption of
highly built-up urban structure in which the this radiation as it passes through the multiple
weapon is placed wilI significantly modify the walIs of the several buildings in a block, it is
resulting nuclear environment. This occurs expected that 600 reins will reach out no fur-
* O T A r e p o r t o n NucIear Proliferation andi Safe- ther than 800 feet [245 m], thus covering an
guards, U S Government Printing Office, June 1977, pp area onIy one-tenth as great. The thermal radi-
111-12.2 ation wilI affect only those directly exposed up
46 The Effects of Nuclear War

and down the street, while the majority of peo- In summary, the ranges of nuclear effects
ple will be protected by buildings. For the from a low-yield explosion in the confined
same reason directly initiated fires will be in- space of an urban environment will differ sig-
significant, but the problem of secondary fires nificantly from large yield effects, but in ways
starting from building damage wilI remain. The that are very difficult to estimate. Thus the
local fallout pattern also will be highly numbers of people and areas of buildings af-
distorted by the presence of the buildings. The fected are very uncertain. However, it appears
fireball, confined between the buildings, will that, with the exception of streets directly ex-
be blown up to a higher altitude than other- posed to the weapon, lethal ranges to people
wise expected, leading to reduced local fallout will be smaller than anticipated and dom-
but causing broadly distributed long-term inated by the blast-induced CO I lapse of nearby
fallout. buiIdings.
Chapter III

m . .
Chapter Ill


Effective civil defense measures have the potential to reduce drastically

casualties and economic damage in the short term, and to speed a nations economic
recovery in the long term. Civil defense seeks to preserve lives, economic capacity,
postattack viability, and preattack institutions, authority, and values. The extent to
which specific civil defense measures would succeed in doing so is controversial.
Some observers argue that U.S. civil defense promotes deterrence by increasing
the credibility of U.S. retaliation and by reducing any Soviet destructive advantage
in a nuclear war. Others, however, argue that a vigorous civil defense program would
induce people to believe that a nuclear war was survivable rather than unthink-
able, and that such a change in attitude would increase the risk of war.


Civil defense seeks to protect the popula- fects such as induced fires). Since blast is
tion, protect industry, and improve the quality usually the most difficult effect to protect
of postattack life, institutions, and values. This against, such shelters are generally evaluated
section considers several measures that sup- on blast resistance, and protection against
port these goals. other direct effects is assumed. Since most ur-
ban targets can be destroyed by an overpres-
sure of 5 to 10 psi, a shelter providing protec-
Population Protection tion against an overpressure of about 10 psi is
called a blast shelter, although many blast
People near potential targets must either
shelters offer greater protection. Other shel-
seek protective shelter or evacuate from
ters provide good protection against fallout,
threatened areas to safer surroundings; if not
but little resistance to blastsuch fallout
at risk from immediate effects, they must still
shelters are disccused in the next section.
protect themselves from fallout. Both forms of
Blast shelters generally protect against fallout,
protection depend on warning, shelter, sup-
but best meet this purpose when they contain
plies, life-support equipment (e. g., air filtra-
adequate Iife-support systems. (For example, a
tion, toilets, communication devices), instruc-
subway station without special provisions for
tion, public health measures, and provision for
water and ventiIation wouId make a good blast
rescue operations. I n addition, evacuation in-
shelter but a poor fallout shelter. )
volves transportation, This section examines
each form of protection.
Nuclear explosions produce rings of var-
ious overpressures. If the overpressure at a
Blast Shelters
given spot is very low, a blast shelter is un-
Some structures, particularly those designed necessary; if the overpressure is very high (e. g.,
for the purpose, offer substantial protection a direct hit with a surface burst), even the best
against direct nuclear effects (blast, thermal blast shelters will fail. The harder the blast
radiation, ionizing radiation, and related ef- shelter (that is, the greater the overpressure it


50 The Effects of Nuclear War

can resist), the greater the area in which it Since radiation may remain dangerous for
could save its occupants lives. Moreover, if periods from a few days to several weeks, each
the weapon height of burst (HOB) is chosen to shelter must be equipped to support its occu-
maximize the area receiving 5 to 10 psi, only a pants for at least this time. Requirements in-
very smalI area (or no area at all) receives more clude adequate stocks of food, water, and nec-
than 40 to 50 psi. Hence, to attack blast shel- essary medical supplies, sanitary facilities, and
ters of 40 to 50 psi (which is a reasonably at- other appliances. Equipment for controlling
tainable hardness), weapons must be deto- tern perature, h u m i d i t y , a n d a i r q u a l i t y
nated at a lower altitude, reducing the area standards is also critical. With many people
over which buildings, factories, etc., are de- enclosed in an airtight shelter, temperatures,
stroyed. humidity, and carbon dioxide content in-
crease, oxygen availability decreases, and fetid
The costs of blast shelters depend on the
materials accumulate. Surface fires, naturally
degree of protection afforded and on whether
hot or humid weather, or crowded conditions
the shelter is detached or is in a building con- may make things worse. If unregulated, slight
structed for other purposes. However, a large increases in heat and humidity quickly lead to
variation in costs occurs between shelters
discomfort; substantial rises in temperature,
added to existing buildings and those built as humidity, and carbon dioxide over time could
part of new construction. The installation of even cause death. Fires are also a threat to
shelters in new construction, or slanting, is
shelterers because of extreme tern peratures
preferable, but it could take as long as 20 years
(possibly exceeding 2,000 F) and carbon
for a national policy of slanting to provide ade-
monoxide and other noxious gases. A large fire
quate protection in cities.
might draw oxygen out of a shelter, suffocat-
An inexpensive way to protect population ing shelterers. World War I I experience indi-
from blast is to use existing underground facil- cates that rubble heated by a firestorm may re-
ities such as subways, where people can be main intolerably hot for several days after the
located for short periods for protection. If peo- fire is put out.
ple must remain in shelters to escape fallout,
then life-support measures requiring special Fallout Shelters
preparation are needed.
In the United States, fallout shelters have
Other lethal nuclear effects cannot be over- been identified predominantly in urban areas
looked. Although, as noted above, blast shel- (by the Defense Civil Preparedness Agency
ters usually protect against prompt radiation, (DCPA) shelter survey), to protect against fall-
the shelters must be designed to ensure that out from distant explosions, e.g., a Soviet at-
this is the case. tack on U.S. intercontinental ballistic missiles
(ICBMs). On the other hand, Soviet fallout
Another problem is protection against fall-
shelters are primarily intended for the rural
out. If a sheltered population is to survive fall-
population and an evacuated urban popula-
out, two things must be done. First, fallout
must be prevented from infiltrating shelters
through doors, ventilation, and other conduits. Fallout protection is relatively easy to
Other measures to prevent fallout from being achieve. Any shielding material reduces the
tracked or carried into a shelter must also be radiation intensity. Different materials reduce
taken. More important, the shelter must enable the intensity by differing amounts. For exam-
its occupants to stay inside as long as outside ple, the thickness (in inches) of various sub-
radiation remains dangerous; radiation doses stances needed to reduce gamma radiation by
are cumulative and a few brief exposures to a factor of 10 is: steel, 3.7; concrete, 12; earth,
outside fallout may be far more hazardous 18; water, 26; wood, 50. Consider an average
than constant exposure to a low level of radia- home basement that provides a protection fac-
tion that might penetrate into a shelter. tor (PF) of 10 (reduces the inside level of radia-
Ch. ///Civi/ Defense . 51

tion to one-tenth of that outside). Without ad-

ditional protection, a family sheltered here
could still be exposed to dangerous levels of
radiation over time. For example, after 7 days
an accumulated dose of almost 400 reins in-
side the basement would occur if the radiation
outside totaled 4,000 roentgens. This could be
attenuated to a relatively safe accumulation
of 40 reins, if about 18 inches of dirt could be
piled against windows and exposed walls be-
fore the fallout begins. Thirty-six inches of dirt
would reduce the dose to a negligible level of 4
r e i n s (400 - 100). Thus, as DCPA notes,
fallout protection is as cheap as dirt. Moving
dry, unfrozen earth to increase the protection 5

in a fallout shelter requires considerable time

and effort, if done by hand. A cubic foot of
earth weighs about 100 lbs; a cubic yard about
2,700 Ibs. Given time, adequate instructions,
and the required materials, unskilled people
can convert home basements into effective ever, few homes in the South and West have
fallout shelters. basements.

The overall effectiveness of fallout shelters, With adequate time, instructions, and mate-
therefore, depends on: (a) having an adequate rials, an expedient shelter offering rea-
shelteror enough time, information, and sonable radiation protection can be con-
materials to build or improve an expedient structed. This is a buried or semi buried struc-
shelter; (b) having sufficient food, water, and ture, shielded from radiation by dirt and other
other supplies to enable shelterers to stay shel- common materials. Expedient shelter construc-
tered until the outside fallout decays to a safe tion figures prominently in Soviet civil defense
level (they may need to remain in shelters for planning.
periods ranging from a few days to over 1
month, depending on fallout intensity); and (c)
entering the shelter promptly before absorbing
much radiation. (An individual caught by fall- Evacuation is conceptually simple: people
out before reaching shelter could have diffi- move from high-risk to low-risk areas. I n effect,
culty entering a shelter without contaminating evacuation (or crisis relocation) uses safe
it. ) distances for protection from immediate nu-
clear effects. The effectiveness of crisis reloca-
Over the years, home fallout shelters have tion is highly scenario-dependent. If relocated
received considerable attention, with the Gov- people have time to find or build shelters, if
ernment distributing plans that could be used the areas into which people evacuate do not
to make home basements better shelters. Such become new targets, and if evacuated targets
plans typically involve piling dirt against win- are attacked, evacuation will save many Iives.
dows and (if possible) on fIoors above the shel-
ter area, stocking provisions, obtaining radios Although evacuating is far less costly per
and batteries, building makeshift toilets, and capita than constructing blast shelters, plan-
so forth. Such simple actions can substantially ning and implementing an evacuation is diffi-
increase protection against radiation and may cult. First, people must be organized and trans-
slightly improve protection against blast. How- ported to relocation areas. This is a staggering
52 The Effects of Nuclear War

logistics problem. Unless people are assigned The success of evacuation in the United
to specific relocation areas, many areas could States would likely vary from region to region.
be overwhelmed with evacuees, causing severe Generally, evacuation requires little planning
health and safety problems. Unless private in sparsely populated areas. In some areas,
transportation is strictly controlled, monumen- especially the Midwest and South, evacuation
tal traffic jams could result. Unless adequate is feasible but requires special planning be-
public transportation is provided, some people cause fallout from attacks on ICBMs might
would be stranded in blast areas. Unless neces- mean longer evacuation distances. Evacuation
sary supplies are at relocation areas, people from the densely populated Boston-to-Wash-
might rebel against authority. Unless medical ington and Sacramento-to-San Diego corridors,
care is distributed among relocation areas, with their tens of millions of people and lim-
health problems would multiply. ited relocation areas, may prove impossible.

Once evacuated, people must be sheltered. The Soviet Union reportedly has plans for
They might be assigned to existing public shel- large-scale evacuation of cities, and recent de-
ters or to private homes with basements suit- bate on its effectiveness has stimulated discus-
able for shelter. If materials are available and sion of a similar plan, known as crisis reloca-
time permits, new public shelters could be tion for the United States. Some key consid-
built. Evacuees require many of the same life- erations are:
support functions described previously under Tactical warning of a missile attack does
fallout shelters; providing these in sufficient not give enough time for an evacuation.
quantity would be difficult. Evacuation plans thus assume that an in-
tense crisis will provide several days stra-
Evacuation entails many unknowns. The
tegic warning of an attack, and that the
time available for evacuation is unknown, but
leadership would make use of this warn-
extremely critical. People should be evacuated
i ng.
to areas that will receive little fallout, yet
fallout deposition areas cannot be accurately Unlike in-place blast sheltering, peace-
predicted in advance. Crisis relocation could time expenditures on evacuation are rela-
increase the perceived threat of nuclear war tively small, since most expenditures
and this might destablize a crisis. occur only when a decision has been
reached to implement plans.
Whether people would obey an evacuation Evacuation involves considerably more
order depends on many factors, especially
preattack planning than a shelter-based
public perception of a deteriorating interna-
civil defense plan, as logistical and other
tional crisis. If an evacuation were ordered and
people were willing to comply with it, would organizational requirements for moving
mill ions of people in a few days are much
time allow compliance? If the attack came
more complex. Plans must be made to
while the evacuation is underway, more peo-
care for the relocated people. People
ple might die than if evacuation had not been
must know where to go. Transportation or
attempted. Sufficiency of warning depends on
evacuation routes must be provided. A re-
circumstances; a U.S. President might order an
cent survey of the U.S. population re-
evacuation only if the Soviets had started one.
vealed that many would spontaneously
In this case, the United States might have less
evacuate in a severe crisis, which could in-
evacuation time than the Soviets. The abun-
terfere with a planned evacuation.
dance of transportation in the United States
could in theory permit faster evacuation, but Some U.S. analysts argue that detailed
panic, traffic jams, and inadequate planning Soviet evacuation plans, together with evi-
could nullify this advantage. Disorder and dence of practical evacuation preparations, in-
panic, should they occur, would impede evac- dicate a reasonable evacuation capability,
uation. Others claim that actual Soviet capabilities
Ch. IllCivil Defense 53

are far less than those suggested in official industrial processes, speedy damage control,
plans and that, in particular, an actual evacua- and plant repair.
tion under crisis conditions would result in a
There is no practicable way to protect an in-
mixture of evacuation according to plan for
dustrial facility that is targeted by a nuclear
some, delay for others, and utter chaos in some
weapon with 1980s accuracy. Protective meas-
places. In any case, a large evacuation has
ures might, however, be helpful at industrial
never been attempted by the United States.
facilities that are not directly targeted, but
The extent of Soviet evacuation exercises is a
that are near other targets.
matter of controversy.
Some equipment within structures can be
Crisis relocation of large populations would
protected against blast, fire, and debris with
have major economic impacts. These are the
suitable measures. Other equipment, especial-
subject of a current DCPA study in which the
ly costly and critical equipment, and finished
Treasury, Federal Reserve Board, and Federal
products, can be sheltered in semiburied struc-
Preparedness Agency are participating. Results
tures and other protective facilities. A recent
to date indicate that economic impacts of relo- study demonstrated that special hardening
cation, followed by crisis resolution and return
measures could save some machinery at blast
of evacuees, could continue for 1 to 3 years, overpressures higher than necessary to destroy
but that appropriate Government policies the building in which the machinery is housed.
could significantly reduce such impacts. If However, it is unknown whether the amount of
blast shelters for key workers are built in risk
equipment that could actually be protected
areas, and if workers are willing to accept the would make much difference in recovery.
risks, essential industries couId be kept func-
tioning while most people were in relocation Another method of protecting industrial
areas. Such a program would substantially re- capabilities is the maintenance of stock piIes of
duce the economic impacts of an extended critical equipment or of finished goods. Stock-
crisis relocation. piling will not provide a continuing output of
the stockpiled goods, but could ensure the
availability of critical items until their produc-
Protection of Industry and tion could be restarted. Stockpiles can ob-
Other Economic Resources viously be targeted if their locations are
known, or might suffer damage if near other
Efforts to preserve critical economic assets, potential targets.
and thereby accelerate postattack recovery,
could take several forms. For example, if there Finally, dispersal of industry, both within a
is warning, railroad rolling stock might be given facility consisting of a number of build-
moved from urban classification yards into ings and between facilities, can decrease dam-
rural locations, perhaps saving many cars and age to buildings from weapons aimed at other
their cargo. Some industrial equipment and buildings. A Soviet text on civil defense notes
tooling might be protected by burial and sand- that:
bagging. Other industrial facilities, such as Measures may be taken nationally to limit
petroleum refineries and chemical plants, may the concentration of industry in certain re-
be impossible to protect. Industrial defense gions. A rational and dispersed location of in-
measures include measures to make buildings dustries in the territories of our country is of
or machinery more resistant to blast pressure great national economic importance, primari-
(hardening), dispersal of individual sites and of ly from the standpoint of an accelerated eco-
mobile assets (e. g., transport, tools, equip- nomic development, but also from the stand-
ment, fuel), proliferation of redundant and
T. K, Jones, lndustrlal Survival and Recovery After
complementary capabilities, and plans to min- Nuclear Attack A Report to the Joint Committee on De-
imize disruption to an economy and its compo- fense Production, U S Congress (Seattle, Wash The
nents in wartime by coordinated shutdown of Boeing Aerospace Co , November 1976)
54 The Elfects of Nuclear War

point of organizing protection from weapons ilarly, the United States has no directed policy
of mass destruction. 2 of decentralization, and other facts suggest
However, there is little evidence that the that nuclear war is not a significant civil plan-
U.S.S.R. has adopted industrial dispersion as ning determinant. There are those who reason
national policy. Despite reports of Soviet in- that this disregard for many of the conse-
dustrial decentralization over the last decade quences of nuclear war indicates that policy-
or so, Soviet industry appears more concen- makers betieve nuclear war is a very low possi-
trated than ever. An excellent example is the bility.
Kama River truck and auto facility, a giant
complex the size of Manhattan Island where Planning for Postattack Activities
about one-fifth of al I Soviet motor vehicles is
produced. Clearly, Soviet planners have The economic and social problems follow-
chosen industrial efficiency and economies of ing a nuclear attack cannot be foreseen clearly
scale over civil defense considerations. Sim- enough to permit drafting of detailed recovery
plans. In contrast, plans can be made to pre-
2P. T, E gorov, 1 A S hl yakov, and N. 1. A Iabi n, Civi/ De-
fense. Translated by the Scientific Translation Service serve the continuity of government, and both
(Springfield, Va : Department of Commerce, National the United States and the Soviet Union surely
Technical Information Service, December 1973), p 101. have such plans.


U.S. Civil Defense specter of radioactive fallout blanketing large

areas of the country. Previously, civil defense
U.S. attitudes have been ambivalent toward could be conceptualized as moving people a
civil defense ever since the Federal Civil De- short distance out of cities, while the rest of
fense Act of 1950 responded to the first Soviet the country would be unscathed and able to
test of atomic bombs in 1949. Indeed, much of help the target cities. Fallout meant that large
the U.S. civil defense was a reaction to exter- areas of the countrythe location of which
nal factors rather than part of a carefully- was unpredictable would become contam-
thought-through program. The duck and cov- inated, people would be forced to take shelter
er program and the evacuation route pro- in those areas, and their inhabitants, thus
gram, both of the early 1950s, responded to pinned down, would be unable to offer much
the threat of Soviet atomic bombs carried by help to attacked cities for several weeks.
manned bombers. Lack of suitable protection
against fire and blast led to plans for rapid The advent of ICBMs necessitated further
evacuation of cities during the several hours changes. Their drastically reduced warning
separating radar warning and the arrival of times precluded evacuations on radar warning
Soviet bombers. of attack.
The first Soviet test of thermonuclear weap- With previous plans made useless by ad-
ons in 1953 necessitated changes in these vances in weapons technology, the United
plans. The much higher yield of these weapons States cast around for alternative plans. One
meant that short-distance evacuations and approach was to identify and stock fallout
modestly hard blast shelters in cities were inef- shelters, while recognizing the impracticability
fective for protecting people, and that simply of protecting people from blast. After the
ducking in school corridors, while perhaps Berlin crisis of 1961, the President initiated a
better than nothing, was not part of a serious program to provide fallout shelters for the en-
civil defense plan. H-bombs also raised the tire population. The National Shelter Survey
Ch. IllCivil Defense 55

Program was commenced on a crash basis. The Civil Protection. -The United States is look-
President proposed: ing increasingly at crisis relocation (CR), under
which city-dwellers would move to rural
1. the survey, identification, and stocking of
host areas when an attack appeared likely.
existing shelters;
CR would require several days of warning, so it
2. the subsidization of fallout shelter in-
would be carried out during a crisis rather than
stalIation in new construction; and
3. the construction of single-purpose fallout on radar warning of missile launch. The United
shelters where these were needed. States has conducted surveys to identify
potential fallout shelters in host areas, and
Only the first step in this program was author- blast and fallout shelters in risk areas. Through
ized. The Government also urged people to FY 1971, about 118,000 buildings had been
build home fallout shelters. marked as shelters; about 95,000 other build-
ings have been identified as potential shelters
The civil defense program was broadened in
but have not been marked. Marking would be
the early 1970s to include preparedness for
done in crises. In the early 1960s, the Federal
peacetime as well as wartime disasters. The
Government purchased austere survival sup-
1970s also saw a new emphasis on operational
plies for shelters. The shelf life of these sup-
capabilities of al I available assets, including
plies has expired; shelter stocking is now to be
warning systems, shelters, radiological detec-
accomplished during a crisis.
tion instruments and trained personnel, police
and fire-fighting forces, doctors and hospitals,
and experienced management. This develop- Direction and Control.The Federal Govern-
ment program was called On-Site Assistance. ment has several teletype, voice, and radio
systems for communicating in crises between
I n the mid-1970s, contingency planning to DCPA, FDAA, and FPA headquarters, regional
evacuate city and other high-risk populations offices, States, and Canada. State and local
during a period of severe crisis was initiated. governments are planning to integrate commu-
At present, U.S. civil defense has the follow- nication systems into this net. DCPA has eight
ing plans and capabilities: regions, each with emergency operating cen-
ters (EOCs). Six of these centers are hardened
Organization. The Federal civil defense against nuclear blast. Forty-three States have
function has been repeatedly reorganized EOCs, and EOCs with fallout protection are
since the Federal Civil Defense Act of 1950. operational or under development in locales
The most recent organization gave prime re- including about half the population.
sponsibility for civil defense to the Defense
Civil Preparedness Agency (DCPA), housed in Attack Warning.Warning can be passed
the Defense Department. The Federal Pre- over the National Warning System to over
paredness Agency (FPA) in the General Serv- 1,200 Federal, State, and local warning points,
ices Administration conducts some planning which operate 24 hours a day. Once warning
for peacetime nuclear emergencies, economic has reached local levels, it is passed to the
crises, continuity of Government following a public by sirens or other means. Almost half of
nuclear attack, and other emergencies. The the U.S. population is in areas that could
Federal Disaster Assistance Administration receive outdoor warning within 15 minutes of
(FDAA), in the Department of Housing and Ur- the issue of a national warning. Dissemination
ban Development, is concerned with peace- of warning to the public, however, is inade-
time disaster response. In 1978, Congress quate in many places.
assented to a Presidential proposal to reorga-
nize civil defense and peacetime disaster func- Emergency Public Information.Fallout pro-
tions into a single agency, the Federal Emer- tection, emergency power generators, and re-
gency Management Agency, which will incor- mote units have been provided for radio sta-
porate DC PA, FPA, FDAA, and other agencies. tions in the Emergency Broadcast System, to
56 The Effects of Nuclear War

permit broadcast of emergency information 3, U.S. civil defense capability is weakened

under fallout conditions. About a third of the because some elements are in place while
stations are in high-risk areas and could be others are not or have not been main-
destroyed by blast. A program has been initi- tained. Shelters will not support life if
ated to protect 180 stations from electromag- their occupants have no water. Evacua-
netic pulse (EM P). About one-third of the more tion plans will save fewer people if host
than 5,000 localities participating in the civil areas have inadequate shelter spaces and
defense program have reported development supplies, or if people are poorly distrib-
of plans to provide the public with information uted among towns.
in emergencies. 4. Faced with drastic technological change,
moral and philosophical questions about
Radiological Defense. This function encom- the desirability of civil defense, and budg-
passes radiological detection instruments, etary constraints, Federal plans have been
communication, plans and procedures, and marked by vacillation, shifts in direction,
personnel trained to detect and evaluate radio- and endless reorganization.
logical hazards. Between FY 1955-74, the Fed-
eral Government had procured about 1.4 mil-
lion rate meters, 3.4 million dose meters, and
Soviet Civil Defense
related equipment. Effective radiological de-
fense would require an estimated 2.4 million Soviet civil defense has faced the same tech-
people to be trained as radiological monitors nical chalIenges as the United States atomic
in a crisis. bombs, hydrogen bombs fallout, ICBMs, lim-
ited warning, and so on. The Soviet Union has
Citizen Training. The civil defense program consistently devoted more resources to civil
once provided substantial training for the pub- defense than has the United States, and has
l. i c v i a n e w s m e d i a been more willing to make and follow long-
must now be relied on to educate citizens on term plans. However, it is not known how
hazards and survival actions. DCPA offers Soviet leaders evaluate the effectiveness of
classroom and home study training for civil de- their civil defense.
fense personnel.
The Soviet civil defense organization is a
Several points emerge from this discussion: part of the Ministry of Defense and is headed
by Deputy Minister Colonel-General A. Al-
1. On paper, civil defense looks effective.
tunin. Permanent full-time staff of the organ i-
The United States has more than enough
zaiion is believed to number over 100,000.
identified fallout shelter spaces for the en-
Some civil defense training is compulsory for
tire population, which include under-
all Soviet citizens, and many also study first
ground parking, subways, tunnels, and
aid. There has also been a large shelter-build-
deep basement potential blast shelters.
ing program.
The United States has a vast network of
highways and vehicles; every holiday The Soviets reportedly have an extensive ur-
weekend sees a substantial urban evacua- ban evacuation plan. Each urban resident is
tion. CB and other radios can aid commu- assigned to a specific evacuation area, located
nication after an attack. The United on COIIective farms; each farmer has instruc-
States has enormous resources (food, tions and a list of the people he is to receive. If
medical supplies, electrical-generating fallout protection is not available, it is planned
capability, etc. ) beyond the minimum that simple expedient shelters would be con-
needed for survival. structed quickly. Soviet plans recommend that
2., However, no one at all thinks that the shelters be located at least 40 km [25 miles]
United States has an effective civil de- from the city district to provide sufficient pro-
fense. tection against the effects of a l-Mt weapon
Ch. IllCivil Defense . 57

exploding at a distance of 10 to 20 km [6 to 12 days, with as much as a week required for full

miles]. evacuation of the largest cities
Soviet measures to protect the economy
In July 1978, the Central Intelligence Agency could not prevent massive industrial dam-
(CIA) released its unclassified study, Soviet a g e
Civil Defense. 3 In brief, the report finds that (Regarding postattack recovery), the coor-
Soviet civil defense is an ongoing nationwide dination of requirements with available sup-
program under military control. It notes sev- plies and transportation is a complex problem
eral motivations for the Soviet program: the for Soviet planners even in peacetime, let
traditional Soviet emphasis on homeland de- alone following a large-scale nuclear attack
fense, to convince potential adversaries they Assessing the effectiveness of Soviet civil
cannot defeat the Soviet Union, to increase defense, the CIA study found that a worst case
Soviet strength should war occur, to help main- attack could kilI or injure welI over 100 milI ion
tain the logistics base for continuing a war ef- people, but many leaders would survive; with a
fort following nuclear attack, to save people few days for evacuation and shelter, casualties
and resources, and to promote postattack re- could be reduced by more than 50 percent;
covery. It observes that Soviet civil defense is and with a week for preattack planning, So-
not a crash effort, but its pace increased begin- viet civil defenses could reduce casualties to
ning in the late 1960 s. It points to several dif- the low tens of milIions.
ficulties with the Soviet program: bureaucratic
problems, apathy, little protection of econom- The U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament
ic installations, and little dispersal of industry. Agency (AC DA) released An Analysis of Civil
Defense in Nuclear War in December 1978.4
According to the report, the specific goals of This study concluded that Soviet civil defense
Soviet civil defense are to protect the leader- could do Iittle to mitigate the effects of a ma-
ship, essential workers, and others, in that pri- jor attack. Blast shelters might reduce fatal-
ority order; to protect productivity; and to sus- ities to 80 percent of those in an unsheltered
tain people and prepare for economic recov- case, but this could be offset by targeting addi-
ery following an attack. In assessing Soviet ef- tional weapons (e. g., those on bombers and
forts to meet these goals, the CIA found: submarines that would be alerted during a
crisis) against cities. Evacuation might reduce
The Soviets probably have sufficient blast-
shelter space in hardened command posts for fatalities to a range of 25 million to 35 million,
virtually all the leadership elements at al I but if the United States were to target the
levels (about 110,000 people) Shelters at evacuated population, some 50 million might
key economic installations could accommo- be killed. Furthermore, civil defense could do
date about 12 to 24 percent of the total work little to protect the Soviet economy, so many
f o r c e evacuees and millions of injured could not be
A minimum of 10 to 20 percent of the total supported after the attack ended.
population in urban areas (including essential
workers) could be accommodated at present The sharp disagreement about Soviet civil
in blast-resistant shelters defense capability revolves around several key
The critical decision to be made by the issues:
Soviet leaders in terms of sparing the popula-
tion would be whether or not to evacuate Can the Soviets follow their stated civil defense
cities. Only by evacuating the buIk of the ur- plans? Some believe that the Soviets would fill
ban population could they hope to achieve a their urban blast shelters to maximum occu-
marked reduction in the number of urban pancy rather than leave unevaluated people
casualties. An evacuation of urban areas could without protection and would evacuate all
probably be accomplished in two or three persons for whom no urban shelter spaces
Sov/et Civil Defense (Washington, D C Director o f An Analysls of CIVII Defense In Nuclear War (Wash-
Central Intelligence, July 1978), the text quotation below ington, D C U S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agen-
IS from pp 2-3 cy, December 1978)

1 -! -
58 The Effects of Nuclear war

were available. Others believe that administra- sumes that from one-third to two-thirds of the
tive confusion and other difficulties might ren- evacuees would have little protection against
der the Soviets far more vulnerable in practice. fallout. The two cases are not necessarily ex-
clusive, since the ability to dig in depends on
How widely would evacuees be dispersed? It
assumptions, especially time available for
is obvious that the more widely dispersed an
preparations before an attack. Some assume a
urban population is, the fewer casualties an at-
lengthy and deepening crisis would precede
tack on cities will produce. It is equally ob-
nuclear strikes. Others believe that error or
vious that the more time there is for an evacua-
miscalculation would lead to nuclear war,
tion, the more widely people can disperse.
leaving the United States or the Soviet Union
Nevertheless, there is great uncertainty over
unprepared and not having ordered evac-
how well an evacuation would perform in
uation. I n addition, should an attack occur
practice. A Boeing study estimates that if ur-
when the earth is frozen or muddy, construc-
ban dwellers walked for a day away from the
tion of expedient shelters would be difficult.
cities, the population of cities would be more
or less distributed over a circle of radius 30 How effective is Soviet industrial hardening?
miles [48.3 km]. 5 If they did not dig shelters, a Soviet civil defense manuals provide instruc-
U.S. attack would kill about 27 percent of the tions for the last-minute hardening of key in-
Soviet population; if they dug expedient shel- dustrial equipment in order to protect it from
ters, the attack would kill about 4 percent. If blast, falling debris, and fires. A considerable
the Soviets fulIy implemented their evacuation controversy has developed in the United States
plans but the evacuees were not protected as to how effective such a program would be.
from fallout, then 8 percent of the total popu- The Boeing Company and the Defense Nuclear
lation would die; if they constructed hasty Agency carried out a number of tests that led
shelters, 2 percent would die. AC DA, however, them to conclude that techniques similar to
argues that even if the Soviet Union is totally those described in Soviet Civil Defense manu-
successful in implementing its evacuation, the als for protecting industrial equipment appear
United States could, if the objective is to kill to hold great promise for permitting early
people, use its reserve weapons against the repair of industrial machinery and its restora-
evacuated population and ground burst its tion to production. Others have challenged
weapons, thus inflicting from 70 million to 85 this conclusion: for example, the ACDA civil
milIion fatalities. defense study concluded that attempts to
harden above-ground facilities are a futile ex-
How well would evacuees be protected from
ercise, and that even buried facilities which
fallout? Some believe that Soviet evacuees
are targeted cannot survive.
could be fully protected against very high
radiation levels if they are allowed a 1- to 2 - To understand this issue, one must recog-
week preattack surge period. (Tests con- nize that it is virtually impossible to harden an
ducted by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory economic asset so that it would survive if it
have shown, for example, that American fam- were directly targeted. By lowering the height
ilies can construct adequate fallout shelters in of burst, the maximum overpressure can be in-
24 to 36 hours, if they are issued the necessary creased (at a small sacrifice to the area cov-
tools and instructions.) b The ACDA study as- ered by moderate overpressures), and even
missile silos can be destroyed by sufficiently
5 T K. Jones, Effect of Evacuation and Sheltering on
Potential Fatalities From a Nuclear Exchange (Seattler
accurate weapons. However, many economic
Wash.: The Boeing Aerospace Co,, 1977), targets are relatively close together (for exam-
6 S J Condie, et al , Feasibility of Citizen Construction ple, separate buildings in a single factory), and
of Expedient Fallout Shelters (Oak Ridge, Term,: Oak it iS possible and efficient to aim a single
Ridge National Laboratory, August 1978), See also R. W,
Kindig, Field Testing and Evaluation of Expedient Shel-
ters (Denver, Colo,: University of Colorado, February Edwin N, York, Industrial Survival/Recovery (Seattle,
1978) Wash.: The Boeing Aerospace Co., undated).

Ch. IllCivil Defense 59

weapon so that it destroys a number of targets How much hardening could be done in
at once. If each target is adequately hardened, the days before an attack?
then the attacker must either increase the
number or yield of weapons used, or else ac- . Would the United States target additional
cept less damage to the lower priority targets, or larger weapons to overcome the effects
However, the practicability of hardening entire of hardening?
installations to this extent is questionable, and
the more likely measure would be to harden To what extent would the survival of the
key pieces of machinery, The uncertainties most important pieces of machinery in the
about the Soviet program include the follow- less important Soviet factories contribute
ing: to economic recovery?


These pages have provided a brief descrip- What impact would various kinds of civil
tion of civil defense as it might affect the im- defense measures have on peacetime di-
pact of nuclear war. However, no effort has plomacy or crisis stability?
been made to answer the following key ques- What civil defense measures would be ap-
tions: propriate if nuclear war were considered
WouId a civiI defense program on a large likely in the next few years?
scaIe make a big difference, or onIy a mar- What kind and size of civil defense pro-
ginal difference, in the impact of a nucle- gram might be worth the money it would
ar war on civil society? cost ?
Chapter IV

Page Page
overview **************************
63 The First Few Days . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96
Case 2: A Soviet Attack on U.S. Oil Refineries 64 The Shelter Period (Up to a Month). . . . . 97
The First Hour: Immediate Effects . . . . . 65 The Recuperation Period . . . . . . . . . . . . 97
Fatalities and Injuries . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69 Case4: A large U.S. Attack on Soviet Military
Petroleum. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69 and Economic Targets * * * * * * * * * * * * 100

Electric Power. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77 The First Few Hours. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101

Transportation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 The First Few Days . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102
Casualty Handling. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 The Shelter period. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 104
Military. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72 Recuperation . . . . . . . . ., . . . . . . . . . . 105
Other. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72
Reaction: The First Week . . . . . . . . . . . . 72
Recovery. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73
Long-Term Effects. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74 Page
Case 2: A U.S. Attack on Soviet Oil Refineries 75
6. Energy Production and Distribution
Immediate Effects: The First Hour . . . . . 76
Components . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65
Reaction: The First Week . . . . . . . . . . . . 77
7. U.S. Refinery Locations and Refining
Recovery. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78
Capacity by Rank Order. . . . . . . . . . . . 67
Long-Term Effects. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80
8. Summary of U.S.S.R. Attack on the
Case 3: A Counterforce Attack Against the
United States . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67
United States * * * * e * * o * * * * * * * * * * * * *
9. Electric Powerplants in Philadelphia. . . 71
Prompt Effects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81
10. Summary of U. S. Attack on U.S.S.R. . . . 76
The Period Before Fallout Deposition. 81
11. Approximate Distance of Various Effects
Casualty Estimates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83
From Selected Nuclear Air Bursts . . . . . 77
The Contamination Period . . . . . . . . . . . 86
Economic Disruption . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88
Recuperation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88 FIGURES
Long-Term Effects. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90 Page
Case 3: A Comterforce Attack Against the 13. Approximate Footprint CoverageU.S.
Soviet Union . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90 and Soviet attack . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
The First Day. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90 14. Philadelphia and Surrounding Counties 70
The Shelter Period. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91 15. Counterforce Targets in the United
Recuperation . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . 93 States . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82
Long Term Effects. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94 16. Expected Casualties as a Function of
Case 4: A large soviet Attack On U.S. Military Typical Monthly Winds Resulting From an
and EconomicTargets 8 * * * * * * * * * * * * *
94 Attack on Selected Military Targets in
The First Few Hours. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95 the United States . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85
Chapter IV


The following pages present descriptions of three *cases of nuclear attacks.

(The tutorial on nuclear effectschapter H-was the first of our four cases.) As men-
tioned in the Executive Summary, these cases do not necessarily represent prob-
able kinds of nuclear attacks; they were chosen rather to shed light on the way in
which different types of attacks could have differing effects on the civilian popula-
tion, economy, and society. Moreover, each case is considered in isolationevents
that could lead up to such an attack are deliberately ignored (because their prediction
is impossible), and it is assumed (although that assumption is questionable at best)
that the attack described is not followed by further nuclear attacks.
Each case considers first a Soviet attack on the United States, and then a U.S. at-
tack on the Soviet Union. These attacks are similar in that they attack similar target
sets, but different in detail because both the weapons available to the attacker and
the geography of the victim are different. It should be emphasized that this discus-
sion is not suggesting that in the real world an attack would be followed by a mirror-
image retaliation; rather, it is looking at similar attacks so as to highlight the asym-
metries in the ways in which the United States and the Soviet Union are vulnerable.
To save space, it is assumed that the reader will read the Soviet attack on the United
States in each case before turning to the U.S. attack on the Soviet Union, and repeti-
tion has been minimized.
The analyses that follow are much more like sketches than detailed portraits.
Precise prediction of the future of the United States or the Soviet Union is impossible
even without taking into account something as unprecedented as a nuclear attack. A
detailed study would say more about the assumptions used than about the impact of
nuclear war. What is possible, and what this report tries to do, is to indicate the kinds
of effects that would probably be most significant, and to comment on the major

The following pages discuss the impact on target because it is vital, vulnerable, and
civil i an societies of: concentrated in both countries. It is as-
sumed that the attack would be planned
A Iimited attack on industrial targets. For
without any effort either to minimize or to
this case the hypothesis was an attack
maximize civiIian casualties.
that would be limited to 10 strategic nu-
clear delivery vehicles (S NDVs) (i. e., 10 A large counterforce attack. The possibil-
missiles or bombers, in this case Soviet ities considered included both an attack
SS-18 intercontinental ballistic missiles on ICBM silos only (a case that has gained
(I CBMs), and U.S. Poseidon submarine- some notoriety as a result of assertions by
Iaunched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and some that the United States may become
Minuteman Ill ICBMs), and that would be vulnerable to such an attack) and an at-
directed at the oil refining industry. Oil tack on silos, missile submarine bases, and
refining was chosen as the hypothetical bomber bases (which some characterize

64 The Effects of Nuclear War

as the least irrational way to wage a stra- terrentthe climax of an escalation

tegic nuclear war). The analysis draws on process. The description of the results of
several previous studies that made vary- this attack draws upon several previous
ing assumptions about attack design, studies that made differing assumptions
weapon size, targets attacked, and vulner- about the number of weapons used and
ability of the population; the ways i n the precise choice of targets, but such
which variations in these assumptions af- variations are useful in indicating the
fect the calculations of estimated fatal- range of possibilities. However, deliberate
ities are discussed. efforts to kill as many people as possible
are not assumed, which would lead to
A large attack against a range of military more immediate deaths (perhaps 10 mil-
and economic targets. This attack is in- lion to 20 million more) than targeting
tended to approximate the ultimate de- economic and military facilities.


This case is representative of a kind of nu- in the U.S. energy system forces the selection
clear attack that, as far as we know, has not of a system subset that is critical, vulnerable to
been studied elsewhere in recent yearsa a small attack, and would require a long time
limited attack on economic targets. This sec- to repair or replace.
tion investigates what might happen if the
Soviet Union attempted to infIict as much eco- OTA and the contractor jointly determined
nomic damage as possible with an attack that petroleum refining facilities most nearly
limited to 10 SNDVs, in this case 10 SS-18 met these criteria. The United States has about
ICBMs carrying multiple independently target- 300 major refineries. Moreover, refineries are
able reentry vehicles (MlRVs). An OTA con- relatively vulnerable to damage from nuclear
tractor designed such an attack, operating on blasts. The key production components are the
instructions to limit the attack to 10 missiles, distillation units, cracking units, cooling
to create hypothetical economic damage that towers, power house, and boiler plant. Frac-
would take a very long time to repair, and to tionating towers, the most vulnerable compo-
design the attack without any effort either to nents of the distillation and cracking units, col-
maximize or to minimize human casualties. lapse and overturn at relatively low winds and
(The contractors report is available separate- overpressures. Storage tanks can be I if ted from
ly.) The Department of Defense then calcu- their foundations by similar effects, suffering
lated the immediate results of this hypotheti- severe damage and loss of contents and raising
cal attack, using the same data base, method- the probabilities of secondary fires and explo-
ology, and assumptions as they use for their sions.
own studies. *
MlRVed missiles are used to maximize dam-
Given the limitation of 10 ICBMs, the most age per missile. The attack uses eight l-mega-
vulnerable element of the U.S. economy was ton (Mt) warheads on each of 10 SS-18 ICBMs,
judged to be the energy supply system. As which is believed to be a reasonable choice
table 6 indicates, the number of components given the hypothetical objective of the attack.
Like all MIRVed missiles, the SS-18 has limita-
*The Office of Technology Assessment wishes to tions of footprint the area within which
thank the Defense Civil Preparedness Agency for their
the warheads from a single missile can be
timely and responsive help in calculations related to this
case, the Command and Control Technical Center per- aimed. Thus, the Soviets could strike not any
formed similar calculations regarding a similar U S at- 80 refineries but only 8 targets in each of 10
tack on the Soviet Union footprints of roughly 125,000 mi 2 [32,375,000
Ch. IVThree Attack Cases 65

February 1976

hectares], The SS-18s footprint size, and the ons are assumed detonated at an altitude that
tendency of U.S. refineries to be located in wouId maximize the area receiving an over-
clusters near major cities, however, make the pressure of at least 5 psi. This overpressure was
SS-18 appropriate. The footprints are shown in selected as reasonable to destroy refineries.
figure 13. Table 7 lists U.S. refineries by capaci- Consequences of using ground bursts are
ty; and table 8 lists the percentage of U.S. re- noted where relevant.
fining capacity destroyed for each footprint.

The attack uses eighty l-Mt weapons; it The First Hour: Immediate Effects
strikes the 77 refineries having the largest
capacity, and uses the 3 remaining warheads The attack succeeds. The 80 weapons de-
stroy 64 percent of U.S. petroleum refining
as second weapons on the largest refineries in
the appropriate missile footprints, In perform-
ing these calculations, each weapon that deto- The attack causes much collateral (i. e., unin-
nates over a refinery is assumed to destroy its tended) damage. Its only goal was to maximize
target. This assumption is reasonable in view economic recovery time. While it does not
of the vulnerability of refineries and the fact seek to kill people, it does not seek to avoid
that a l-Mt weapon produces 5-psi overpres- doing so. Because of the high-yield weapons
sure out to about 4.3 miIes [6.9 km]. Thus, dam- and the proximity of the refineries to large
age to refineries is mainly a function of num- cities, the attack kills over 5 million people if
bers of weapons, not their yield or accuracy; all weapons are air burst. Because no fireball
collateral damage, however, is affected by all wouId touch the ground, this attack wouId pro-
three factors. it is also assumed that every duce little fallout. If all weapons were ground
warhead detonates over its target. In the real burst, 2,883,000 fatalities and 312,000 fallout
world, some weapons would not explode or fatalities are calculated for a total of
wouId be off course. The Soviets could, how- 3,195,000. Table 8 lists fatalities by footprint.
ever, compensate for failures of launch vehi-
cles by readying more than 10 ICBMs for the The Defense Civil Preparedness Agency
attack and programming missiles to replace (DC PA) provided fatality estimates for this at-
any failures in the initial 10. FinalIy, all weap- tack. DCPA used the following assumptions re-
66 The Effects of Nuclear War

Figure 13



Approximate footprint coverage of U.S. attack

Approximate footprint coverage of Soviet attack

Ch. IV Three Attack Cases 67

Table 7.U.S. Refinery Locations and Refining Capacity by Rank Order

Rank Percent Cumulative Rank Percent Cumulative
order Location capacity percent capacity order Location capacity percent capacity
1 3.6 3,6 34 07 47,9
2 2.9 6.4 35 07 48,6
3 2.3 8.7 36 07 49.3
4 2,1 10.8 37 07 50.0
5 2.1 12,9 38 0.7 506
6 2,0 14,9 39 07 51.3
7 2,0 16,9 40 0.6 51.9
8 1,9 18,8 41 06 52,5
9 19 20.7 42 06 531
10 1.8 22.5 43 0.6 537
11 1.6 24,1 44 06 543
12 1.6 25.7 45 06 549
13 1,5 27,3 46 05 554
14 1.6 28,9 47 0.5 559
15 1.3 30.1 48 0.5 56,5
16 1,2 31.3 49 0.5 57.0
17 1.1 32.4 50 05 57.5
18 1.1 33.5 51 05 58.0
19 1.1 34.6 52 05 585
20 1.0 357 53 05 59,0
21 10 36.7 54 05 595
22 10 37.7 55 05 600
23 10 38.7 56 0.5 60.4
24 0.9 39.6 57 0.5 609
25 0.9 40,6 58 04 613
26 09 41,5 59 04 61 7
27 09 424 60 0.4 622
28 0.9 433 61 41 66.3
29 08 44,1 62 1,6 679
30 0.8 449 63 05 68.4
31 08 457 64 03 68.7
32 0.8 46,5 65 313 1000
33 07 47.2
asum of all refineries m the mdlcated geographic area
bForelgn Irade zone only
c[n~lude~ summary data from ali rehnerles with capacity less than 75000 bblfday 224 refineries Included
SOURCE National Petroleum Refiners Assoclahon

Table 8. Summary of U.S.S.R. Attack on the United States

Totals ., ., ., 80 63.7 NA 5,031

aEMT = Equlvalenl megatons
bNA = Not applicable
68 The Effects o/ Nuclear War
. .
Ch. IV Three Attack Cases 69

garding the protective postures of the pop- would be destroyed by the attack, and many of
ulation in its calculations: therest would be for lack of feed stocks.
III the attack aimed only at refineries
1. Ten percent of the population in large
would cause much damage to the entire petro-
cities (above 50,000) spontaneously evac-
leum industry, and to other assets as well.
uated beforehand due to rising tensions
and crisis development; All economic damage was not calculated
2. Home basements are used as fallout shel- from this attack, because no existing data base
ters as are such public shelters as sub- would support reasonably accurate calcula-
ways; tions. Instead, the issue is approached by using
3. People are distributed among fallout shel- Philadelphia to illustrate the effects of the
ters of varying protection in proportion to attack on large cities. Philadelphia contains
the number of shelter spaces at each level two major refineries that supply much of the
of protection rather than occupying the Northeast corridors refined petroleum. In the
best spaces first; attack, each was struck with a l-Mt weapon.
4. The remaining people are in buildings that For reference, figure 14 is a map of Philadel-
offer the same blast protection as a single- phia. Since other major U.S. cities are near tar-
story home (2 to 3 psi); radiation protec- geted refineries, similar damage could be ex-
tion factors were commensurate with the pected for Houston, Los Angeles, and Chicago.
type of structures occupied.
Fatalities and Injuries
These assumptions affect the results for rea-
sons noted in chapter III. Other uncertainties The Defense Civil Preparedness Agency
affect the casualties and damage. These in- (DCPA) provided not only the number of peo-
clude fires, panic, inaccurate reentry vehicles ple killed within each of the 2-minute grid cells
(RVs) detonating away from intended targets, in the Philadelphia region but also the original
time of day, season, local weather, etc. Such number of people within each cell. These re-
uncertainties were not incorporated into the sults are summarized in the following table for
calculations, but have consequences noted in distances of 2 and 5 miles [3 and 8 km] from
chapters I I and I I 1. the detonations:
The attack also causes much collateral eco- Deaths From Philadelphia Attack
nomic damage. Because many U.S. refineries Distance from Original Number Percent
are located near cities and because the Soviets detonation population killed killed
are assumed to use relatively large weapons, 2 ml 155,000 135,000 87
5 ml 5,785,000 410,000 52
the attack would destroy many buildings and
other structures typical of any large city. The Detailed examination of the large-scale map
attack would also destroy many economic fa- also indicates the magnitude of the problems
cilities associated with refineries, such as rail- and the resources available to cope with them.
roads, pipelines, and petroleum storage tanks. These are briefly discussed by category.
While the attack would leave many U.S. ports
unscathed, it wouId damage many that are Petroleum
equipped to handle oil, greatly reducing U.S. Local production, storage, and distribution
petroleum importing capability. Similarly, of petroleum are destroyed. 1 n addition to the
many petrochemical plants use feedstocks two refineries, nearly all of the oil storage
from refineries, so most plants producing com- tanks are in the immediate target area. Presum-
plex petrochemicals are located near refin- ably, reserve supplies can be brought to Phila-
eries; indeed, 60 percent of petrochemicals delphia from other areas unless as is likely
produced in the United States are made in they are also attacked. While early overland
Texas gulf coast plants. l Many of these plants shipment by rail or tank truck into north and
Bill C u r r y , Gulf PIants Combed for Carcinogens, northeast Philadelphia should be possible,
Wash/ngton Post, Feb 19, 1979, page A3 water transport up the Delaware River may not
70 The Effects of Nuclear War

Figure 14. Philadelphia and Surrounding Counties

The two large dots represent the ground zeros of the two l-Mt Soviet weapons. Within 2 miles of these around
zeros, there are approximately 155,000 people of which 135,000 were calculated to have been killed. Within 5
miIes, there are 785,000 people of which 410,000 would have died.
Ch. IV Three Attack Cases 71

be. This busy, narrow channel passes within age. Alternate airfields in the northeast and
about 1.3 miles [2.1 km] of one of the targets near Camden, N. J., should be unaffected.
and could become blocked at least temporari-
ly by a grounded heavily laden iron ore ship Rail. The main Conrail lines from Washing-
(bound upriver for the Fairless Works) or by ton to New York and New England pass about
sunken ships or barges. a mile from the nearest burst. I t can be ex-
pected that these will be sufficiently damaged
Electric Power to cause at Ieast short-term interruption. Local
rail connections to the port area pass within a
There are four major electric powerplants in few hundred yards of one of the refineries. This
or near Philadelphia. Table 9 summarizes ca- service suffers long-term disruption. An impor-
pacity, average usage (1976), and expected tant consequence is the loss of rail connec-
damage to these four installations. tions to the massive food distribution center
While the usage figures in table 9 are aver- and the produce terminal in the southeast cor-
ner of the city.
age and do not reflect peak demand, it should
be noted that a large percentage of this de- Road. Several major northeast-southwest
mand will disappear with destruction of the in- highways are severed at the refineries and at
dustrial areas along the Schuylkill River and of bridge crossings over the Schuylkill River.
a large portion of the downtown business dis- While this poses serious problems for the im-
trict. Thus, the plant in the Richmond section mediate area, there are alternate routes
of Philadelphia, Pa., may be able to handle the through New Jersey and via the western
emergency load. Assuming early recovery of suburbs of the city.
the Delaware plant, there probably will be ade-
quate emergency e ectric power for the surviv- Ship. Barring the possible blockage of the
ing portion of the d stribution system. channel by grounded or sunken ships in the
narrow reach near the naval shipyard, ship traf -
Transportation fic to and from the port should experience only
short-term interruption.
Air. The major facilities of the PhiIadel-
phia International Airport are located about
Casualty Handling
1.5 nautical miles [2.8 km] from the nearest
burst. These can be assumed to be severely Perhaps the most serious immediate and
damaged. The runways are 1.5 to 2.5 nautical continuing problem is the destruction of many
miIes [2.8 to 4.6 km] from the nearest burst and of Philadelphias hospitals. Hospitals, assum-
should experience Iittle or no long-term dam- ing a typical construction of muItistory steel or
72 . The Effects of Nuclear War

reinforced concrete, would have a SO-percent hours or days, adding to the damage caused by
probability of destruction at about 2.13 miles blast. Some oil tanks would rupture and the oil
(1 .85 nautical miles [3.4 km]). A detailed 1967 would leak onto rivers or harbors, where it
map indicates eight major hospitals within this would ignite and spread fire. Fires at refineries
area; all are destroyed or severely damaged. could not be extinguished because of intense
Another nine hospitals are located from 2 to 3 heat, local fallout, an inadequate supply of
miles [3 to 4 km] from the refineries. While chemicals to use on petroleum fires, and roads
most of the injured would be in this area, their blocked by rubble and evacuees. Petrochem-
access to these hospitals would be curtailed by ical plants, already damaged by blast, would
rubble, fire, and so on. Thus, most of the seri- be further damaged by fire and would leak tox-
ously injured would have to be taken to more ic chemicals. As discussed in chapter 11, fire-
distant hospitals in north and northeast Phila- storms or conflagrations might begin, in this
delphia, which would quickly become over- case supported by thousands of tons of gas-
taxed. 01 inc. Anyway, the plants would likely be dam-
aged beyond repair. Finally, with fires threat-
Military ening to burn, poison, or asphyxiate people in
shelters, rescue crews would attach top prior-
Two important military facilities are located
ity to rescuing survivors.
near the intended targets. The Defense Supply
Agency complex is located within 0.5 miles [0.8 Once it was clear that further attacks were
km] of one of the refineries and is completely unlikely, the undamaged areas of the country
destroyed. The U.S. Naval Shipyard is 1.0 to 1.8 would supply aid. However, the available med-
miles [1.6 to 2.9 km] from the nearest target ical aid would be totally inadequate to treat
and can be expected to suffer severe damage. burns this attack would cause. The radius of
The large drydocks in this shipyard are within a third-degree burns (5.2 nautical miles [9.6 km]
mile of the refinery. for a l-Mt weapon air burst) is far greater than
for any other life-threatenin g injury, and huge
Other fires would cause more burns. But, even in
peacetime, the entire United States has facil-
Several educational, cultural, and historical
ities to treat only a few thousand burn cases
facilities are in or near the area of heavy de-
adequately at any one time.
struction. These include Independence Hall,
the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel insti- If the attack used ground bursts exclusively,
tute of Technology, Philadelphia Museum of it would cause fewer prompt fatalities (2.9 mil-
Art, City Hall, the Convention Hall and Civic lion instead of 5.0 million for the air burst
Center, Veterans Stadium, Kennedy Stadium, case), but much fallout. Given the extensive
and the Spectrum. fallout sheltering described above, 312,000
people would die of fallout. Fallout casualties,
Reaction: The First Week however, would depend strongly on wind di-
rections: would gulf coast fallout blow toward
During this period people would be in a Atlanta, Miami, Cuba, or Venezuela? Would
state of shock, with their lives disrupted and New Jersey fallout land on New York City on
further drastic changes inevitable. Many its way out to sea? The problems of shelterers
would have loved ones killed and homes de- are discussed under Case 3: A Counterforce
stroyed. Factories and offices in the target Attack Against the United States, in this
areas would be destroyed, throwing people out chapter.
of work. People would face many immediate
Beyond the physical damage, people would
tasks: care of the injured, burial of the dead,
realize that a central assumption of their
search and rescue, and fire fighting.
livesthat nuclear war could not occurwas
Fires at petroleum refineries, storage tanks, wrong. Even people beyond target areas would
and petrochemical factories would rage for know immediately that secondary effects
Ch. IV Three Attack Cases w 73
.... .

would irrevocably change their way of Iife; sur- there were substitutes would receive little or
vivors traveling to undamaged areas would no petroleum. For example, railroads could
drive this point home. Most would fear further substitute for airlines, trucks, and buses on in-
attacks, and would seek protection by evac- tercity routes; mass transit would probably
uating or seeking shelter. While recovery plans substitute for private automobiles and taxis in
could be made and damage assessed, little re- local transportation.
construction could be done with many people
away or in shelters. Thus, the reaction period The demise of the petroleum industry would
would not end until most people acted as if shatter the American economy, as the attack
they believed the war was over. intended. A huge number of jobs depend on re-
fined petroleum: manufacture, sales, repair,
and insurance of cars, trucks, buses, aircraft,
Recovery and ships; industries that make materials used
Once people believed that the war was over, in vehicle manufacture, such as steel, glass,
the Nation would face the task of restoring the rubber, aluminum, and plastics; highway con-
economy. The human consequences would be struct ion; much of the vacation industry;
petrochemicals; heating oil; some electric
severe, but most deaths would have occurred
within 30 days of the attack. Economic disrup- power generation; airlines and some railroads;
tion and the economic recovery process would agriculture; and so on. Thus, many workers
last much longer. would be thrown out of work, and many indus-
tries would be forced to close.
Restoring an adequate supply of refined
petroleum would take years. It is unlikely that The limited direct economic damage, al-
any of the attacked refineries could be re- ready muItiplied by thousands of secondary ef-
paired, although enough infrastructure might fects just enumerated, would be multiplied
survive to make it cost effective to clear and again by tertiary effects. Economic patterns
decontaminate the rubble and rebuild on the that rest on the petroleum economy would be
old sites, The attack would kill many people disrupted. Much of the American way of life is
skilled in building or operating refineries. The dependent on automobiles, from fast-food res-
attack wouId also destroy many ports with spe- taurants and shopping malls to suburban hous-
cial facilities for handling large quantities of ing construction and industries located on ma-
crude oil and refined petroleum, While inten- jor highways whose workers commute by car.
sive use of pIant and equipment can substan- The many people thrown out of work would
tially increase output for many industries, it have less money to consume things made by
can increase a typical refinerys output by only others. Service industries of all kinds would be
4 percent. Thus, the attack would leave the especialIy hard hit.
United States with about a third of its prewar
These economic changes would lead to
refining capacity and with Iittle of its prewar
social changes t h a t w o u l d h a v e f u r t h e r
oil importing capacity; this situation would
economic consequences. Gasoline rationing
persist until new refineries and ports could be
would at best severely curtail use of private
cars; mass transit would be used to its capaci-
The survival of a third of the Nations refin- ty, which would appear inadequate. Demand
ing capacity does not mean that everyone for real estate would plummet in some areas,
would get a third of the petroleum they did especially suburbs, and skyrocket in others,
before the war. The Government would surely notably cities, as people moved nearer to work
impose rationing. Critical industries and serv- and stores. Such mass movement, even within
ices would have top priority military forces, cities but especially between them, would
agriculture, railroads, police, firefighting, and upset the demographics underlyin g t a x e s ,
so on. Heating oil could be supplied, but at schools, and city services. With many people
austere levels. Uses of petroleum for which out of work, demand for unemployment com-
74 The Effects of Nuclear War

pensation would rise at the same time taxes assets and key people from the private sector
were falling. Vacation patterns would shift; were borrowed by the Government for the du-
cuts in air and car travel would force people to ration of the emergency. Certain tasks, such as
travel by train, which would lead people to caring for the injured, decontamination, high-
vacation closer to home. The situation follow- priority reconstruction, and serving as an em-
ing the attack could lead the dollar to tumble, ployer of last resort (to say nothing of meeting
but whether or not that occurred, the curtail- military requirements), would obviously be
ment of commercial air travel would prevent handled by the Government. The difficulty
most people from traveling abroad. The eco- wouId be in planning and facilitating the trans-
nomic system on which production depends formation of the private sector. The combina-
would be radicalIy different. To be sure, most tion of unusable factories and service faciIities
workers and equipment would survive un- with unemployed workers could easily create a
scathed, and economic recovery would even- situation analogous to that experienced in the
tually take place. United States between 1929-33.

Production depends, however, not only on

the use of physical resources, but also on a Long-Term Effects
wide range of understandings between produc-
ers and consumers. These underpinnings would Postattack society would be permanently
be destroyed by the attack just as surely as if and irrevocably changed. People would live in
they were targeted. Prices would be uncertain, different places, work at different jobs, and
and various kinds of barter (trading favors as travel in different ways. They would buy dif-
well as goods) would supplement the use of ferent things and take different kinds of vaca-
money. Credit and finance could not function tions. The Nation would tend to apply the
normally in the absence of information about lessons of the past to future policy by seeking
the markets for continuing production. Con- to reduce its vulnerabilities to the last attack.
tracts would have uncertain meaning. Many Energy conservation, where not required by
businesses would go bankrupt as patterns of regulations, would be encouraged by prices,
supply and demand changed overnight. Courts taxes, and subsidies. Railroads and mass transit
would be seriously overburdened with the task would supplant travel by cars and planes; rail
of trying to arbitrate among all of these com- and ships would substitute for planes and
peting claims. Corporations and individuals trucks in hauling freight. Automobile produc-
wouId be reluctant to make commitments or tion would drop sharply and would emphasize
investments. energy-efficient models; bicycles and motor-
cycles would be popular. While housing con-
Given this disruption, the effort to resume struction would not necessarily end in the
production would require grappling with some suburbs, new homes there would probably be
basic organizational questions. To which tasks built closer together so that mass transit could
would surviving resources be applied? How serve them. Construction in cities would boom.
would people be put back to work? What mix All houses would be better insulated; more
of goods would they produce? Which indus- would use solar energy as fuel costs soared.
tries should be expanded, and which curtailed?
Which decisions would Government make, Farms would be able to obtain adequate
and which wouId be left to the market? supplies of petroleum and its derivatives. Agri-
culture uses only 4 or 5 percent of the Nations
This organizational task is unprecedented, petroleum, and its products are necessary.
but in principle it could be performed, Pre- While gasoline and petrochemical-based fer-
sumably the United States would follow the tilizers and pesticides wouId be much more ex-
precedent of the mobilization for World Wars pensive, they comprise only a small fraction of
I and 11, in which extensive Government plan- farm expenses and would be essential for
ning supplemented private enterprise, and key large-scale efficient agriculture. Moreover
Ch, IVThree Attack Cases 75

much fertilizer is made from natural gas rather cinogenous petrochemicals, but numbers of
than petroleum, so its price would not rise as cancer cases from this source, the time of their
dramatically as that of gasoline, Petroleum- appearance, and the duration of the threat
related cost increases would be passed on to cannot be predicted. To the extent that con-
the consumer. The character of agriculture tamination or destruction of housing, or eco-
couId change, however. I n particular, the Iive- nomic collapse, force people to live in sub-
stock industry might be sharply curtailed. At standard housing, illness would increase. Not
every stage, Iivestock raising, slaughter, and all changes, however, would be for the worse.
distribution require much more energy than do Some new patterns of living would promote
crops. For example, rapid transportation and public health. There would be fewer auto, air-
extensive refrigeration are required. Meat craft, and boating accidents. More people
wouId become very much more costly in rela- would walk or bicycle, increasing exercise. Re-
tion to other foods than it is now, and so would duced consumption of meat would reduce die-
become a luxury. If livestock production tary fats, heart attacks, and strokes. At some
dropped, a major source of demand for corn, point, Government-imposed controls necessi-
soybeans, and other fodder would decline, tated by the attack could be lifted because
possibly slowing price increases for other farm societal changes and market forces (price in-
products. creases, alternative energy sources, residential
patterns, and numbers and efficiency of cars)
Although refineries and oil importing facil-
would achieve the goals of controls without
ities would be rebuilt, U.S. refining capacity
coercion. For example, gasoline rationing
after recovery wouId probably be less than pre-
would certainly be imposed immediately after
attack capacity. Increased prices for gasoline
the attack, and might be lifted in stages as re-
and heating oil would shift demand to other
fining capacity was restored, or subsidies to ex-
sources of energy, raising their prices and en-
pand and support mass transit could level off
couraging an acceleration of their develop-
or decline as revenues made it self-supporting.
Patterns of industrial production would shift
The Nations adjustment to all these
dramatically because of these changes, forcing
changes would be painful. The problems
massive shifts in demand for ski I Is and re-
would be especially severe because of the
sources. Many people and factories would be
speed of their onset. Many people say that the
oriented to the production of things no longer
United States would be better off if it was less
in demand; it would take many years for the
dependent on cars and petroleum. While
economy to adjust to the sudden, massive
changing to new patterns of Iiving via nuclear
changes imposed by the attack.
attack would minimize political problems of
The attack would affect public health. deciding to change, it would maximize the dif-
Chapter V discusses the long-term effects of ficulties of transition. Problems would appear
sublethal levels of radiation. Petrochemical all at once, while any advantages of new pat-
plants damaged by the attack would leak car- terns of Iiving would come slowly.


This case investigates what might happen if ber and long construction time, and because
the United States tried to inflict as much eco- of the severe economic consequences of doing
nomic damage as possible on the Soviet Union without refined petroleum,
with 10 SNDVs without seeking to maximize or
minimize casualties. Petroleum refineries were The Soviet refining industry is at least as
selected as targets because of their small num- vulnerable as its U.S. counterpart, though the
76 . The Effects of Nuclear War

vulnerabilities differ slightly. The United fewer refineries than available RVs. The addi-
States refines more petroleum than does the tional RVs were first allocated 2 on 1 against
U. S. S. R., about 17.9 million barrels per day of large refineries; remaining RVs were targeted
crude (1978 figures) versus 11.0 million (1980 against petroleum storage complexes. As in the
projection). 2 According to a 1977 source, the U.S. case, every weapon is assumed to deto-
U.S.S.R. had 59 refineries, including at least 12 nate over and destroy its target. It is assumed
under construction, some of which are very that all weapons are air burst, and the conse-
large; the U.S. and its territories have at least quences of using ground bursts are noted
2 8 8 .3 All individual refineries in both nations where appropriate.
are highly vulnerable to attacks with nuclear
weapons. The U.S. attack destroys most of Immediate Effects: The First Hour
Soviet refining capacity because the U.S.S.R.
has few refineries; the Soviet attack destroys The attack destroys 73 percent of Soviet re-
most of U.S. refining capacity because U.S. re- fining capacity and 16 percent of Soviet stor-
fineries are clustered. age capacity, as table 10 shows. Collateral eco-
nomic damage could not be calculated or col-
The hypothetical attack targets 24 refineries lateral damage to a large Soviet city assessed
and 34 petroleum storage sites. Some major re- because sufficient unclassified data could not
fineries are beyond range of Poseidon missiles, be found.
so the United States uses 7 Poseidons with a
total of sixty-four 40-kiloton (kt) RVs and 3 If all weapons are air burst, the attack kills
Minuteman IIIs with a total of nine 170-kt RVs. 1,458,000 people assuming everyone to be in
Because of the dispersal of Soviet refineries single-story buildings, and 836,000 assuming
and limits of footprint size, each footprint had everyone in multistory buildings; the latter
assumption comes closer to reality. If all
weapons were ground burst, the attack would
2U S. Refining Capacity (Washington, D.C National kill 1,019,000 people, 722,000 promptly and
Petroleum Refiners Association, July 28, 1978), p 1 (U. S
figures), and International Petroleum Encyclopedia, 1976
297,000 by fallout, assuming the worst case,
(Tulsa, Okla.: Petroleum Publishing Co , 1977), p, 323 (So- everyone Iiving in single-story buildings.
viet figures).
International Petroleum Encyclopedia, 1976, op. cit.,
The estimated injuries from the attack are
p, 393 (Soviet figures); and U.S. Refining Capacity, op substantial under all conditions. Under the
cit.; passim, (U.S. figures). single-story assumption on housing, the air-
Ch. IVThree Attack Cases 77
-- -- - -- - - - - -- .--

burst attack would produce 3.6 million injuries less, people affected by shortages. Accommo-
and a surface-burst attack about a m i I I ion less. dation to a future with a sharply reduced
If in multistory buildings, the population petroleum supply would begin: gasoline and
would suffer 3.8 miIIion injured from an air- other products might be hoarded, by enter-
burst attack and 2.5 million for the surface prises if not by individuals. Some less-im-
burst. (A protection factor of 5 was assumed portant industries would probably be closed to
against fallout from the surface bursts. ) save fuel or to allow their workers to shift to
the military, agriculture, and essential indus-
The attack kills fewer Russians than Ameri-
try. Until it became clear that the war was
cans. The differences in fatalities do not mean
over, millions of reservists would be mobilized
that the United States is necessarily more vul-
for military service, placing a heavy demand
nerable than the Soviet Union to nuclear at-
on the domestic economy to replace them. Be-
tack; rather, the asymmetries occur from the
cause of the mobilization, hours worked and
design of the attack. Soviet refineries are far-
the mix of production would change dramat-
ther from cities than are U.S. refineries : a n d
ically and overnight; workers in essential in-
U.S. weapons are smaller, so fewer Russians
dustries might be on 12-hour shifts; other work-
are within the lethal radii of U.S. weapons. Sen-
ers not drafted wouId be pressed into service in
sitivity of fatalities and injuries to distance
essential industries, and quite possibly moved
from ground zero is shown in table 11, Had
to factories in distant areas. The speed and
either nation sought to kill people, it would
magnitude of disruption would cause much
have used different weapons and targeted
psychological shock.
them differently.
How would the Soviet Union cope with the
damage? Although a greater percentage of its
Reaction: The First Week refining capacity would be destroyed, it would
As in the United States, life for the surviving suffer fewer fatalities than would the United
majority would be totally disrupted. Many States (1.0 million to 1.5 million versus 3.2 mil-
would be directly affected by the attack: the lion to 5.0 million) and fewer injuries (2.5 mil-
injured, those with injured relatives, the home- lion to 3.8 million versus 3.9 million to 4.9 mil-

Table 11 .Approximate Distance (Nautical Miles) of Various Effects From Selected Nuclear Air Bursts
(personnel casualties)
78 The Effects of Nuclear War

lion) because of the lower yield of U.S. weap- could be expected to remain firmly in control
ons and the location of Soviet refineries away because of the limited scale of this attack.
from cities. If all weapons were air burst at op- Assuming that there are no further attacks,
timum height of burst, there would be negligi- most of the deaths would occur within 30 days
ble fallout in both countries; if all weapons of the attack. While the course of economic
were ground burst, the Soviet Union would re- recovery cannot be predicted in detail, it is
ceive far less fallout because of the lower yield clear that:
of the weapons. Because the Soviets have built
many widely dispersed small dispensaries and
The attack would hurt. The recovery peri-
first aid centers, rather than smaller numbers od would be marked by shortage and sac-
of modern full-service hospitals concentrated rifice, with particular problems stemming
in cities, more of these facilities would survive from agricultural shortfalls.
than in the United States. In addition, many Nevertheless, the Soviet economy and po-
Russians have received first aid training, and litical system would survive, and would
people with injuries that could be treated by do so with less drastic changes than the
paramedics, dispensaries, and first aid would United States would probably experience.
probably be better off than their American
counterparts; others would be at least as bad
The asymmetries between the two nations
in effects for a given attack are greater for
off. Those who required treatment at major
hospitals would suffer because of the small this case than for a very large attack.
number of beds in nearby modern hospitals
The political and economic structure of the
and the inability of the Soviet transportation
U.S.S.R. appears designed to cope with drastic
system to move them elsewhere. Like the
emergencies like this attack. While almost all
United States, the U.S.S.R. could not cope with
economic assets would be unscathed, re-
large numbers (say, over 100) of severe burn
sources would need to be shifted rapidly to
cases. There would be many victims of severe
produce a different mix of outputs. The attack
burns in both nations who would die for lack
would totally disrupt existing economic plans.
of adequate treatment.
The economic planning apparatus and Govern-
The damage, the emergency conditions, and ment control methods in place in the U.S.S.R.
the risk of further attacks would remind every- would permit the Government to shift plans
one of the special horror that the Soviets faced and resources, but the speed with which such
in World War II. The psychological trauma changes could be made is uncertain. To the ex-
would be exacerbated in the first week by an- tent that revisions in the economic plan were
ticipation of crisis economic conditions. The not made or were delayed, people and equip-
Soviet Government in past crises has proved to ment would sit idle or would be producing ac-
be ruthless and efficient in moving people to cording to less-efficient priorities, draining
parts of the country where labor was needed. scarce resources from higher priority tasks and
Such action would be likely in this crisis as hindering recovery. Workers would be shifted
well, along with cutbacks in food, consumer to different industries as pIants closed; some
goods, housing construction and maintenance, would be forced to move, share apartments
and transportation. Only regimentation would with strangers, or work at new jobs (including
be likely to increase. Life would be grim, and manual labor in farms or factories).
wouId remain so for years.
Some insight into the economic conse-
quences can be obtained by looking at four
Recovery sectors of the economy military, agriculture,
transportation, and industry. Each of these sec-
What course would Soviet recovery take? tors would have a strong claim on available
Economic viability would not be at issue petroleum, but their total demand would ex-
following this attack, and the Government ceed the supply.
Ch. IV Three Attack Cases 79

The military would have first call on fuel, tain agricultures prewar consumption, and
especially if the war continued. It has ade- other critical sectors would compete for petro-
quate stocks to prosecute a war for several leum. Drawing on inventory would sacrifice
weeks. However, unless this attack led to a later agricultural production for earlier pro-
decisive Soviet victory or to a major relaxation duction. Following the attack, the main con-
of tensions, the military would need refined cern of agriculture would be planting, growing,
petroleum to rebuild its stocks and to carry out or harvesting the years crop; sacrifices and
normal training. substitutions would be required in other agri-
cultural subsectors to meet this goal with
Soviet agriculture is precarious even in
available petroleum. The U.S.S.R. would be
peacetime because of its inefficiency. Agricul-
likely to divert people from schools, factories,
ture engages about a third of the work force
and (depending on the international situation)
and consumes a third of Soviet gasoline and
the military to work the fields, as it does in
diesel fuel. (U.S. agriculture, in contrast, uses
peacetime, but to a greater extent. The substi-
2.7 percent of the work force (in 1978) and a
tution of human labor for mechanical energy
small fraction of U.S. refined petroleum .)4 The
would be a poor but perhaps unavoidable
Soviet Union imports grain in most years. Nev-
trade. The most obvious cutback would be
ertheless, the U.S.S.R. has maintained a large
livestock; meat is a luxury, livestock consume
cattle industry at considerable expense to pro-
much food that could otherwise be used for
vide a consumer good much in demand. Farms
human consumption, and cattle raising,
use petroleum for tractors and trucks; petro-
slaughter, and distribution require much
leum and natural gas are feedstocks for ferti-
energy. The Soviet Union might slaughter
lizer and pesticides. Agricultural use of petro-
much of its Iivestock after the attack to free
leum is increasing. One small example is the
farmers, fields, trucks, and petroleum to pro-
Soviet use of light aircraft to spread fertilizer;
duce crops. Russians might have a 3-month
while this task could be done by tractors or by
orgy of meat followed by two decades with-
hand, it is much more efficiently done by air-
Soviet transportation would be pinched. A
Cutbacks in petroleum would magnify agri-
few top leaders would still have cars; other
cultural inefficiency. Even if the Soviet Union
cars would sit idle for years, monuments to the
allocated all the petroleum it produced to agri-
culture, it would not produce enough to sus- prewar standard of living. Air transportation
would be sharply curtailed, and Soviet super-
sonic transports would be grounded. Truck
4Statistica/ Abstract of the United States, 1978 (Wash- transportation would be curtailed, with trucks
ington, D C U S Department of Commerce, Bureau of
used almost exclusively for intracity transpor-
the Census, 1978), I ists 91,846,000 employed persons age
16 and over in the United States, of whom 2,469,000 were tation and hauling goods between railroads
listed as farmworkers, for January-April 1978 (p. 418). The and loading docks. By elimination, the trans-
Statistical Abstract does not present the amount of petro- portation burden would fall to railroads be-
leum consumed by American agriculture. Several statis- cause of their energy efficiency. Key trunklines
tics, however, indicate this number to be a small fraction
are electrified, and might obtain electricity
of total U S petroleum consumption Preliminary 1977
data showed all U S prime movers (automotive and non- from sources other than petroleum. The Sovi-
automotive) had 26,469,000,000 horsepower, whi Ie farms ets have stored a number of steam locomo-
accounted for 328,000,000 horsepower, or 1 2 percent (p. tives, which would be hauled out, refurbished,
604) In 1976, industrial consumption of petroleum ac- and put to use.
counted for 18 percent of total U S petroleum consump-
tion (p 764) And a National Academy of Sciences study The tempo of industrial production would
found that agriculture accounted for 3.5 percent of total
slow. Even as it stands now, the Soviets have
national energy consumption In 1968 Agricu/?ura/ Pro-
duction Efficiency (Washington, D C National Academy barely enough energy and occasional short-
of Sciences, National Research Council Committee on ages. Electric power would continue, but
Agricultural Production Efficiency, 1975), p 119) would probably be cut back 10 to 15 percent,
80 The Effects of Nuclear War

forcing some industries to close and reducing though some variety might be sacrificed. There
heat and light at other industries and apart- would be less heat in both nations, but winters
ments. With transportation cut back, factories are shorter and milder in the United States,
would have to wait longer for inputs, lowering and U.S. indoor temperatures in winter could
productivity. be reduced 50 or 10 F without ill effect.
Therefore, heating could probably not be cut
Some less-essential industries, especially en-
as much in the U.S.S.R. as in the United States
ergy- or petroleum-intensive ones, might shut
without jeopardizing health. Cars would be
down. Plastics use petroleum derivatives as
sacrificed at least temporarily in both nations.
feedstocks. Aluminum production uses great
Soviet industries producing consumer goods
amounts of energy, though some Soviet alumi-
would be cut back more sharply than their U, S.
num pIants, such as at Bratsk in Siberia, use
counterparts after the attack, and would re-
hydroelectric power. Truck production would
gain productivity more slowly.
stop for lack of fuel for existing vehicles, idling
the huge Kama River truck plant.
Construction consumes much petroleum, so
it would be curtailed except for essential in- Long-Term Effects
dustries, hydroelectric powerplant construc-
tion, refining construction, and minimal hous- Destroying 73 percent of refining capacity
ing for workers in those occupations. would force the economy onto a crisis footing,
curtailing choices and consumer goods, drop-
These changes would disrupt workers lives.
ping the standard of living from austere to
Closing of some plants would idle many work-
grim, and setting back Soviet economic prog-
ers, forcing them to work in other industries;
ress by many years. Recovery might follow the
many could be moved long distances to other
post-World War II pattern, with a slow but
plants. Workers would not necessarily be
steady improvement in the quality of life. But
forced to work long hours. While some plants
recovery wouId be slow, The desire to reduce
would operate around the clock, others would
vulnerability to future attacks would un-
be closed or cut back to enable the energy
doubtedly divert resources from recovery to
they consume to be diverted. At the same time,
such tasks as building some underground re-
however, and within limits of substitutability,
fineries. While the United States could possi-
workers could Iikewise be diverted from closed
bly recover in a way that would use less petro-
to open plants, providing extra labor for fac-
leum than it did prewar, this course would be
tories that remained open extra time.
difficult for the U.S.S.R. because much of
In sum, the reduction in the standard of liv- Soviet petroleum goes to necessities. Long-
ing and the amount of disruption would prob- term health and genetic effects would be less
ably be less than in the United States but there than for the United States because of the
might well be more hardship and misery. Rus- smaller size of U.S. weapons and the location
sians would have less food, especially protein, of Soviet refineries away from people. But the
than they did before the attack, while Amer- Soviet Government might accept greater radia-
ican agriculture consumes so Iittle petroleum tion exposure for people in order to speed pro-
that its output could probably be maintained, duction, increasing such effects.
Ch. IVThree Attack Cases 81



The case of a Soviet attack on U.S. strategic Attacks on submarine bases and bomber bases
forces has received extensive public attention would cause considerable blast damage to
in recent years, since some observers believe it nearby populations and urban structures; at-
is the least irrational way of waging strategic tacks on silos would cause relatively little
war. For the purposes of this study, the military civilian blast damage. Unlike ICBM silos, many
success of such an attack (i. e., how many U.S. bomber bases and fleet ballistic missile sub-
forces would be destroyed) and the resulting marine (SSBN) support facilities are near cities.
U.S. responses are not important. It is suffi- (See figure 15.) For example, an attack on Grif-
cient to assume that such an attack is fiss Air Force Base, near Utica and Rome, N. Y.,
launched, and to examine the consequences would place nearly 200,000 people at risk from
for the civilian population, economy, and prompt effects; attacking the SSBN support fa-
society. For this purpose, small variations in cility near Charleston, S. C., would place more
the attack design (e. g., whether control centers than 200,000 people at risk; attacking Mather
as well as silos are targeted) are immaterial. Air Force Base, near Sacramento, Cal if., would
While there are many possible variations in the place more than 600,000 people at risk. The ad-
design of a counterforce attack, a question of ditional attacks would simultaneously reduce
particular interest is whether the attack would the number of people able to provide aid and
be delivered only against ICBM silos, or increase the number of injured or evacuees re
whether bomber bases and missile submarine quiring aid. The attacks would make it harder
bases would also be attacked. Some of the for people able to provide aid to sustain those
public discussion of such an attack suggests needing it.
that an attack on ICBM silos alone could cause
Countersilo attacks would probably deto-
much less civilian damage than a full-scale
nate some weapons at or near the Earths sur-
counterforce attack because the silos are more
face to maximize the likelihood of destroying
isolated from population centers than are
ICBM silos. Surface bursts produce intense
bomber bases. It is certainly true that, holding
fallout, causing most of the damage to the ci-
al I the other possible variables constant, an at-
vilian population, economy, and society. The
tack that included bomber bases and missile
principal civilian impact of adding attacks on
submarine bases would cause more civilian
bomber and SSBN bases is the large increase in
damage than one that did not. Nevertheless,
urban destruction.
the difference between the ICBM-only attack
and a comprehensive counterforce attack was
found to be no greater than the difference The Period Before Fallout Deposition
made by other variables, such as the size of Fallout would begin to reach closer popu-
weapons used, the proportion of surface bursts lated areas in a few hours; it would reach many
used, and the weather. Both cases are consid- others in a few days. As fallout arrives, radi-
ered in this section; the countersilo attack is a ation levels rise sharply and rapidly. People
subset of the counterforce attack, and avail- would therefore have to take any protective
able data is too coarse to support a believable act ions shelter or evacuation before the
differentiation between the civilian effects of fallout arrives. This prearrival period would
each attack. thus be one of intense activity and intense con-
fusion. How would people react? Training
Prompt Effects could help, but people trained in how to be-
have under fallout conditions would fare poor-
The blast damage from a counterforce at- ly if they could not get to shelters or if shelters
tack is concentrated on military installations. were unstocked. To what extent would people
82 The Effects of Nuclear War

Figure 15.Counterforce Targets in the United States

State capital

NOTE: No targets in 15 States; one target each in 11 States

panic, seek other family members, or evacuate would not know how long they had), and peo-
spontaneously, and what would be the conse- ple would want to get their families together
quences of such actions? first. A shelter must have a sufficient protec-
Evacuation would probably be a poor tion factor. Fallout particles must be kept out
of the shelter, which requires a ventilation
choice, since it would be difficult or impossi-
system more complicated than an open win-
ble to predict which would be the safe areas
dow or door, and if anybody enters a shelter
and which the hot spots, and since a car in a
after fallout has fallen there must be some
traffic jam would offer poor shelter indeed.
means of decontaminating the new arrival.
The decision on whether or not to evacuate,
Water is necessary; heat may be necessary de-
however, is complicated because evacuation is
pending on the time of year; sanitation is a
a reasonable response for people who would
problem. Finally, people could not tell how
be at risk from blast from further attacks even
long it was necessary to stay in the shelter
though evacuation is a poor strategy for peo-
without radiation rate meters.
ple at risk from fallout alone.
Shelter would in theory be available to a ma- It is obvious that the time of day, the time of
jority of people, although the best available the year, and the degree of emergency prep-
shelter might not be good enough in areas arations during the hours or days before the at-
where the fallout proved to be very intense. tack would all affect the level of deaths. What-
However, the practical difficulties of fallout ever the circumstances, the few hours after the
sheltering could be very great. The time to attack would see a frantic effort to seek shel-
seek shelter could be very limited (and people ter on the part of most of the American popu-
Ch. IVThree Attack Cases 83

Iation. Then, in densities and locations deter- imum, from fallout until it was clear that at-
mined by the attack parameters and the tacks had ended. To these people would fall
weather, the fallout would descend. Many the burdens of producing necessities and car-
Americans would be lucky enough to be in ing for the injured and evacuees. Yet people in
areas where the fallout level was low. Many these areas, believing themselves to be at risk,
others (between an estimated 2 million and 20 would feel compelled to seek shelter or, es-
million), would be caught without shelter, or pecially in unattached cities, to evacuate spon-
with inadequate shelter, and would die. Still taneously. These actions would reduce the
others would suffer from a degree of radiation flow of aid to damaged areas. Indeed, the
that would make them sick, or at least lower economy would probably shut down until peo-
their life expectancy, but would not kill them. ple were certain that the war had ended and
The trials of living in fallout shelters would be until most people could get back to work,
intensified by the fact that many people would probably until the end of the shelter period.
not know which category they and their fam- Even if some people reported to work, produc-
ilies were in. tion would be difficult with many absentees.
There would be large credit, monetary, con-
A comprehensive counterforce attack would
tractual, and legal problems. If production
impose a greater burden than a countersi 10 at-
stopped even for a week, the loss wouId be tre-
tack. Many more people would be injured by
mendous. This attack would disrupt the econ-
prompt effects, and people near bomber and
omy less than Case 2, however, because most
SSBN bases would have only a few minutes
productive resources would remain intact.
warning in which to seek shelter.
Cities in the blast area those near SSBN or
bomber baseswould be heavily damaged. A Casualty Estimates
few cities, such as Charleston, SC., and Little In seeking to estimate prompt damage from
Rock, Ark., could suffer consequences similar the attacks, fatalities are the most important
to Detroit in Case 1 (chapter 11) or Philadelphia component of damage and the most calcu-
in Case 2 (above in this chapter); most would lable. To estimate fatalities, the critical ques-
not. People in blast areas would face hazards tions are which areas would be damaged by
as noted in Case 1 injuries from blast, initial blast, and to what extent? How much fallout
nuclear radiation, and thermal radiation, and would there be, and where wouId it be depos-
from such secondary effects as falling build- ited? These questions cannot be answered with
ings and fires. As in other cases, rescue would great confidence because estimates of deaths
be difficult, with streets blocked by rubble, from these attacks are highly sensitive to at-
water pressure gone, and emergency vehicles tack parameters and civilian shelter assump-
destroyed. tions. However, reference can be made to sev-
eral recent executive branch studies of coun-
People in areas damaged by blast and in the
terforce attacks.
path of fallout would be in greatest peril. in-
juries, damage to prospective shelters, damage
OTA drew on several executive branch
to transportation, and damage to power and
studies, conducted between 1974 and 1978, of
water could make them highly vuInerable. Lit-
counterforce attacks. These studies differed
tle Rock, Ark., for example, the site of an ICBM
widely in their results, primarily because of dif-
base and a bomber base, would receive both
ferences in the assumptions they made. OTA
blast damage from a pattern attack (designed
felt that it would be more useful to look at the
to destroy bombers in flight) and intense
ways in which these assumptions affect the re-
fallout radiation from the attack on ICBMs.
sults than to attempt to determine the cor-
People in areas neither damaged by blast rect assumption for each uncertainty. Conse-
nor threatened by fallout would believe them- quently, a range of results is presented; it is
selves to be at risk from blast or, at a min- believed that if OTA had done a new study of
84 The Effects of Nuclear war

this case the results would have fallen some- figure 16 shows. The hourly and daily vari-
where within this range. 5 ation of winds also affects casualties. It is
The executive branch countersilo studies important to bear in mind, when consider-
that OTA drew on indicated that between 2 ing possible civil defense measures, that
million and 20 million Americans would die winds could not be accurately predicted
within the first 30 days after an attack on U.S. even after an attack had taken place,
ICBM silos. This range of results is so wide be- much less in advance.
Rain. Raindrops collect fallout particles
cause of the extent of the uncertainties sur-
rounding fallout. The key uncertainties are: from the radioactive cloud, thereby creat-
Height of Burst. If the fireball touches ing areas of intense fallout where it is rain-
the ground, it vaporizes some dirt, irradi- ing, and reducing fallout elsewhere.
Terrain. Hills, buildings, and ground tem-
ates it, and draws it up into the mushroom
cloud. This material condenses to become perature gradients (such as are caused by
fallout. The lower the height of burst, the highways and small lakes) affect the exact
more of the fireball touches the ground, pattern of fallout, creating hot spots in
and the more fallout that is produced. An some places and relatively uncontam-
air burst in which none of the fireball inated spots nearby.
Distance.Other things remaining con-
touches the ground creates negligible
fallout. Because ICBM silos are very hard, stant, fallout decreases with distance
a surface burst offers the greatest prob- from the explosion beyond roughly 50
ability of destroying the silo with one ex- miles [80 km].
plosion; it also maximizes fallout. The As chapter 11 explained, radiation from fall-
probability of destroying an ICBM silo is out in large doses causes death, in smaller
increased if two warheads are targeted doses causes illness, and in still smaller doses
against it; opinions differ as to whether creates a probability of eventual illness or
the most effective tactic is to use two sur- death (hence, .Iowers life expectancy). As
face bursts, which doubles the amount of chapter I I I explained, protection can be ob-
fallout, or one air burst and one surface tained when matter is placed between the fall-
burst. out and people in general, the more matter
Weapon Design. Some weapons derive a
(the greater the mass) between a source of
greater portion of their energy from fis- radiation and a person, the greater the protec-
sion (as opposed to fusion) than others; tion. The degree of protection offered by var-
the more fission, the more fallout. The ious materials is described as a protection fac-
weapon yield affects the amount of fall- tor (PF). The adequacy of a given PF depends
out; the higher the yield of a given explo- on the intensity of the fallout. For example, a
sion, the greater the fallout. PF of 20 (typical of a home basement with
Wind. The speed and direction of the
earth piled over windows and against the
wind at various altitudes determines the walls) would reduce an outdoor radiation level
directions and distance from the explo- of 60 rem per hour to an indoor level of 3 rem
sion at which fallout is deposited, and in- per hour. In this case, a person outdoors for 10
fIuences fallout concentration. Winds typ- hours would almost certainly be killed by radi-
ically vary with the season; indeed, this ation, and a person in the basement shelter
variance is so great that it can affect would have a good chance of survival. But if
casualties by about a factor of three, as the outdoor level is not 60 reins per hour but
For exdmple, after the OTA analysis, was completed, 600 reins per hour, a PF of 20 is inadequate to
a new study was completed showing fatalities from a
save I ives.
counterforce attack with the current U S civil defense
posture to be 8 to 12 million without warning, and 5 to 8 Calculations of deaths from fallout are
million with warning. See Roger Sullivan et al , Civil made by combining:
Defense Needs of High-Risk Areas of the United States
(Arlington, Va System Planning Corporation, 1979), p. an assumed distribution of fallout, with
22 various intensities at various locations;
Ch. /VThree Attack Cases 85

Figure 16.Expected Casualties as a Function of Typical Monthly Winds Resulting From an Attack
on Selected Military Targets in the United States

1 I 1 I I I I I I I

I I I I I I 1 I I I
J F M A M J J A s 0 N D
Typical monthly wind

an assumed distribution of population but that does not mean that raising a PF above
within the areas where fallout is assumed 40 might not save an individuals Iife in reality.
to be deposited; and The calculations also show lower numbers of
an assumed distribution of PFs for the deaths when the winds do not blow fallout into
population. densely populated areas.
Some computer models use a grid (perhaps The studies mentioned previously made
4,000 yards on a side for a fine-grained model, separate calculations for attacks including
but much larger in other cases) and assume bomber and missile submarine bases, as well
that within each square of the grid the fallout as silos. Assuming that there is no preattack
intensity and population density are constant, evacuation, calculated deaths range from a
with PFs mixed. Other calculations use re- low of 2 million to a high of 22 million. The dif-
gional or nationwide averages. In general, the ferences result primarily from variations in
calculations show lower numbers of deaths assumptions regarding fallout protection: the
when they assume that the population is wide- high figure assumes approximately to degree
ly dispersed, and higher numbers when they of protection which people receive in their
take into account concentrations of popula- daily peacetime lives (PF of 3), and the IO W
tion. The calculations also show lower num- figure assumes that the entire population
bers of deaths when they assume high PFs; in moves after the attack to fallout shelters with
general, increasing PFs above 40 does not a PF of at least 25. A more reasonable assump-
reduce casualties much in the calculations, tion, that the fallout shelters which now exist
86 The Effects of Nuclear War -.

are utilized by people Iiving near them, pro- protection. On balance, it does not appear
duces a calculation of 14 million dead. The possible to sustain greater precision than to
same studies also assessed the effects of exten- say that studies of hypothetical counterforce
sive preattack evacuation (crisis relocation), attacks show deaths ranging from 1 million to
and found that it reduced the range of pre- 20 million, depending on the assumptions
dicted deaths. However, the assumptions re- used. However, the low end of this range
garding fallout protection, both for those who (deaths below the 8 to 10 million level) requires
are assumed to evacuate and for those who are quite optimistic assumptions, while the high
assumed to remain near home dominate the end of the range is plausible only on the
results. Further detail is in appendix D. assumption that the attack is not preceded by
Given the threat U.S. bombers pose to the a crisis period during which civilians are
Soviet Union, a Soviet preemptive counter- educated about fallout protection.
force attack on bomber bases would probably The data on injuries contained in the execu-
seek to destroy the aircraft and supporting tive branch studies are quite limited; for the
facilities rather than cratering the runways. To counterforce attacks, however, the results sug-
destroy airborne bombers launched on warn- gest that injuries would about equal fatalities.
ing of attack, an attacker might detonate
weapons in a spaced pattern over the base. Air- The Contamination Period
bursting weapons rather than ground-bursting For several days or weeks, radioactive con-
them could reduce the threat of fallout but in- tamination would be so intense that people in
crease casualties from blast and thermal ef- fallout areas would have to stay in shelters or
fects; if the weapons were detonated much evacuate. What might be called the shelter
above the optimum height of burst for max- period begins at each location when fallout
imizing overpressure on the ground, faIlout starts arriving and ends when people can leave
would be negligible and blast damage would their shelters long enough to do a days work.
be reduced. The attacks against missile sub- The length varies from place to place; many
marine bases are much less complex. Ususally places will receive no fallout, and some hot
a single high-yield weapon with medium-to- spots will be hazardous long after surrounding
good accuracy will destroy docks, piers, areas are safe. Note, however, that people
cranes, and other facilities and nearby cities, could go outside for brief periods before an 8-
factories, and people as well. hour day outside a shelter became safe, and
Accordingly, it is certain that if the only dif- could not live in houses with a low protection
ference between two attacks is that one at- factor for weeks afterwards. After 2 or 3
tacks only ICBM silos and the other attacks months people would ignore the residual radi-
bomber and missile submarine bases as well, ation, though it would be far higher than is
the latter attack would kill more people. How- considered safe in peacetime.
ever, the variations in assumptions made For the first 10 to 30 days, shelterers would
about attack design, weather, and fallout pro- have to remain in shelters almost all the time.
tection obscure this. Since these variations Brief excursions outside, for example, to ob-
reflect genuine uncertainties, it is not possible tain water or food, would substantialIy reduce
to determine which set of assumptions and the effective protection factor. Life in a shelter
which fatality calculation is most probable. would be difficult at best. People would not
However, some of the extreme assumptions do know if the shelter offered a sufficient PF, or
appear implausible. One Defense Department whether further attacks were imminent. The
study notes that its highest fatality figure shelter might be dark, as power could be out,
assumed the use of Soviet weapons larger than and windows would be covered with dirt. Un-
those which U.S. intelligence estimates the less the shelter had a good air filtration system,
Soviets possess. Very low fatality estimates the air would become clammy and smelly, and
assume abnormally low winds, an absence of carbon dioxide concentration would increase.
surface bursts, and /or virtually perfect fallout Supplies of food and water might or might not
Ch. IVThree Attack Cases 87

be adequate, depending on what people would increase the tension in a shelter. More-
brought and how many people were in a shel- over, nausea weakens people.
ter. Unless the shelter were specially stocked, Some people will be better off than others:
medical supplies would probably be inade- people in adequately equipped shelters of
quate. This would be a severe problem in light good PF; people who are neither very young,
of unhealthy conditions in shelters. People very old, or ill; people who have received little
who required special medicines would be or no radiation before entering the shelter;
threatened unless they could obtain an ade- people in less-crowded shelters. Moderate am-
quate supply. While most people would have bient temperature would be better than hot,
radios to receive broadcasts, few would have and hot would be better than cold. People in
two-way radios to transmit. While phones snow zones in the winter, however, would be
might or might not work, it would be difficult more Iikely than others to have adequate pro-
to obtain help, as anyone in a contaminated visions as a precaution against being stranded
area who left shelter would be in jeopardy at home by snow. I n addition, much would de-
from radiation. In particular, medical care pend on how shelterers used their time before
would probably be unavailable because of the fallout arrived to prepare the shelter.
radiation risk of going to a hospital and the Even if the winds were perverse, there would
tremendous number of patients seeking help at be substantial areas of the country that would
the few hospitals that remained open. receive little or no fallout. I n some cases (e. g.,
Oregon), it would be evident that no fallout
Radiation sickness would present special
could be expected unless the war continued
problems. Exposures too low to cause acute
after the counterforce attack; in other cases it
radiation sickness nevertheless weaken bodily
would be several days before people in an un-
resistance to infection. Resistance would also
contaminated area were certain that they had
be weakened by a deterioration in sanitation,
been among the lucky ones. Once it became
prolonged exposure to heat or cold, lack of
clear that a given area had been spared, the
medical care, psychological shock, and inade-
people living there could be expected to step
quate food, water, and medicine. Hence shel-
up their normal pace of activity. To the extent
terers would be especially vulnerable to con-
possible, help would be offered to the contam-
tagious diseases, ranging from colds and in-
inated areas. Depending on circumstances,
fluenza to typhoid fever. There is a trend in the
there might be large numbers of evacuees to
United States away from immunization; as a
care for. The major task, however, would be to
result, many would contract diseases they
keep the country going until the other surviv-
otherwise wouId not.
ors could emerge from shelters. Intense but
While many people would contract radia- rather disorganized activity would be likely,
tion sickness and Iive, it is very difficult for the and essential production would probably take
layman to determine whether an individual place.
showing pronounced symptoms of radiation Most productive resources would survive
sickness has received a moderate, severe, or unscathed, but would shut down until the
lethal dose of radiation. Moreover, acute psy- threat of attack had ended; those in fallout
chological shock induces symptoms similar to areas would remain closed until radiation
radiation sickness, and vomiting a symptom levels had diminished, with the possible excep-
of both is contagious in small spaces. Thus, tion of such critical services as radio stations,
someone who vomited would not know if he water pumping facilities, and sewage disposal
had received a moderate, severe, or lethal dose units. Some plants, and some sectors of the
of radiation; if he had severe psychological economy, would use productive resources as
shock; if he had vomited because of con- intensively as possible to meet the demands of
tagion; or if he had some other illness. This the damaged areas and the injured, and to
uncertainty about ones own condition and compensate for loss of production elsewhere.
that of ones loved ones, and nausea itself, The burden imposed on the economy by the
88 The Effects of Nuclear War

Armed Forces would depend on the interna- ly impaired. The major task would be ending
tional situation. disruption and disorganization rather than
rebuilding the economy putting the pieces
Economic Disruption back together. Most likely these tasks would
be accomplished by a mixture of individual,
Most economic damage would occur from
local, State, and Federal initiatives, with
lost production, but there would be other
Federal intervention used as a last resort.
losses as well: fires would burn unchallenged,
and machinery would suffer damage from The main problem areas would be:
being shut down in haste or not at all, or from
being left outside unprotected. The major 1. Agriculture. The attack could be expected
damage to the economy, however, would re- to destroy a tiny fraction of farmland with
sult from deaths and long-lasting injuries (to blast and fire; of much greater significance,
consumers and producers), and persona I trag- fallout would contaminate a substantial frac-
edies and other traumas making people less tion of cropland because many ICBMs are in or
able to work. The magnitude of economic loss near the Great Plains. Other cropland would
could be expected to vary with the number of escape with little or no fallout. It is unlikely
deaths. that more than a fraction of the livestock in
nearby fallout areas would be adequately pro-
The attack would cause considerable eco- tected. Fallout would affect agriculture in two
nomic disruption in the uncontaminated area. ways: by killing livestock and crops, and by
Facilities there would need to produce a vastly preventing farmers from working in the fields.
different mix of goods and cope with the ab-
sence of goods that normally come from con- Damage from fallout contamination of
taminated areas. Until people acted as if they crops would depend on the time of year. Most
believed the war was over, it could prove dif- crops take up relatively Iittle fallout and exter-
ficult to organize production in the uncon- nal irradiation does not contaminate them.
taminated areas. Uncertainties about the legal Moreover, it is easy enough to remove fallout
and financial arrangements that support pro- particles from food. However, the vulnerabil-
duction (money, contracts, credit, etc.) follow- ity of crops to fallout varies significantly with
ing a nuclear attack might impede production the type of crop and the stage of its growth.
in the uncontaminated areas. Some workers, For example, yield of various crops can be
fearing further attacks, would spontaneously reduced 50 percent by the following doses, in
evacuate. Public disorder could also impede roentgens (R): peas, less than 1,000 R; rye, 1,000
production. The changes and uncertainties to 2,000 R; wheat, corn, cucumber, 2,000 to
would cause some economic disruption; how- 4,000 R; cotton, melons, 6,000 to 8,000 R; soy-
ever, the greater effort put forth would prob- beans, beets, 800 to 12,000 R; rice, straw-
ably more than compensate for it. berries, 12,000 to 16,000 R; and squash, 16,000
to 24,000 R. At the same time, young plants are
most vulnerable to radiation, whiIe those near
Recuperation maturity are least vulnerable.
Economic viability would not be at issue Knowledge about radiation effects on crops
following a counterforce attack. Because the is, however, limited because much more is
attack seeks no economic damage, it would be known about how gamma radiation affects
far less likely than a deliberate strike on crops than about beta radiation effects. Since
economic targets to create any bottlenecks fallout emits both types, and since beta doses
that would greatly hinder recovery. The Nation to plants could be from 1 to 20 times the gam-
would be able to restore production and main- ma dose, this is a major uncertainty.
tain self-sufficiency. The attack would cause
enormous economic loss, but the Nations ca- Fallout would prevent farmers from working
pacity for growth would be at worst only slight- in fields for a time. Fallout does decay, and
Ch. IV Three Attack Cases . 89

weathering would further reduce its effects on 2. Decontamination. Cities, farms, and fac-
people. By a year after the attack, fallout tories in contaminated areas would require
would no longer be of consequence to farm- decontamination in order to reopen for human
workers in most areas. How soon after the at- use. Decontamination involves moving fallout
tack they could begin work would depend on to areas where it can do less harm in order to
the amount of fallout deposited on a field. reduce the dose rate to people in certain
places. It can be done with bulldozers, street
sweepers, firehoses, brooms, etc. It does,
The effects would thus depend significantly however, require people to place themselves
on time of year. An attack between October at risk. Would enough people be willing to run
and January would have little effect, as fallout these risks? Training is required for people to
would have decayed enough by planting time know that certain doses are tolerable and
to permit farmers to work the fields and to other doses are not; this training would make
avoid serious damage to crops. Radiation on people less unwilling to face these risks, but
fields could be substantially reduced by plow- wiII enough people have received this training?
ing the fallout under or by scraping off the top
layer of dirt. An attack in February or March 3. Public health standards would have to be
wouId delay planting, reducing crop yields or lowered following the attack. in peacetime,
making it necessary to shift to crops that standards are often set cautiously; when ac-
mature more quickly. An attack between April ceptable exposure risk is unknown, it is pref-
and June could kill the entire crop. An attack erable to err on the side of safety. Following
in J uly or August could conceivably have little the attack, that luxury would not be possible.
effect, if the plants were undamaged by radia- Fields would be farmed while low-level radio-
tion. But the resulting crop should be safe for activity persisted; the risks, quite unaccept-
human consumption in an emergency. An at- able in peacetime, wouId be preferable to star-
tack during or just before the harvest could vation. The cost-benefit ratio would change:
result in the loss of the whole crop, not by the benefits of individual safety would need to
damaging the plants, but by preventing be weighed against the costs of foregoing
farmers from harvesting. critical production. Moreover, how applicable
would our knowledge be for setting standards
for the entire population after an attack?
Fallout would be more damaging to live-
Could enough instruments be made available
stock than to plants. Animals are only slightly
to enable everyone to know what dose they
more resistant to radiation than are people; for
were receiving? And what role wouId politics
sheep, cattle, and pigs in barns, where they are
play in setting standards when acceptable
protected from direct contact with the inges-
risk rather than negligible risk was at issue?
tion of fallout, a dose of 400, 500, and 600 R,
Society would be running greater risks without
respectively, will kill half these animals. The
knowing just how great the risks were; so doing
median lethal dose is considerably lower for
wouId increase low-level radiation sickness,
animals in pastures, where they can eat fallout
cancers, genetic damage, and so on.
along with grass. Poultry are considered more
resistant; a dose of 850 R will halve the poultry 4. Burdens on society would increase, remov-
in a barn. Many animals in heavy fallout areas ing people from production while increasing
would probably be killed, as farmers generally demand on production. Many people would
have no fallout shelters for animals. Moreover, suffer long-lasting, permanent, or debilitating
depending on the damage the attack wreaks injuries. Demands for more military force
on human food crops, it might be necessary to could well increase. Inefficiencies stemming
use animal feed as human food. The conse- from economic dislocation would reduce the
quence could be that it would take many years outputs from any given set of inputs. Decon-
to rebuild the national livestock supply, and tamination and civil defense would draw
until then meat would become a scarce luxury. resources.
90 The Effects of Nuclear War

5. Economic disorganization would be a prob- Similarly, ecological damage would be

lem, possibly a severe one. Once people were caused mainly by countersilo attacks; this
confident that the war had ended, money topic is dealt with in chapter V.
would retain its value, and so would property
in uncontaminated areas. But the marketplace In the long run, the economy would recover,
that organizes the American economy would although it would be some decades before the
be severely disrupted by abrupt shifts in de- people killed would be replaced in either a
mand, abrupt changes in supply, questions demographic or an economic sense. There
about the validity of contracts involving peo- would undoubtedly be permanent shifts in de-
ple or things in contaminated areas, etc. In ad- mand (e. g., there might be little market for
dition, a major question would develop over houses without basements or fallout shelters),
how to share the losses from the attack in an and supply of some goods (notably m e a t )
equitable way. might be scarce for some time.
Long-Term Effects
An imponderable is the psychological im-
The main long-term damage would be pact. The United States has never suffered the
caused by countersilo strikes, which release loss of millions of people, and it is unlikely
the great bulk of radiation even if bomber and that the survivors would simply take it in
missile submarine bases are also attacked. stride. The suffering experienced by the South
Radiation has long-term health consequences, in the decade after 1860 provides the nearest
such as cancers, other illnesses, deaths, and analogy, and a case can be made that these ef-
genetic damage, that blast does not. fects took a century to wear off.


As in the case of the Soviet counterforce at- in an attack on Soviet bomber bases) would
tack on the United States (described in the pre- create very large amounts of fallout.
vious section), the main threat to the civiIian
As in the case of a counterforce attack on
population, economy, and society is derived
the United States, sheltering is preferable to
from fallout, while the damage done to the
evacuation for protection provided there are
strategic forces is outside the scope of this
no subsequent attacks. Depending on the time
study. Here too OTA drew on the executive
of year, the Soviets might have more difficulty
branch for calculations, and here too the un-
than the United States in improvising fallout
certainties are very great.
protection (both frozen earth and mud would
create problems); on the other hand, Soviet
preparations for such sheltering in peacetime
The First Day are more extensive than their U.S. counter-
Each of the parameters mentioned in the
previous section as affecting the damage to The executive branch has performed several
the United States would also affect the dam- calculations of fatalities resulting from coun-
age to the Soviet Union. An additional source terforce attacks, and variations in the assump-
of variation is pertinent: the U.S. missiles most- tions produce a range of estimates. All these
ly carry smaller warheads than their Soviet studies except one assume a Soviet first strike
counterparts, but U.S. bombers carry weapons and a U.S. retaliatory strike. As a result, esti-
with quite high yields. Ground bursts of bomb- mates of Soviet fatalities are lower than they
er-carried weapons (which are especialIy Iikely would be for a U.S. counterforce first strike,
Ch. IV Three Attack Cases 91

partly because the United States would have bombers were present) are attacked, tactical
fewer ICBMS available for a second strike, and warning could be of great importance to peo-
partly because the Soviets are more likely to ple living nearby. There would be an area near
take precautionary civil defense measures each base (roughly, the area more than 1 mile
before a Soviet first strike than before a U.S. [2 km] but less than 10 miles [16 km] from a sur-
first strike. All of these studies consider only face burst) in which people who were sheltered
fatalities in the so days following the attack; at the moment of the blast would have a much
they exclude later deaths resulting from rela- greater chance of survival than those who were
tively less intense radiation or the effects of unsheltered. Soviet civiI defense plans envis-
economic disruption. age that civilians in such high-threat areas
For both counterforce and countersilo at- would receive some warning, but it cannot be
tacks, with an in-place Soviet population, the said to what extent this would actually be the
fatality estimates are very similar: for the case.
former, from less than 1 to 5 percent of the Many millions of Soviet citizens Iive in areas
population; for the latter, from less than 1 to 4
that would receive substantial amounts of fall-
percent. The low end results from using
out from such an attack. Those far enough
smaller weapons air burst, while the high end away from the explosions to be safe from blast
results from using larger weapons ground
darnage would have some time (a range from
burst. A comprehensive counterforce attack
30 minutes to more than a day) to shelter them-
can logically be expected to kill more people
selves from fallout, but evacuation from high-
than the countersilo attack because the latter
faliout areas after the attack would probably
is a subset of the former. However, other fac-
not be feasible. The Soviet civil defense pro-
tors have a greater influnce on numbers of fa-
gram gives attention to blast shelters rather
talities: A full counterforce attack in which the
than fallout shelters in urban areas (see
United States deliberately tried to minimize
chapter I I l), and while such blast shelters
Soviet fatalities by using small weapons air would offer good protection against fallout,
burst, in which winds were favorable, and in
some of them may not be habitable for the
which the Soviets had tactical or strategic
necessary number of days or weeks for which
warning, would kill far fewer people than a protection would be required.
counters ilo-only attack in which the United
States used one large weapon ground burst The sheltering process would be much more
against each ICBM silo. tightly organized than in the United States.
An unpublished Arms Control and Disarma- The Soviet Government has extensive civil
ment Agency (AC DA) analysis highlights the defense plans, and while Americans would ex-
importance of sheltering and attack character- pect to try to save themselves under general
istics for fatal ities from a U.S. countersilo at- guidance (informational in character) from the
tack. One estimate is that, with the urban Federal authorities, Soviet citizens would ex-
population 90-percent sheltered and the rural pect the Government to tell them what to do.
population given a PF of 6, Soviet fatalities This introduces a further uncertainty: efficient
would range from 3.7 million to 13.5 million, and timely action by the authorities would be
depending on attack parameters. With a de- very effective, but it is also possible that
graded shelter posture (urban population 10- Soviet citizens would receive fatal radiation
percent sheltered and rural population given a doses while waiting for instructions or follow-
PF of 6), fatality estimates for the same set of ing mixed-up instructions. I n any event, some
attacks range from 6.0 m i I I ion to 27.7 miIIion. hours after the attack would see a situation in
which a large number of people in contam-
The Shelter Period inated areas were in fallout shelters, others
were receiving dangerous doses of radiation,
If bomber bases (or airfields with long run- and those outside the fallout areas were con-
ways that were attacked even though r-to gratulating themselves on their good luck
92 The Effects of Nuclear War
. . . .. . . - .... ..-.

while hoping that no further attacks would ment might send medical teams to contami-
take place. nated areas, especially to shelters containing
workers with key skills. The Soviet Army has
Would Soviet shelterers be better off than built tanks and some other military vehicles
their American counterparts? They have sev- with protection against fallout, and has trained
eral advantages. They are more accustomed to its soldiers for operations in areas contami-
crowding and austerity than are Americans, so nated with fallout. In addition, as in the United
would probably suffer less shelter shock. States, military helicopters could ferry people
They would be more accustomed to following and supplies into contaminated areas with
Government orders, so to the extent that limited exposure to crews. Using such re-
orders proved correct and were correctly im- sources would obviously improve health of
plemented, they would be more evenly distrib- shelterers, but priority military tasks might
uted among shelters. Training in first aid and make these miIitary resources unavailable.
civil defense is widespread, which would im-
prove peoples ability to survive in shelters. If People in hasty shelters, if they could be
the U.S. attack used low-yield warheads, fall- built, would face worse health problems,
out would be less widespread and less intense. despite the legendary ability of Russians to en-
dure hardships. Presumably these shelters
Soviet shelterers face some problems that would have inadequate supplies, heat, air fil-
Americans would not. They would be more vul- tration, sanitary facilities, waterproofing, and
nerable than Americans to an attack in winter. so on. Placing people in a cold, damp hole in
The Soviet economy has less fat, so other the ground for 2 weeks with little food and
things being equal, Soviet citizens could bring makeshift toilets would make many people
less food and supplies into shelters than could sick even in peacetime; how well would such
Americans. problems be overcome in war?
Public health is a major uncertainty. To the Soviet civil defense presents a large ques-
extent that shelters are well stocked, provided tion mark. Some believe that the Soviets have
with adequate medications and safe ventila- massive food stockpiles, meticulous plans
tion, have necessary sanitary facilities, are detailing where each person should go, ample
warm and uncrowded, and have some people shelter spaces, subways and buildings converti-
with first aid knowledge, health would be less ble to shelters, and so on that would be valu-
of a problem. If Soviet citizens receive less able in the shelter period. Others contend that
fallout than Americans, they would be less these claims are vastly overstated and confuse
weakened by radiation sickness and more re- speculation about a plan with its existence and
sistant to disease. If conditions were austere the existence of a plan with its operational ef-
but reasonably healthy, public health in shel- fectiveness. (See chapter III on civil defense.)
ters would be mainly a matter of isolating ill If Soviet civil defense works well, it would save
people and practicing preventive medicine for many lives; if it doesnt, Soviet shelterers
the others. Doctors would be unnecessary for would face conditions at least as hazardous as
most such tasks; people trained in first aid, es- their American counterparts.
pecially if they have some access (by phone or
radio) to doctors, could perform most tasks. To Agricultural losses would, as in the United
be sure, some people would die from being un- States, depend on the time of the year when
treated, but the number would be relatively the attack came and on the precise patterns of
small if preventive care worked. However, iso- fallout. In general, Soviet agriculture appears
lating the ill would not be easy. It is likely that more vulnerable because it borders on inade-
many people would be moderately ill (from quacy even in peacetimeeven relatively
flu, etc.) when they entered their shelter, and minor damage would hurt, and major crop
radiation would make the others more sus- losses could be catastrophic. On the other
ceptible to contamination. The Soviet Govern- hand, for this very reason the Soviets would
Ch. IVThree Attack Cases 93

know how to handle agricultural shortages: In the U. S. S. R., as in the United States, the
surviving production and stockpiles (the extent crop loss caused by the attack would depend
of Soviet food stockpiles is a matter of con- on season, fallout deposition, which crops
troversy, apart from the fact that they are were hit by fallout, and so on. Similarly, the
lowest just before each harvest) would prob- amount of food reserves would vary with the
ably be used efficiently. season. The immediate goal for agriculture
would be to send adequate food supplies to
The economy outside the contaminated cities. Presumably, the Government would try
area would continue to function. There would to meet this goal by tightening controls rather
be more than enough industrial facilities in un- than by giving farmers more capitalistic incen-
contaminated areas to keep necessary produc- tives. For a moderate attack like this one, with
tion going. The key task facing Government little physical damage, controls would prob-
planners, however, would be using available ably work.
workers and resources to best advantage. How
fast could planners generate new economic It is questionable whether adequate labor
plans that were detailed enough for that task? would be available for agriculture. Depending
Because the Soviet economy operates closer on the situation, millions of men might be
to the margin than does that of the United mobilized into the Army. On the other hand
States, the Soviets could tolerate less loss of the Soviets have well-established procedures
production than could the United States. This for getting military personnel, factory workers,
would make superproduction the norm, with and others to help with harvests; moreover,
key factories working all the time. It would following a nuclear attack, some workers in
lead to suspending production of many con- nonessential industries would be out of work,
sumer goods. It would probably lead the Cov- and could be sent to farms. The large number
ernment to begin decontamination earlier and of farmers (perhaps 35 to 40 percent of the
to take more risks with radiation exposure than Soviet work force is in agriculture, compared
would the United States. These actions to in- to 2 or 3 percent in the United States), the
crease production would be aided in general fallout contaminating some farmland, and ac-
by the Governments control of the economy, cepting more exposure to radiation would in-
and in particular by keeping work groups crease the Soviet populations exposure to
together in shelters and host areas. radiation.

If a years crop were lost, would there be

austerity, short rations, or starvation? How
much surplus food is there? In particular,
As in the United States, economic viability would there be enough to maintain a livestock
would not be threatened. The key question, industry, or would meat be seen as a nonessen-
which would begin to be answered in the shel- tial consumer good and feed grains diverted
ter period, is how appropriate Soviet emer- for human use?
gency plans are and how rapidly planning mis-
takes could be corrected. Major shifts, and the As in the United States, the attack would
inefficiencies that accompany them, would be create many burdens for the Soviet economy.
inevitable. To what extent could planning Military expenditures would probably in-
minimize them? Could a command economy crease; people injured by the attack would
do better under the circumstances than a need care, and fewer people would be alive
mixed economy? The Soviet Unions long ex- and well to care for them; major changes in the
perience with central planning would mean economy would cause inefficiencies; lowered
that the changes would involve details within public health standards would increase early
the existing system rather than changing from production at the expense of later health
one economic system to another. burdens.
94 The Effects of Nuclear War

The Soviet Union would not face certain Long-Term Effects

problems that a market economy faces. The
Chapter V discusses the likely long-term
legal and financial devices supporting produc-
health hazards from such an attack.
tion money, credit, contracts, and ownership
of productive resources would be far less im- All things considered, an attack of this
portant than in the United States. Instead, nature could be somewhat less damaging than
Soviet production would be guided by a cen- World War II was to the Soviet Union, and
tral plan. There are reports that contingency Soviet recovery from that conflict was com-
planning has been done for postwar recupera- plete. However, it helped that in 1945 the
tion; such contingency plans (or the peacetime Soviets were victorious and able to draw on
plan if there are no applicable contingency resources from Eastern Europe. Much would
plans) would have to be adjusted to take ac- depend on whether the aftermath of this at-
count of the actual availability of surviving tack found the Soviet people pleased or ap-
workers and economic assets. Without doubt palled at the results of the war and on the
such adjustments would be made, though relative power and attitudes of the Soviets
there would be some waste and inefficiency. neighbors.



This case discusses a massive attack that most immediate effects would be the loss of
one normally associates with all-out nuclear millions of human lives, accompanied by simi-
war. The attack uses thousands of warheads to lar incomprehensible levels of injuries, and the
attack urban-industrial targets, strategic tar- physical destruction of a high percentage of
gets, and other military targets. The number of U.S. economic and industrial capacity. The full
deaths and the damage and destruction in- range of effects resulting from several thou-
flicted on the U.S. society and economy by the sand warheads most having yields of a mega-
sheer magnitude of such an attack would ton or greater impacting on or near U.S.
place in question whether the United States cities can only be discussed in terms of uncer-
would ever recover its position as an orga- tainty and speculation. The executive branch
nized, industrial, and powerful country. studies that addressed this level of attack
report a wide range of fatality levels reflecting
OTA favored examining purely retaliatory
various assumptions about the size of the at-
strikes for both sides, but all of the available
tack, the protective posture of the population,
executive branch studies involved Soviet pre
and the proportion of air bursts to ground
emption and U.S. retaliation. However, the dif-
burst weapons.
ferences between a Soviet first strike and a
retaliation do not appear to be appreciably The DOD 1977 study estimated that 155 mil-
large in terms of damage to the civilian struc- lion to 165 million Americans would be killed
ture. Like the United States, the Soviets have a by this attack if no civil defense measures were
secure second-strike force in their SLBMs and taken and all weapons were ground burst.
are assumed to target them generally against DCPA looked at a similar attack in 1978 where
the softer urban-industrial targets. Moreover, a only half the weapons were ground burst; it
U.S. first strike would be unlikely to destroy reduced the fatality estimate to 122 million.
the bulk of Soviet ICBMs before they could be ACDAs analysis of a similar case estimated
launched in retaliation. that 105 million to 131 million would die.
The effects of a large Soviet attack against If people made use of existing shelters near
the United States would be devastating. The their homes, the 155 million to 165 million
Ch. IVThree Attack Cases 95

fatality estimate would be reduced to 110 mil- dling the dead) for most survivors would be to
lion to 14s million, and the 122 million fatal- get reliable information about what has oc-
ities to 100 million. The comparable ACDA curred, what is taking place, and what is ex-
fatality estimate drops to 76 million to 85 pected. Experience has shown that in a disaster
million. Again ACDA gets a lower figure Situation, timely and relevant information is
through assuming air bursts for about 60 per- critical to avoiding panic, helpful in organizing
cent of the incoming weapons. Finally, if urban and directing productive recovery efforts, and
populations were evacuated from risk areas, therapeutic to the overall psychological and
the estimated prompt fatality levels would be physical well being of those involved. Presum-
substantially reduced. The DOD study showed ably, the civil preparedness functions would
fatalities of 40 million to 55 million, with be operating well enough to meet some of this
DCPA showing a very large drop to 20 million need.
from the 100 mill ion level. The primary reason
for the 2-to-1 differential is the degree of pro- Rescuing and treating the injured will have
tection from fallout assumed for the evac- to be done against near insurmountable odds.
uated population. Fire and rescue vehicles and equipment not de-
stroyed wil I find it impossible to move about in
In summary, U.S. fatality estimates range any direction. Fires wilI be raging, water mains
from a high of 155 million to 165 million to a will be flooding, powerlines will be down,
low of 20 million to 55 million. Fatalities of this bridges will be gone, freeway overpasses will
magnitude beg the question of injuries to the be collapsed, and debris will be everywhere.
People will be buried under heavy debris and
survivors. None of the analyses attempted to
estimate injuries with the same precision used structures, a n d w i t h o u t p r o p e r e q u i p m e n t
in estimated fatalities. However, DCPA did capable of lifting such loads, the injured can-
provide injury estimates ranging from 33 mil- not be reached and will not survive. The for-
lion to 12 million, depending on circum- tunate ones that rescuers can reach will then
stances. An additional point worth noting is be faced with the unavailability of treatment
facilities. Hospitals and clinics in downtown
that al I of the fatality figures just discussed are
for the first 30 days following the attack; they areas would likely have been destroyed along
with most of their stocks of medical supplies.
do not account for subsequent deaths among
Doctors, nurses, and technicians needed to
the injured or from economic disruption and
deprivation. man makeshift treatment centers are likely to
have been among the casualties. The entire
area of holocaust will be further numbed by
The First Few Hours either the real or imagined danger of fallout.
People will not know whether they should try
The devastation caused by a single l-Mt to evacuate their damaged city, or attempt to
weapon over Detroit (chapter I l), and of two seek shelter from fallout in local areas and
similar weapons denoted near Philadelphia, hope there will be no new attacks. No doubt
have been described. In this attack the same some of both wouId be done.
destruction would take place in 30 or so other
If this situation were an isolated incident or
major cities (with populations of a million or
even part of a smalI number of destroyed cities
greater). Many cities with smaller populations
in an otherwise healthy United States, outside
would also be destroyed. The effects on U.S.
help would certainly be available. But if 250
society would be catastrophic.
U.S. cities are struck and damaged to similar
The majority of urban deaths will be blast in- levels, then one must ask, Who is able to
duced, e.g., victims of collapsing buildings, fly- help? Smaller towns are limited in the amount
ing debris, being blown into objects, etc. Ex- of assistance they can provide their metropoli-
cept for administering to the injured, the next tan neighbors. It is doubtful that there would
most pressing thing (probably ahead of han- be a strong urge to buck the tide of evacuation
in order to reach a place where most of the At the time when fallout radiation first be-
natives are trying to leave. Additionally, the comes intense, only a fraction of the surviving
smaller cities and towns would have their own urban population will be in adequate fallout
preparedness problems of coping with the an- shelters. Those that are sheltered will face a
ticipated arrival of fallout plus the influx of variety of problems: making do with existing
refugees. In light of these and other considera- stocks of food, water, and other necessities or
tions, it appears that in an attack of this else minimizing exposure while leaving the
magnitude, there is Iikely not to be substantial shelter for supplies; dealing with problems of
outside assistance for the targeted areas until sanitation, which will not only create health
prospective helpers are convinced of two hazards but also exacerbate the social tensions
things: the attack is over, and fallout intensity of crowds of frightened people in a small
has reached safe levels. Neither of these condi- space; dealing with additional people wanting
tions is likely to be met in the first few hours. to enter the shelter, who would not only want
to share scarce supplies but might bring con-
tamination in with them; dealing with disease,
The First Few Days which would be exacerbated not only by the
effects of radiation but by psychosomatic fac-
Survivors will continue to be faced with the tors; and finally judging when it is safe to ven-
decision whether to evacuate or seek shelter in ture out. Boredom will gradually replace
place during this interval. The competence and panic, but will be no easier to cope with. Those
credibility of authority will be under con- with inadequate shelters or no shelters at all
tinuous question. Will survivors be told the will die in large numbers, either from lethal
facts, or what is best for them to know, and doses of radiation or from the combination of
who decides? Deaths will have climbed due to other hazards with weakness induced by radia-
untreated injuries, sickness, shock, and poor tion sickness.
judgement. Many people will decide to at-
tempt evacuation simply to escape the reality The conditions cited above are generally
of the environment. For those staying, it likely more applicable to urbanites who are trying to
means the beginning of an extended period of survive. The problems of rural survivors are
shelter survival. Ideally, shelters must protect somewhat different, some being simpler
from radiation while meeting the minimums of others more complex. With warning, people
comfort, subsistence, and personal hygiene. living in rural areas could readily fabricate
Convincing people to remain in shelters until adequate fallout shelters. However, it might be
radiation levels are safely low will be difficult, more diifficult for a rural shelteree to have cur-
but probably no more so than convincing them rent and accurate information regarding fall-
that it is safe to leave on the basis of a radi- out intensity and location. The farm family is
ation-rate meter reading. T h e r e w i l l b e likely not to have suffered the traumatic ex-
unanswerable questions on long-term effects. posure to death and destruction, and conse-
quently is probably better prepared psycho-
Sheltering the survivors in the populous logically to spend the required time in a shel-
Boston to Norfolk corridor will present un- ter. (Possible consequences to livestock and
precedented problems. Almost one-fifth of the crops are addressed later in this section. )
U.S. population lives in this small, 150- by 550-
mile [250 by 900 km] area. Aside from the Outdoor activity in or near major cities that
threat of destruction from direct attack, these were struck would likely be limited to emer-
populations are in the path of fallout from at- gency crews attempting to control fires or con-
tacks on missile silos and many industrial tar- tinuing to rescue the injured. Crews would
gets in the Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and Duluth tri- wear protective clothing but it would be neces-
angle. Depending on the winds at altitude, the sary to severely limit the total work hours of
fallout from the Midwest will begin arriving 12 any one crew member, so as not to risk danger-
to 30 hours after the attack. ous accumulations of radiation. Areas not
Ch. IVThree Attack Cases 97

threatened by fallout could begin more delib- overall psychological effects will likely worsen
erate fire control and rescue operations. until they become a major national concern,
Whether a national facility would survive to perhaps on the same level with other incapaci-
identify weapons impact points and predict tating injuries.
fallout patterns is doubtful.
Deaths occurring within the first 30 days of
The extent of death and destruction to the an attack are categorized as prompt fatalities.
Nation would still be unknown. For the most This duration is a computation standard more
part, the agencies responsible for assembling than it is related to specific death-producing
such information would not be functioning. effects, and is the basis for most fatality
This task would have to wait until the numbing estimates. However, deaths from burns, in-
effect of the attack had worn off, and the juries, and radiation sickness can be expected
Government could once again begin to func- to continue far beyond this particular interval.
tion, however precariously.
The Recuperation Period
The Shelter Period (Up to a Month)
Whether economic recovery would take
As noted earlier, after the initial shock place, and if so what form it would take, would
period, including locating and getting settled depend both on the physical survival of
in shelters, the problem of sheltering large enough people and resources to sustain recov-
masses of people will be compounded as the ery, and on the question of whether these sur-
shelter time extends. Survival will remain the vivors couId adequately organize themselves.
key concern. People will experience or witness
Physical survival of some people is quite
radiation death and sickness for the first time.
probable, and even a population of a few mil-
Many previously untreated injuries will require
lion can sustain a reasonably modern economy
medical attention, if permanent damage or
under favorable circumstances. The survivors
death to the individual is to be avoided. Stock-
would not be a cross-section of prewar Amer-
piles of medical, food, and water supplies are
ica, since people who had Iived in rural areas
sure to become items of utmost concern.
would be more likely to survive than the inhab-
Whether some people can safely venture out-
itants of cities and suburbs. The surviving
side the shelter for short periods to forage for
population would lack some key industrial and
uncontaminated supplies will depend on fall-
technical skills; on the other hand, rural people
out intensity, and the availability of reliable
and those urban people who wouId survive are
means of measuring it.
generally hardier than the American average.
This period will continue to be marked by
While the absolute level of surviving stocks
more inactivity than activity. Many areas will
of materials and products would seem low by
have been freed from the fallout threat either
prewar standards, there would be a much
by rain, shifting winds, or distance from the
smaller population to use these stocks. Apart
detonations. But economic activity will not from medicines (which tend to have a short
resume immediately. Workers wilI remain con-
shelf life and which are manufactured exclu-
cerned about their immediate families and
sively in urban areas), there would probably
may not want to risk leaving them. Informa-
not be any essential commodity of which sup-
tion and instruction may not be forthcoming,
plies were desperately short at first. A lack of
and if it is, it may be confusing and misleading, medicines wouId accentuate the smallness and
and of little use. Uncertainty and frustration
hardiness of the surviving population.
will plague the survivors, and even the most
minor tasks wilI require efforts far out of pro- Restoring production would be a much more
portion to their difficulty. Many will interpret difficult task than finding interim stockpiles.
this as symptomatic of radiation effects and Production in the United States is extremely
become further confused and depressed. The complex, involving many intermediate stages.
98 . The Effects of Nuclear War

Photo credit: U.S. Air Force

A part of Hiroshima after atomic blast

New patterns of production, which did not rely Physical security comes firsta person is re-
on facilities that have been destroyed, would luctant to leave home to go to work without
have to be established. some assurance that the home will not be
It cannot be said whether the productive looted. While some degree of law and order
facilities that physically survived (undamaged could probably be maintained in localities
or repairable with available supplies and skills) where a fairly dense population survived, the
would be adequate to sustain recovery. It remaining highways might become quite un-
seems probable that there would be enough safe, which would reduce trade over substan-
equipment and that scavenging among the tial distances. The second requirement is some
ruins could provide adequate raw materials form of payment for work. Barter is notorious-
where natural resources were no longer ac- ly inefficient. Payment by fiat (for example,
cessible with surviving technology. those who work get Government ration cards)
is inefficient as well, and requires a Govern-
The most serious problems would be organi- ment stronger than a postwar United States
zational. Industrial society depends on the would be Iikely to inherit. A strong Govern-
division of labor, and the division of labor ment might grow up, but most survivin g citi-
depends on certain governmental functions, zens would be reluctant to support a dictator-
Ch. IVThree Attack Cases 99

ship by whatever name. The best solution is a destruction of their associated institutions is
viable monetary system, but it would not be still another compounding of effects that is
easy to establish. Regions or localities might overlooked by some recovery estimates. Who
develop their own monies, with foreign could calculate how long to get over the loss
trade among regions. of Wall Street, an MIT, a Mayo Clinic, and the
The surviving resources might not be used
very efficiently. Ideally one would want to The American way of life is characterized by
conduct a national survey of surviving assets, material possessions, with private ownership
but the surviving Government would probably of items representing substantial long-term in-
not be capable of doing so, especially since vestments (such as homes, businesses, and
people would fear that to acknowledge a surviv- automobiles) being the rule rather than excep-
ing stock was to invite its confiscation. To tion. Widespread loss of individual assets such
make use of surviving factories, workers would as these could have a strong, lasting effect on
have to live nearby, and they might be unwill- our social structure. Similarly, the question of
ing to do so in the absence of minimally ade- whether individual right to ownership of sur-
quate housing for their families. Ownership of viving assets would remain unchanged in a
some assets would be hopelessly confused, postattack environment would arise. For exam-
which wouId diminish the incentives for invest- ple, the Government might find it necessary to
ment or even temporary repairs. force persons having homes to house families
who had lost their homes.
There is a possibility that the country might
break up into several regional entities. If these The family group would be particularly hard
came into conflict with each other there would hit by the effects of general nuclear war.
be further waste and destruction. Deaths, severe injuries, forced separation, and
loss of contact could place inordinate strains
In effect, the country would enter a race,
on the family structure.
with economic viability as the prize. The coun-
try would try to restore production to the point Finally, major changes should be antici-
where consumption of stocks and the wearing pated in the societal structure, as survivors at-
out of surviving goods and tools was matched tempt to adapt to a severe and desponding en-
by new production. If this was achieved before vironment never before experienced. The loss
stocks ran out, then viability would be at- of a hundred million people, mostly in the
tained. Otherwise, consumption would neces- larger cities, could raise a question on the ad-
sarily sink to the level of new production and visability of rebuilding the cities. (Why recon-
in so doing would probably depress production struct obvious targets for a nuclear Armaged-
further, creating a downward spiral. At some don of the future?) The surviving population
point this spiral would stop, but by the time it could seek to alter the social and geopolitical
did so the United States might have returned structure of the rebuilding nation in hopes of
to the economic equivalent of the Middle minimizing the effects of any future confIicts.
How well the U.S. political structure might
The effect of an all-out attack would be recover from a large-scale nuclear attack de-
equally devastating to the U.S. social struc- pends on a number of uncertainties. First, with
ture. Heavy fatalities in the major urban areas warning, national level officials are presumed
would deprive the country of a high percent- to evacuate to outlying shelter areas; State and
age of its top business executives, Government local authorities will take similar precautions,
officiaIs, medicaI speciaIists, scientists, but probably with less success, especially at
educators, and performers. There is no meas- the lower levels. The confidence and credibili-
ure for estimating the impact of such lasting ty of the system will come under severe strains
losses on our society. In addition to the ir- as relief and recovery programs are imple
replaceable loss of genius and talents, the mented. Changes in an already weakened
100 The Effects of Nuclear War

structure are sure to result as many normal alternative possibility is martial law, which
practices and routines are set aside to facili- might be controlled in theory but decentral-
tate recovery. Survivors may demand more im- ized in practice.
mediate expressions of their likes, dislikes, and All of this assumes that there would be no
needs. Widespread dissatisfaction could result significant ecological damage, a possibility
in a weakening of the Federal process, leading discussed in chapter V. Chapter V also dis-
to a new emphasis on local government. An cusses long-term health hazards.



A U.S. retaliatory attack against the Soviet Soviet population) to a low of 50 million to 80
Union would destroy 70 to 80 percent of its million (20 to 32 percent). The high-value range
economic worth. The attacking force would is due to the different data bases used by DOD
consist primarily of U.S. strategic bombers and and ACDA and the higher protection levels
Poseidon/Polaris SLBMs, since most U.S. land- assumed by AC DA. The low-value range results
based ICBMs are assumed lost to a Soviet first from the use of day-to-day alert status by the
strike. Bombers carry gravity bombs and short- interagency intelligence study as compared to
range attack missiles having yields of about 1 ACDAs use of generated forces, and the types
Mt and 200 kt respectively. Poseidon SLBMs of weapons used against the economic target
nominally carry up to 10 RVs of 40 kt each. base in the two studies. With evacuation, the
ACDA study estimated that fatalities would be
The attack would strike the full set of Soviet
reduced to 23 million to 34 million. It is dif-
targets strategic offensive forces, other mil-
ficult to judge whether these figures represent
itary targets, economic targets, and cities.
a high or low estimate. They could be consid-
Population would in fact be struck, although
ered as representing the low side because of
killing people would not be an attack objec-
the coarseness of Soviet data as used by
tive in itself. The objectives would be to cause
ACDA. On the other hand, some would say
as much industrial damage as possible and to
that the evacuation scheme assumed by ACDA
make economic recovery as difficult as possi-
was unrealistic, and the results should be con-
ble. The attacks might not be limited in time. sidered a high estimate. Nevertheless, Soviet
Concentrations of evacuees would probably fatalities are lower than the United States for
not be struck, but industries that recovered
both in-place and evacuated population pos-
very quickly after the attack could be.
tures. The lower Soviet fatalities are again pri-
The immediate effects of the attack would marily due to major differences in the yields of
be death and injury to millions of Soviet citi- the weapons detonating in each country, and
zens, plus the destruction of a large percent- to the greater proportion of Soviet population
age of Soviet economic and industrial capaci- that lives in rural areas.
ty. As with the all-out Soviet attack, the execu-
As to the cause of fatalities (blast, thermal
tive branch studies provided a wide range of
radiation, and direct nuclear radiation versus
casualty estimates. Since the thrust of those
fallout radiation), DCPA data suggests that, in
analyses was to look at the potential effec-
large attacks, that is, attacks that include
tiveness of Soviet civil defense, casualties
economic or economic and population targets,
were estimated under various assumptions re
fatalities are primarily due to prompt effects
Iated to the posture of the population.
as opposed to fallout. Prompt effects account
If the Soviet population remained in-place, for at least 80 percent of the fatalities for all
fatality estimates range from a high of 64 mil- population postures when economic targets or
lion to 100 million (26 to 40 percent of the population are included in the attack. ACDA
Ch. /VThree Attack Cases 101

notes a similar result in its study for attacks war appeared certain; or war through miscal-
that include counterforce and other military culation. I n any event, a Soviet decision to
targets. The reason for this is that in attacks on strike first would allow the Soviets to make
targets near urban areas, that is, attacks involv- preparationsdistribute supplies, improve
ing economic targets or popuIation, those pro- and stock shelters, increase production of
tected enough to survive the blast effects also essential goods, harvest grain, protect Iive-
have enough protection to survive the fallout. stock, conduct civil defense training, harden
Conversely, those who do not have enough industrial facilities, and so on. These actions
protection against fallout in urban areas near would also make Soviet citizens more respon-
targets will not have enough protection against sive to civil defense instructions, especially to
prompt effects and will already be dead before a warning that an attack was underway. While
fallout has an effect. these actions would be observed by the United
States, they would be more ambiguous than an
Estimates of Soviet injuries were generally evacuation, so the United States could see
not included in the analyses. However, one them as safeguarding against an attack rather
study suggested that injuries might be roughly than preparing for one.
equal to fatalities under certain attack and ex-
posure assumptions. The effects of evacuation in reducing casu-
alties could be diluted to some extent by vary-
ing U.S. attack strategy. Spreading the attack
The First Few Hours over a period of time could extend shelter peri-
As chapter 11 I notes, Soviet civil defense can ods, enhance economic disruption, and delay
have substantial impact on the full range of ef- rescue and emergency operations.
fects. Fallout shelters, blast shelters, and in- The Soviet Union, despite its vast geograph-
dustrial hardening can reduce the overall dam- ical size, is vulnerable to an urban/industrial
age from nuclear attack. First aid and civil attack in many of the same ways as the United
defense training can ameliorate health prob- States. Although there has been extensive pub-
lems. Storing supplies in shelters lengthens licity on their reported dispersal of industry, in-
shelter stay time. Thus, the issue is how well dications are that population and industry are
Soviet civil defense would in fact work. Many becoming more and more concentrated. While
unknowns numbers of shelters, amount of some industries may have been moved away
f o o d a n d m e d i c i n e stock piIes, small er from cities, many others have been built near
amounts of surplus resources than the United cities. Indeed, some of the industries recently
Statesprevent a judgment in detail. It seems built away from cities are themselves so con-
safe to assume, however, that Soviet civiI de- centrated that they form new targets of their
fense measures would be at least as effective own. Hedrick Smith describes
as U.S. measures and probably better.
the Kama River Truck Plant as an arche-
Preattack preparations would have a de- type of the gigantomania of Soviet planners,
cided influence on damage caused. Since a as a symbol of the Soviet faith that bigger
U.S. retaliatory attack is by definition pre- means better and the Soviet determination to
ceded by a Soviet first strike, it would seem have the biggest at any cost.
logical that some evacuation would have oc- Kama is the kind of massive crash project
curred. However, there are reasons why evac- that appeals to Russians. It emanates brute
uation might not have taken place. These in- strength. In 1971, Soviet construction brigades
started from scratch to build t h e w o r l d s
clude the following Soviet concerns: an evac-
largest truck plant in the open, rolling, wind-
uation could increase the risk of a U.S. attack;
swept plains about 600 miles east of M o s -
the U.S. attack might be so close at hand that cow Kama was not just one factory but six,
an evacuation couId increase casualties; a pro- all huge The production complex, costing
longed evacuation might be such an economic in the bilIions, occupies 23 square miles, an
disruption that it would be better to wait until area larger than the entire island of Manhat-
102 The Effects of Nuclear War

tan. At full capacity, Kama is slated to pro- percent of a factorys output is produced in
duce 150,000 heavy trucks and 250,000 diesel the last 10 or 15 days of the month. (This 80
engines a year, dwarfing anything in Detroit or percent is typically of such reduced quality
the German Ruhr.6 that Soviet consumers often refuse to buy mer-
The attack could cause derussification. chandise made after the 20th of a month. ) Hy-
The U.S.S.R. is a nation of nationalities, of pothetically, an attack around the 15th or 20th
which Great Russians who dominate politics, of a month would cause the loss of most of a
industry, and much else comprise about 48.5 months production, and would destroy the
percent of the population. Most Great Rus- large inventory in factories of partially com-
sians live in cities, so an attack would reduce pleted goods and of inputs that cannot be used
their numbers and influence. Derussification until other inputs arrive.
could weaken Great Russians control of the
On the other hand, the U.S.S.R. has several
U. S. S. R., with unforeseeable consequences.
strengths. Cities are in general less flammable
Timing makes a critical difference in de- than U.S. cities, as there are more large apart-
struction. An attack at night would have peo- ment buildings and fewer wood frame houses.
ple with their families and more dispersed; These buildings would also provide better
they would seek shelter in apartment build- shelter, especially those that have shelters
ings. An attack during the day would strike built in. People would expect to follow instruc-
people at factories and offices; to the extent tions and would be less likely to evacuate
they left to find family members, chaos would spontaneously. The Party apparatus would
result as in the United States, but to the extent probably survive with a far lower casualty rate
they sought shelter at work, they would be or- than the population at large because it is well
ganized by economic task. Such organization distributed and because blast shelters have
would be useful for postattack recovery. been constructed for party members. Russians
are likely to be less traumatized by shelter con-
An attack in winter would expose more peo-
ditions, as they are more accustomed to aus-
ple to bitter cold and impede evacuation; an
terity and crowding. The nation is larger, which
attack in spring or fall, when many roads are
in theory provides more land area over which
made impassable by mud, would hinder evac-
people could relocate, but much of the area is
uation by motor vehicle. An attack near har-
mountain, desert, or arctic.
vest time could result in the loss of an entire
years crop, thus leaving food reserves at a low
point. This effect could be magnified if the
United States attacked agricultural targets,
The First Few Days
such as storage silos, dams, and drainage facil- Actions in this period would greatly affect
ities. the number of casualties and the amount of
Even time of month makes a difference be- economic damage. Obviously, much damage
cause of the Soviet practice of storming. The would have been caused in the first hour.
Soviet factory month in practice divides into Many people trapped in the rubble could be
three periods: sleeping, the first 10 days; rescued, would be seriously injured but could
hot work, the second 10; and feverish survive with medical care or first aid, would be
work, the third. This division occurs because able to seek shelter or evacuate, could prepare
the economic plan calls for a specified output hasty fallout shelters, could improve existing
from each plant by the end of the month, but shelters, and so on. Some industries would be
the inputs needed often arrive only after the damaged but not destroyed; if small fires were
15th or 20th of the month. Thus, perhaps 80 extinguished, undamaged equipment hard-
ened against blast, exposed equipment pro-
tected from rust, and so on, more resources
Hedrick Smith, The Russians (New York: Ballantine would be available for recovery. Likewise,
Books, 1977), p. 241. farms could harvest crops, shelter livestock,
Ch. IVThree Attack Cases 103

and protect harvested crops in the few days Undamaged areas, especially those not
before fallout deposition. threatened by heavy fallout, wouId face severe
burdens. They would receive many evacuees in
the first few days, would send rescue teams
The issue is not what could be done but and resources to devastated areas, and would
what would be done. Proper use of time or- strive to produce as much as possible. Evac-
ganization and prioritization to get the most uees in undamaged areas would be pressed
important tasks done with the least wasted ef- into work in fields and factories, and would be
fort and resources would be critical. The sheltered in public buildings or private homes.
Soviet system offers a major advantage in this The performance of undamaged areas would
period. As we noted in the case of a counter- thus largely determine the nations ability to
force attack, the Governments role in this prosecute the war and to achieve economic
crisis would be more clearly defined, and its viability. The Government would, however,
control over individual action and the econ- face a dilemma in how to use resources surviv-
omy would be much stronger than that of the ing in undamaged areas: it could maximize
U.S. Government in a comparable situation. Its current production, leaving workers and re-
experience with central planning and a com- sources vulnerable to further attacks, or it
mand economy would be good preparation for could seek to protect workers and resources,
the actions needed decisions involving large thus reducing current production. The specific
shifts in behavior and resources, obeyed choices wouId depend on the likelihood of fur-
without argument. Its decisions would save ther attacks, criticality of various products,
some people and industries and condemn and so forth, but the dilemma would stand.
others, but delay in order to make better deci-
sions could easily condemn more. Evacuation
would have to be ordered in this period, or else An all-out attack would exacerbate the inef-
would-be evacuees would have to wait until ficiencies that Soviet industry has in peace-
radiation had reached safe levels. For cities time. The Government would have to decide
damaged only slightly, evacuation would what it needed to have produced, and whether
prove difficult but not impossible. With many the factories existed to have them produced.
rail yards and some key bridges out, it would The Government would have far more difficul-
be difficult to get trains to smaller cities. ty correlating inputs and outputs and arrang-
Destruction of petroleum refineries, some ing for their transportation. It would have to
petroleum storage capacity (especially that assign people to jobs, and arrange to transport,
located in rail marshaling yards that were at- shelter, and care for workers. Many workers
tacked), and some electric power generators, would be sick, in shelters, killed, traumatized,
would further impede evacuation by train. or debilitated by radiation sickness. However,
Fallout contours would be difficult to predict, the Government would probably be able to
so it would be hard to select the best evacua- control what movement of people did take
tion routes and relocation centers. An attack in place. Even in peacetime, the Government has
winter wouId add other problems. very high control over mobility. People are not
in the habit of going anywhere without permis-
sion, and everyones actions must be justified
Survivors in Soviet cities would face the and accounted for. There is little independent
same severe problems as those in U.S. cities. travel. The internal passport system strength-
Many would be injured, trapped in rubble, ir- ens these controls. I n wartime, the Govern-
radiated with initial nuclear radiation, etc. ment would presumably strengthen its control
Many shelters would be destroyed or dam- of transportation. People would have nowhere
aged. Power would be out, so water pressure to go where they could be sure of shelter from
would be too low for fighting fires. Rubble fallout unless the Government arranged their
would impede rescue. transportation and shelter. This control would
104 The Effects of Nuclear War

help the Government maintain economic orga- mine the damage to agriculture and which in-
nization following attack. dustries would need to remain closed. Harvest-
ing crops uncontaminated by fallout would be
impeded by fuel shortages, but evacuees
The Shelter Period would be plentiful and could harvest crops by
By all reports, the Soviets are better pre- hand. Similarly, evacuees could work in surviv-
pared than Americans to spend extended peri- ing industries in uncontaminated areas.
ods of time in shelters. In their literature well- The key issue that the Government would
conceived protective structures are seen that face would be successful organization. Pro-
should afford good survivability. Life in duction would be far below prewar levels. It
shelters and evacuation areas would in some would take some time before the Government
ways be similar to that described in earlier could take inventory, set priorities, arrange for
cases. Actions taken before fallout deposition inputs of workers, resources, and power, and
would affect casualties. Public health, number transport the outputs. Most needs in this
and quality of shelters, and amount of food period would be met from inventory. The Cov-
and medicine stockpiled are uncertainties. ernment would thus need to establish strict
Civil defense and first aid training would controls over inventory; it could be necessary
mitigate deaths, but to an unpredictable ex- to implement severe rationing of food, as was
tent. People in uncontaminated areas would done in Leningrad in World War 11.
be best off, followed by those in fallout shel-
ters in contaminated areas, those in secure Problems of organization would be especial-
fallout shelters in blast areas, and those in ly critical in light of the intense struggle for
hasty shelters in contaminated areas. resources and the need to use resources as
widely as possible. The competition for petro-
One public health problem would be espe- leum, discussed previously in Case 2, would be
cially acute in this case. Antibiotics, which are minimal compared to the competition here.
invaluable in fighting many diseases, are in The military, agriculture, industry, transporta-
short supply in the U.S.S.R. even in peacetime. tion, and life support systems would all have
Antibiotics have a short sheIf life and cannot urgent claims on resources. Everything would
be frozen. Large doses of radiation destroy be in short supply; there would be hundreds of
most of the bodys antibodies, which fight dis- bottlenecks instead of one. How would the
eases. Antibiotics are typically used to com- Government mediate among these claims?
pensate for the drastic decrease in antibodies There would be far less margin for error than in
in radiation victims, as it takes the body a long peacetime, and a decision to use resources for
time to rebuild its antibodies after large radia- one purpose would almost automatically pre
tion doses. Because of the U.S.S.R. S limited elude other courses of action. Viability would
supply of antibiotics, many people could be be at issue, and deaths would increase because
expected to die from diseases. of delays in achieving it.
In areas contaminated by fallout but un- What sacrifices would the Government de-
damaged by blast, shelter life would be less in- mand? Obviously, each critical sector would
tolerable. Utilities might be working, buildings be called on to make some, and consumer
would be undamaged so would offer better goods would probably be sacrificed complete-
shelter, people would be uninjured, there Iy. Public health would be sacrificed to some
would be time to prepare and provision shel- extent by starting production in contaminated
ters, there would be less inclination to areas early and by giving people contaminated
evacuate, and there would be less pressure to food rather than nothing.
leave shelters prematurely.
The Government would probably be able to
Fallout deposition patterns would become maintain control. Food rationing, control of
clear in this period, and would largely deter- transportation and shelters, and internal
Ch. /VThree Attack Cases 105

passports would help the Government restart If things went well, production would sta-
the economy. Its economic plans would be the bilize at a level that made good use of surviv-
only alternative to chaos, and people would ing resources, and would recover from there.
expect to obey them and their demands even The Government would increase its control
without controls. Many party members would over people and the economy, production of
survive. Contenders for resources wouId strug- consumer goods wouId be delayed, many re-
gle inside the Government, but external sources would flow to the military, public
threats, the specter of chaos, the urgency of health would be lower, but sacrifices would
decisions, and the recognized impossibility of pay off. Soviet engineers and plant managers
getting everything needed would dampen the reputedly are skiIIful at improvising solutions
debate. All sectors would make sacrifices. The to mechanical problems. Such skills, Govern-
military, for example, might be forced to ment organization and control, and brute
forego fuel-intensive training. In agriculture force could overcome bottlenecks, use pro-
and industry, manual laborwhich would be duction to expand capacity, and give people
plentiful would substitute for machinery. austere but adequate food, housing, medical
People would use wood for fuel where possi- care, and other necessities.
ble; many would go cold. Coal-burning loco-
motives woud Iikely be taken from storage. The recovery could go poorly, however. A
Decisions would be taken quickly and set rigid- great many people could require medical care
ly, Productivity would decrease before it in- that could not be provided, and would die. The
harvest could be lost, and more would die.
creased. The standard of living would be far
lower, and some would die in this period and Starving people would find and eat grain to be
planted next year, reducing that crop and caus-
the next as a result. The question is how
ing others to starve. Transportation could col-
lapse, preventing factories from obtaining in-
puts and making it impossible for their prod-
Recuperation ucts to be distributed, forcing them to close.
Hardening might save key machine tools, but
Production and with it, standard of living these tools might be buried under tons of rub-
and the number of people production could ble or be in intensely radioactive areas, pre
support would go down before it went up. In-
eluding their use. The Government might be
dustries would use inventories of supplies for
unable to conduct a detailed resource inven-
production, then would have to close until sup-
tory that could integrate these tools into the
ply could be reestablished. Transportation
economy, or there might be no way of trans-
wouId wind down as petroleum refining was
porting them to a factory that could use them.
cut off, and petroleum supplies became ex-
A war or threat of war, from NATO, China, or
hausted or requisitioned by the military. Peo-
both, might divert surviving industry and mate-
ple would be diverted from production by be- rials into producing for the war effort and
ing sick or injured, caring for the sick or in- away from the economy. Which way the econ-
jured, or being drafted for military service. omy would go is unpredictable, for there are
What production took place would be far less far too many unknowns. But should economic
efficient. Many workers would be debilitated productivity fall precipitously, for whatever
by minor cases of radiation sickness, other ill- reason, the economy couId support fewer peo-
ness, malnutrition, psychological shock, and so ple, and more would die. Indeed a failure to
on. Many would be called on to do tasks for achieve viability could cause as many Soviet
which they lacked the training or the physical deaths as the attack itself.
strength. Factories would be damaged or could
not obtain necessary parts, so industrial proc- I n summary, the effects of a large-scale nu-
esses would have to substitute labor for capital clear attack against Soviet military and urban-
or use shortcuts that would reduce the quality industrial targets wouId remove that nation
of the product or the efficiency of the process. from a position of power and influence for the
106 The Effects of Nuclear War

remainder of this century. Soviet fatalities, due ing industry would be less severely damaged
to asymmetries in weapons yields and popula- than their U.S. counterparts. Nor is there any
tion densities, would be lower than those for evidence that the Soviets face a lower risk of
the United States. However, there is no evi- finding themselves unable to rebuild an indus-
dence that the Soviet economy and its support- trial society at all.
Chapter V




12. Assumed Effects of Radiation Exposures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111
13. Assumed Sources of Cancer Deaths . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111
14, Long-Term Radiation Effects From Nuclear Attacks . . . . . . . 113
Chapter V

The preceding chapter has made it clear that even the immediate effects of a
nuclear attack would have a long-term impact. Structures and resources that would
be destroyed in seconds (by blast) or hours (by fire) might not be rebuilt or replaced
for years, or even decades. People who would die in seconds or in weeks (from fallout
radiation) might not be repiaced in a demographic sense for several generations. Po-
Iitical social, and economic changes arising from the immediate postattack disrup-
tion would probably prove in some significant respects to be irreversible.
There is another category of effects of nuclear war, however, which are long
term in the sense that they would probably not be noticeable for some months, or
even years, after the attack took place. Such effects include long-term somatic and
genetic damage from radiation, possible changes in the physical environment (in-
cluding the possibility of damage to the ozone layer of the upper atmosphere), and
possible changes in the ecological system of which humans area part. These are ef-
fects that conventional weapons cannot produce. They are discussed under three

Effects from low-level ionizing radiation, lead to changes in the Earths climate. At
which are reasonably certain to take the present time it is not known how to
place, whose magnitude would depend on calculate the Iikelihood of its occurrence,
the scope of the attack, and which can to but ongoing research into the chemistry of
some extent be calculated on the basis of the upper atmosphere offers promise of
existing data and theory. greater understanding in the future.
Damage to the ozone layer in the at- Other effects whose magnitude and likeli-
mosphere. Such damage could injure hood are incalculable, but whose possibil-
human and animal health, and possibly ity should not be ignored.


A large body of scientific literature ad- of the effects of past weapons testing, and
dresses itself to the issue of long-term effects there are unresolved scientific controversies
from low levels of ionizing radiation, There has over matters as basic as whether a small dose
been an intensive study over the years of the of radiation does more damage to the human
health of the survivors of Hiroshima and Naga- body (or, from a statistical point of view, is
saki, and of some of those who were subjected more likely to do a given amount of damage to
to radioactive fallout as a result of nuclear a human body) if it is absorbed during a brief
weapons testing. There has been considerable period of time than if it is absorbed over a
research into the question of how large a quan- longer period. There are pertinent questions
tity of radioactive particles of various kinds whose answers are only known to within a fac-
are produced by nuclear weapon explosions. tor of 10.
There is a body of theory regarding the effects
of ionizing radiation on the human body. But Previous chapters have discussed the effects
there are also formidable uncertainties. New of very intensive ionizing radiation: 1,000 reins
information is coming to Iight regarding some will almost certainly be lethal if absorbed

110 The Effects of Nuclear War

within a matter of days; 450 reins will kill 50 vivors. There is a particular area of uncer-
percent of a healthy adult population, and a tainty regarding the effects on humans of
slightly higher percentage of the young, the low levels of neutron radiation.
old, and those without adequate medical care; Local fallout will inflict small doses of
250 reins will cause acute radiation sickness, radiation on people who are on the fringe
from which recovery is probable; and even of fallout zones, or on people who are
lower doses may lower the bodys resistance to in fallout shelters in zones of heavier fall-
infectious diseases of various kinds. It is out. It is important to realize that even the
generally assumed that because of the rate at best fallout shelters attenuate fallout
which fallout radiation decays, doses of this rather than block it completely, and the
magnitude are likely to be received during the whole theory of fallout shelters is to see to
first so days after an attack if they are received it that people who would, if unsheltered,
at all. The preceding chapter, and appendix D, receive a lethal dose would instead re-
include calculations on the numbers of people ceive a sublethal dose. However, this sub-
who might die from radiation effects during lethal dose will produce harmful long-
the first 30 days after various kinds of nuclear term effects for some percentage of those
attack. exposed.
After a period of time, local fallout radia-
However, doses of ionizing radiation that tion levels decay to the point where the
are too small or too slowly accumulated to area would be considered safe, and sur-
produce prompt death or radiation sickness vivors in fallout shelters would emerge.
nevertheless have harmful effects in the long Nevertheless, low levels of radiation
run. These effects can only be discussed statis- would persist for some time indeed, low
tically, for it appears that if a large population levels of radiation have persisted for years
is exposed to a given (small) dose of radiation, at some sites of nuclear weapons tests.
some will suffer harmful effects while others The question of safety here is a relative
will not. The larger the dose, the greater the one. By the standards of peacetime, many
percentage of the population that is harmed, such areas would be considered unsafe,
and the greater the risk to any one individual. because living in them would expose a
There are a number of ways in which a nu- population to a significant risk of long-
clear attack would lead to radiation exposures term hazards cancer, genetic damage,
which, although too low to cause death within etc. However, in the aftermath of a nucle
ar attack, there may be few habitable
the first 30 days, nevertheless pose an appreci-
able long-term hazard: areas that do not have a measurable
(though low) level of additional radiation,
Prompt radiation from the nuclear explo- and the survivors wouId simply have to ac-
sions could inflict sublethal doses on cept the hazards.
some survivors, especially if the weapons Some fallout is deposited in the tropo-
are small ones. Most of the radiation ab- sphere, and then is brought down to Earth
sorbed by survivors of the Hiroshima and (largely by rain) over a period of weeks.
Nagasaki attack was direct radiation. A Such fallout reaches areas quite far from
substantial number of U.S. weapons have the blast. While the doses inflicted would
yields in the tens of kilotons, and might in- be relatively small, they would add to the
flict radiation on people far enough away risk.
from the explosion to survive the blast ef- Some fallout is deposited in the strato-
fects. Few Soviet weapons are of such low sphere. It returns to Earth over a period of
yields and high-yield weapons are ex- years (through the effects of gravity), and
pected to kill those within radiation range consequently only very long-lived radio-
by blast. A terrorist weapon would almost active isotopes pose a significant hazard.
certainly inflict direct radiation on sur- If the attacks are confined to the territory
Ch. VOther Long-Term Effects 711

of the United States and the Soviet Union

(and, for that matter, to Europe and China
as well), then stratospheric fallout will be
confined mostly to the Northern Hemi-
sphere, and the region between 300 and
600 north latitude will receive the bulk of
In quantifying the radiation dose received
by individuals, radiation from external and in-
ternal (ingested) sources must be distinguished.
External radiation passes through the skin. ln-
gested radioactivity derives its effects from
particular radioactive isotopes becoming con-
centrated in specific organs. For example,
radioactive iodine (l-1 31), which may enter the
body through breathing, eating, and drinking,
is concentrated in the thyroid, and radioactive
strontium (Sr 89 and Sr 90) is concentrated in
An OTA contractor performed a series of
calculations to estimate the magnitude of the
long-term health hazards that would be cre-
ated by the long-term, low-level radiation that
each of the OTA cases might produce. The
basic method was to calculate the total
amount of radiation that all the survivors of
each hypothetical nuclear attack might absorb
during the 40 years following the attack, and
then calculate the numbers of adverse health
effects that this much radiation could be ex-
pected to produce. (Tables 12 and 13 present Does radiation that is part of a low ex-
the risk factors used for these calculations.) posure or a very slow exposure do as
The difficulties in such a procedure are for- much damage per rem absorbed as radia-
midable, and precise results are manifestly im- tion received as part of a high and rapid
possible to obtain. exposure? One theory holds that, given
The major uncertainties, which result in a time, the body can repair the damage
done by radiation, and that hence the
wide range of answers, are the following:
same dose spread over years does less
All of the uncertainties discussed in pre- damage than it would if received within a
vious chapters about the size and nature few days. Another theory is that radiation
of the attack, and the distribution of the damages the body in ways that are essen-
population. tially irreparable. The contractor cal-
How much of the population benefits culated the effects both ways (DEF = 1
from what degree of fallout sheltering? It and DEF = 0.2), which accounts for some
has been noted that there is no necessary of the range in the answers.
relation between civil defense plans and IS there a threshold dose below which
actual shelter received. radiation exposure does no harm at all? If
How many people die in the immediate there is, then the methodology used pro-
aftermath of the attack? duces somewhat exaggerated results,
112 The Effects of Nuclear War

since it attributes damage to radiation ab- caused by a large attack on a full range of
sorbed by people whose total dose is be- targets.
low the threshold. A large nuclear war could cause deaths in
the low millions outside the combatant
How to deal with the distribution of ages
countries, although this would represent
of the population at the time of the at-
only a modest increase in the peacetime
tack, since susceptibility to cancer, etc., cancer death rate.
from causes other than radiation varies These results might not apply if an at-
with age. tacker set out deliberately to create very
How great are the genetic effects from a high radiation levels.
given level of radiation? Extensive experi- Just as this study was going to press, the
mental results permit an approximate cal- results of the new report of the Committee on
culation of the number of mutations that the Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiations
would be produced, although one source (BEIR II) of the National Academy of Sci-
notes that the doubling dose for genetic ences (NAS) became available. (The full report,
disorders might be anywhere from 20 to entitled The Effects on Populations of Expo-
200 reins. However, it is far more difficult sure to Low Levels of Ionizing Radiations, will
to predict exactly how these mutations be published by NAS during the second half of
would manifest themselves in future gen- 1979. ) In general, the new report suggests a
erations. slightly narrower range of uncertainty than the
OTA calculations, but generally confirms their
The results of these calculations are summa- assumptions. OTA used assumptions of cancer
rized in table 14. [The full report of the con- deaths per million person-reins which appear
tractor is available separately. ) The ranges re- to be about 10 percent higher at the high end
sult from the uncertainties noted above, and it of the range and about 40 percent lower at the
is expected that the actual results if a war low end of the range than the findings of the
took place would be some distance from either new BEIR report. OTA calculated genetic ef-
extreme. It is observed that: fects on the basis of a doubling dose of 20 to
200 reins, compared with a range of 50 to 250
Cancer deaths in the m i I I ions couId be ex- reins suggested by the new BE I R report, which
pected during the 40 years following a may mean that the OTA estimates are too high
large nuclear attack, even if that attack at the high end of the range. The new BEIR
avoided targets in population centers. report also notes that the incidence of radi-
These millions of deaths would, however, ation-induced cancer would be higher for
be far less than the immediate deaths women than for men.


Large nuclear explosions would, among changes in the Earths climate, and would
other things, inject a variety of particles into allow more ultraviolet radiation from the Sun
the upper atmosphere. In recent years, consid- through the atmosphere to the surface of the
erable attention has focused on the possibility Earth, where it could produce dangerous burns
that the injection of a substantial quantity of and a variety of potentially dangerous ecologi-
nitrogen oxide (NOX) into the stratosphere by a cal effects.
large number of high-yield nuclear weapons
might cause a depletion or thinning of the As of 1975, a report by the National Acad-
ozone layer. Such a depletion might produce emy of Sciences (discussed more fully below)
Ch. VOther Long-Term Effects 113

Table 14.Long-Term Radiation Effects From Nuclear Attacksa

fallout sheltering treated parametrically

Somatic effects PF* = 5 PF* = 10 PF* =40
deaths 2,000.000-5.500,000 1,000,000-3,000>000 300,000-1 ,000! 000
cancers about 2,000,000 about 1,000,000 about 300,000
nodules about 2,500,000 about 1,500,000 about 500,000
Genetic effects
AbortIons due to chromosomal
damage 250,000-2,500,000 150,000-1,500,000 50,000-500,000
Other genetic
effects 900,000-9,000,000 500,000-5,000,000 150,000-1,500,000
Estimated effects outside he United States from this attack
Somatic effects
Cancer deaths 8,000-80,000
Thyroid cancers about 30,000
Thyroid nodules about 50,000
Genetic effects
AbortIons due to chromosomal damage 4,000- 40,000
Other genetic ffects 13,000-130,000
of air bursts and surface bursts was assumed, and the ranges include variations
fallout protection
Somatic effects
Cancer deaths 1,200,000-9,300,000
Thyroid cancers about 5,500,000
Thyroid nodules 7,700,000-8,400,000
Genetic effects
Abortins due to chromosomal damage 320,000-8,000,000
Other genetic effects 1,000,000-12,500,000
774 The Effects of Nuc/ear War

called attention to this danger as a serious one, stantially more than 1 Mt) in large num-
estimating that a 30- to 70-percent reduction in bers (1 ,000 or more), or possibly from high-
the ozone column was a possibility. altitude explosions. Otherwise, ozone de-
pletion is not believed to be likely. How-
Since that time, however, there have been
ever, further changes in the theory of what
two changes which bear on the question of the
would happen are Iikely in the future.
degree of risk of ozone depletion:
2 The development of MIRVs has reduced
1. Further research into the chemistry of the the number-of very high-yield warheads in
upper atmosphere has modified the mod- the arsenals of the superpowers, as they
el calculations used in 1975. The results of are replaced by multiple weapons of
past nuclear tests do not, however, pro- lower yield.
vide data adequate for the complete vali-
dation of any chemistry model. There are These changes cast doubt on the likelihood
also indications that the chemistry con- of serious ozone depletion as a consequence
cerned is much more complex than was of nuclear war. However, they by no means
formerly believed. The state of knowledge demonstrate that ozone depletion is impossi-
in early 1979 is roughly this: injections of ble, and even slight depletion could cause an
NO. could deplete the ozone layer if they increase in the incidence of skin cancer.
occur at very high altitudes (80,000 ft [24
km] and upwards), which would result This is an area where research continues,
from very high-yield explosions (i.e., sub- and further changes should not be surprising.


In 1975, the National Academy of Sciences

published a report, Long-Term Worldwide Ef-
fects of Mu/tip/e Nuclear-Weapons Detona-
tions, which addressed the question of whether
a large-scale nuclear war would be Iikely to
produce significant, irreversible effects on the
world environment.
This document may be summarized as fol-
It is possible that a large nuclear war
would produce irreversible adverse ef-
fects on the environment and the ecologi-
cal system.
In particular, it would not require very
large changes to greatly diminish the pro-
duction of food. The report notes that it
would be difficult to adapt to such
changes in view of the likelihood that
much of the worlds expertise in agricul-
tural technology might perish in the war.
The physical and biological processes in-
volved are not understood well enough to
say just how such irreversible damage, if it
occurred, would take place.
-..-. .-

. Therefore, it is not possible to estimate

the probability or the probable magnitude
of such damage.

With the exception of the discussion of

possible damage to the ozone layer, where
there has been some advance in knowledge
since 1975, these conclusions still hold in 1979.

Moreover, there are at least two other re-

spects in which there are hazards whose mag-
nitude cannot be calculated. It is certain that
the radiation derived from a nuclear war
would cause mutations in surviving plants and
animals; it is possible that some of these muta-


The calculations for long-term radiation much greater than what is considered tol-
hazards, with all their uncertainties, permit an erable today.
order-of-magnitude conclusion: The number of deaths would be rather
small compared to the number of deaths
There would be a substantial number of resulting from the immediate effects of
deaths and illness due to radiation among the attack millions compared to tens or
those who were lucky enough to escape a hundreds of millions.
lethal dose during the first weeks after the I n contrast, the incalculable effects of dam-
attack. age to the Earths ecological system might be
on the same order of magnitude as the immedi-
The number of deaths would be very large ate effects, but it is not known how to calcu-
by peacetime standards, and the hazards late or even estimate their likelihood.


W A S H I N G T O N , D.C. 20510

September 8, 1978

The Honorable Edward M. Kennedy

Chairman, Technology Assessment Board
Office of Technology Assessment
United States Congress
Washington, D. C. 20510

Dear Mr. Chairman:

Several years ago, a study conducted under the auspices

of the Office of Technology Assessment at the requestof t
Committee on Foreign Relations provided guidance which led
to substantially improved analyses by the Department of
Defense of the effects of limited nuclear war.

The resulting study was released by the Committee and

has become an invaluable aid in the study of nuclear con-
flict. However, the OTA panel, under the chairmanship of
Dr. Jerome M. Wiesner, President of the Massachusetts Insti-
tute of Technology, which was convened to oversee the study,
went on to point out the need for a more thorough and com-
prehensive study of the effects of nuclear warfare and
recommended that such a study be undertaken.

On behalf of the Committee on Foreign Relations, we are

writing to request that the Office of Technology Assessment
organize and conduct such a study on the effects of nuclear
warfare, which would put what have been abstract measures of
strategic power into more comprehensible terms. The study
should concentrate on the impact which various levels of
attack would have on the populations and economies of the
United States and the Soviet Union. In the case of larger
levels of attack, the study should address impact upon other
nations. The earlier Department of Defense analyses concen-
trated upon short-term effects. In this more comprehensive
study, intermediate and long-term, direct and indirect effects
should be addressed as well. In the o r i g i n a l s t u d y , t h e p a n e l
cited in its appendix a list of effects which should be de-
tailed in a comprehensive and systematic way. The list is
120 The Effects of Nuclear War


We believe that this study would be valuable to the

Commit tee, and to the Congress and the general public.
It would become a basic reference work in this area of
inquiry. We hope that the Office of Technology Assess-
ment will be able to embark upon this project promptly,
so that a finished product can be provided the Commit-
tee at the outset of the new Congress to assist the
Committee in its oversight of strategic arms limitation
issues. The earlier effort was conducted with the full
support of the executive branch. We stand ready again
to seek the assistance of appropriate government agencies
in carrying out the necessary supporting work.


Ranking Member Chairman

Appendix ALetter of Request 121

1975 OTA Panels List of Damage Effects Requiring Examination

1. Damage effects should be detailed in a comprehensive and systematic

way. At a minimum, each case examined should include the following
a . Fatalities and injuries resulting from:
-Direct and indirect blast effects;
-Indirect effects resulting from fires, disruption of trans-
portation, communications, medical facilities, etc.;
-Acute radiation deaths from fallout;
-Cancers, genetic defects, life shortening and other direct
effects of radiation exposure resulting from: external exposure~
inhalation of radioactive particles, ingestion of material from
the food chain or the water supplies;
-Infections and diseases aggravated by the loss of resistance
resulting from exposure to radiation.
Analysis of exposure should include both people exposed ini-
tially and people who have been sent to the area to assist in
recovery. There should also be a discussion of world-wide effects
with particular attention paid to Canada because of that nations
proximity to many U.S. targets which may be of strategic interest.
b. The average integrated REM per survivor from all sources
(prompt and fallout) should be indicated along with the geographic
distribution of these dosages and a discussion of the disabilities
resulting from each exposure level.

co A detailed analysis should be made of the impact of the attacks

on the local areas most heavily affected. The discussion should in-
clude a discussion of the feasibility of restoring the area to a
viable economy, the land lost to agriculture, manufacturing assets
lost, skilled manpower lost, and the impact on local ecologies
(permanent altering of watersheds, pollution of streams and rivers
with radioactivity, bursting of dams, etc.) . The effect of these
local losses and problems on the national economy and environment
should also be indicated.
d. An attempt should be made to indicate the magnitude of the
effort which would be required to clean up the contaminated area
and restore it to its pre-attack condition. It should be possible
to draw on the experience which we have had in attempting to
restore the Bikini and Eniwetok atolls.
2. An attempt should be made to determine the amount of radioactive
material which would be released by U.S. sites damaged by the
effects of the enemy attack. Such material might be found in power
or research reactors, nuclear material reprocessing facilities,
waste disposal areas for radioactive materials, military installa-
tions where some nuclear weapons are not in hardened storage areas,
weapons carried by aircraft which are on the bases attacked, and
possibly on the ICBMs which may be destroyed in their silos. The
added fallout from these sources should be included in the assess-
ment of overall radiation exposure.

The strategic forces assumed to be available tant factor in an analysis of relative U.S. and
for an early to mid-1980s conflict between the Soviet military effectiveness, where the out-
United States and the Soviet Union are derived comes of a study would be very sensitive to the
from open-source estimates of weapons char- exact technical data used. In a study of the im-
acteristics and force levels. Generally, the pacts of nuclear war on civilian population,
forces are assumed to be within SALT I I estab- however, a slight difference in the estimated
lished limits and assume the completion of yield or accuracy of a Soviet weapon will have
ongoing intercontinental ballistic missile no corresponding effect on the computation of
(ICBM) modernization programs of both super- the consequences of a given attack, relative to
powers. For the United States this means that the degree of uncertainty that already exists in
yield and accuracy improvements for the the prediction of those consequences.
MM I I I force are carried out. On the Soviet
U.S. estimates, on the other hand, are not
side, it means completing the deployment of
subject to such great uncertainties. The Con-
their fourth-generation ICBMS, the SS-17,
gressional Budget Office summary of U.S.
SS-18, and SS-19.
forces is shown in table B-2.
A recent study conducted by the Congres-
It is useful to bear in mind that Soviet ICBM
sional Budget Office, entitled, Counterforce
warheads are much higher in yield than their
Issues for the U.S. Strategic Nuclear Forces,
U.S. counterparts. While this has only a mar-
provided table B-1, which shows Soviet forces
ginal impact on relative capabilities to destroy
and their capabilities for the early to mid-
civil ian targets on purpose, it means that
Soviet attacks on U.S. targets will produce
Western estimates differ as to the exact at- much more collateral damage (i.e. population
tributes and capabilities of Soviet strategic casualties from attacks on economic targets,
systems, As a result some of the assumptions or economic and population damage from at-
used in the studies drawn on for this report are tacks on military targets) than will U.S. attacks
mutually inconsistent. This wouId be an impor- on Soviet targets.

Table B-1 .Estimated Soviet Strategic Nuclear Forces, 1985

Warheads per Equivalent

600 1 600 1.0 600 600

300 3 900 0.2 180 306

Total SLBMs . 900 1,500 780 906

Bear. ., ., ., 100 1 100 20 2,000 740
Bison ... 200 116
(Backfire). ., ., (250) (2) . (500) (0.2) (loo) (170)
Total bombers ., . 140 140 2,200 856
(390) (640) (2,300) (1,026)
Grand total 2,438 8,294 10,111 8,622
(2,688) (8,794) (10,211) (8,792)

Appendix BStrategic Forces Assumed 123

Table B-2.Estimated U.S. Strategic Nuclear Forces, 1985

(Mid-1980s force)
Warheads per Equivalent
Launcher Number launcher Total warheads Yield in megatons Total megatons megatons
1 450 1,0 450,0 450
3 1,650 0.17 280.5 512
3) (1 ,650) (0.35) (572.5) (825)
1 54 9.0 486,0 232
Total ICBMs. 1,054 2,154 1,216.5 1,194
(1 ,508,5) 1 ,507)
Poseidon ., 336 o 3,360 0.04 134 403
Poseidon C-4 160 8 1,280 0.10 128 282
Trident I ., 240 8 1,920 0.10 192 422
Total SLBMs ., 736 454 1,107
B-52 G/H ., 165
198 337
660 660
B-52CM ., 165 660 1,122
FB-111, ., ., 60
24 41
120 120
Total bombers 390 1,662 2,280

/n an effort to provide a more concrete understanding of the situation

which survivors of a nuclear war would face, OTA commissioned the following
work of fiction. It presents one among many possibilities, and in particular it
does not consider the situation if martial law were imposed or if the social fabric
disintegrated into anarchy. It does provide detail which adds a dimension to the
more abstract ana/ysis presented in the body of the report.

At first, it seemed Iike a miracle. No fireball on Route 29. The governing bodies of Char-
had seared the city, no blast wave had crum- lottesville and surrounding Albemarle County
bled buildings and buried the inhabitants, no were rumored to be concerned about the drain
dark mushroom cloud had spread over the sky. on the area resources, without really having
Much of the country had been devastated by any way of turning back newcomers. If this
massive nuclear attack, but the small, gracious keeps up, remarked a member of the Al be-
city of Charlottesville, Va., had escaped marle Board of Supervisors, were going to be
unharmed. overrun without any war.

* * * A few of the students at the University of

Virginia left Charlottesville to join their
families. But the majority of the students
The nuclear attack on the Nation did not
stayed, believing that they could go home easi-
come as a complete surprise. For some weeks,
ly if it were necessary.
there had been a mounting anxiety as the
media reported deteriorating relations be- Refugees came from Washington, 130 miles
tween the superpowers. The threat of possible to the north, and they came from Richmond,
nuclear war hung heavy in the worlds con- 70 miles to the east. A few of the hardier types
sciousness. As evidence reached the U.S. Presi- continued on into the mountains and caverns
dents desk that a sizable number of Amer- near Skyline Drive; the majority sought the
icans were deserting the major cities for what reassurances of civilization that the small city
they perceived to be safety in the rural areas, could provide.
he considered ordering a general evacuation.
But, with the concurrence of his advisors, he The population of Charlottesville normally
decided that an evacuation call from the stood a little above 40,000, while Albemarle
Federal Government would be premature, and County which surrounds the city like a donut
possibly provocative. There was no hard boasted an additional 40,000 to 50,000. With
evidence that the Soviets were evacuating and the arrival of the city evacuees, the combined
there was a good chance that the crisis would population was well over 120,000.
In the week before the nuclear attack, much
Spontaneous evacuation, without official of the population familiarized itself with the
sanction or direction, grew and spread. A week location of fallout shelters. Little hoarding
before the attack, Charlottesville had no free took place as retailers limited sales of food
hotel or motel rooms. A few evacuees found and other necessities. Transistor radios accom-
lodgings with private families, at great ex- panied both adults and children when they
pense, but most were forced to camp by their were away from home. However, most of the
cars in their traiIers next to the fast-food chains residents of CharlottesviIIe continued to Iive as

Appendix CCharlottesville: A Fictional Account by Nan Randall 125

they always had, although they were particu- its selected fate of death or salvation alone.
larly alert for sirens or bulletin broadcasts on (Some time later it was learned that more than
the radio. Many children stayed out of school. 4,000 megatons (Mt) had destroyed military
* * * and industrial targets, killing close to 100
million people in the United States. The U.S.
At the sound of the sirens and the emergen- counterattack on the Soviet Union had had a
cy radio alerts, most of Charlottesville and Al- similar, devastating effect. Destruction ranged
bemarle County hurried to shelter. Fortunate from the large industrial centers on the coasts
Iy, Charlottesville had a surplus of shelter and Great Lakes to small farming communities
space for its own population, though the refu- that had the misfortune to be close to the great
gees easily took up the slack. Many headed for missile silos and military bases. )
the University grounds and the basements of
the old neoclassical buildings designed by Areas of the country such as the northeast
Thomas Jefferson; others headed downtown corridor were reduced to a swath of burning
for the office building parking garages. Carry- rubble from north of Boston to south of Nor-
ing a few personal effects, blankets, cans and folk. Still, there were some sections of the Na-
bottles of food, and transistor radios, they con- tion that were spared the direct effects of blast
verged in a quiet if unordered mass, For most and fire. Inland in Virginia, only the town of
people, the obvious emotional crises grief at Radford, west of Roanoke, received a direct
leaving behind a pet, anxiety at being unable hit. The farming and orchard land of the rural
to locate a family member or relativewere counties were not targets.
suppressed by the overwhelming fear of the Charlottesville, the small but elegant center
impending attack. of learning, culture, and trade in central Vir-
Some residents chose not to join the group ginia, was not hit either. This monument to the
shelters. Many suburbanites had ample, sturdy mind and manner of Jefferson retained its
basements and food stocks. They preferred not status as a kind of genteel sanctuary, momen-
to crowd themselves. In the event, those who tarily immune to the disaster that had leveled
had taken the precaution of piling dirt against the cities of the Nation.
the windows and doors of their basements * * *
found that they provided adequate shelter.
Among the rural poor, there was a reluctance An hour after nothing fell on Charlottesville,
to desert the small farms that represented the rescue squads and police were dispatched to
sum of their Iifes work. They wondered wheth- scour the countryside for stragglers to get
er, if they left, they would return to find their them to shelters. Because, even if the popula-
means of livelihood gone. Further, many lived tion was safe from the direct effects of the
far from an adequate public shelter. So they nuclear warheads, another danger was immi-
stayed. nent. Fallout, the deadly cloud of radioactive
particles sucked up by the nuclear fireballs,
* * * could easily blanket the town of Charlottes-
Most did not see the attacks on Richmond ville in a matter of hours. And no one could
and on Washington as they huddled in their predict how much, and where it would go. Fall-
shelters. But the sky to the east and north of out could poison many of those idyllic rural
Charlottesville glowed brilliant in the noonday towns and villages that seemed light-years
sun. At first no one knew how extensive the away from the problems of international
damage was. power and politics. While a few places, such as
Roseberg, Ore., would receive no fallout at all,
Communication nationwide was interrupted the rest of the Nation would have to constantly
as the Earths atmosphere shivered with the monitor to know the level of radiation and
assault of the explosions. Each town, city, where it was located. Fortunately for Char-
village, or farm was an island, forced to suffer lottesville, the University and the hospitals had
126 The Effects of Nuclear War

sophisticated radiological monitoring equip- though it kept running because of its gravity
ment, and the training to use it. Many other system, was contaminated with lodine 131. Po-
towns were not so lucky. tassium iodide pills, which were available in
some shelters, provided protection; elsewhere
Two and one-half hours after the warnings
people drank bottled water, or as little water
had sounded, the nuclear engineering staff
as possible.
from the University picked up the first fallout.
Starting at a moderate level of about 40 reins Not all of the shelters had enough food and
an hour a cumulative dose of 450 reins re- other necessities. Most shelters had no toilets.
ceived in a l-week period would be fatal to The use of trash cans for human waste was an
one-half of those exposed the intensity rose imperfect system, and several days into the
to 50 reins before starting the decline to a level shelter period, the atmosphere was often op-
of about four-tenths of a rem an hour after 2 pressive. As many suffered from diarrhea the
weeks. (The total dose in the first 4 days was result either of anxiety, flu, or radiation sick-
2,000 reins, which killed those who refused to ness the lack of toilet facilities was especial-
believe shelter was necessary, and increased ly cliff i cult.
the risk of eventually dying of cancer for those
who were properly sheltered. ) For the immedi- Shelter life was bearable in the beginning.
ate period, it was essential to stay as protected Communications by CB radio allowed some
as possible. shelters to communicate with one another, to
locate missing family members and friends. A
For several days, Charlottesville remained genuine altruism or community spirit of coop-
immobile, suspended in time. It was unclear eration was present in almost all the shelters
just what had happened or would happen. The though some of them were fairly primitive.
President had been able to deliver a message Even those refugees who were crowded into
of encouragement, which was carried by those halls and basements with the local residents
emergency radio stations that could broad- were welcomed. Parents watched out for one
cast. As the atmosphere had cleared, radio sta- anothers children or shared scarce baby food.
tion WCHV was able to transmit sporadically Most people willingly accepted direction from
on its backup transmitter and emergency gen- whomever took charge. Among the majority of
erator in the basement. However, the message the shelter residents, the out-of-town refugees
from the President posed more questions than being an exception, there was a sense of relief,
it answered the damage assessment was in-
a sense that they had been among the lucky
complete. Nevertheless, he said that there was ones of this world. They had survived.
a tentative cease-fire.
Within a few days, the emergency radio was
In the first days of sheltering, only those
able to broadcast quite regularly. (As the
with some particular expertise had much to do.
ionosphere does not clear all at once, occa-
Nuclear engineers and technicians from the
sional interruptions were expected. ) The sta-
University were able to monitor radiation in
tion had had no protection from the electro-
the shelters they occupied, and CB radios
magnetic pulse that can travel down the anten-
broadcast results to other shelters. The doctors
na and shatter the inner workings of electronic
were busy attempting to treat physical and
equipment during a nuclear explosion. How-
psychological ailments the symptoms of
ever, by detaching the back-up transmitter at
radiation sickness, flu, and acute anxiety being
the sound of the warning, the station engineer
unnervingly similar while the police and gov-
had protected equipment. Intermittent com-
ernment officials attempted to keep order. The
munications from Emergency Operations Cen-
rest waited.
ters got through to Charlottesville officials,
For the time being, the food stocks brought though the main communications center at
to the shelter were adequate if not appetizing. Olney, Md., was silent. Telephone switching fa-
The only problem was the water supply which, cilities were almost entirely out, although the
Appendix CCharlottesville: A Fictional Account by Nan Randall 127

small, independent phone company could ex- cases in intensive care were released to
pect to be operational fairly quickly. The com- natures devices while any elective medical
plex, coast-to-coast trunk lines of Ma Bell procedures were eliminated, Still, hospitals
might take a year or more to reconnect. were able to cope, even with the increasing
number of common ailments caused by the
Lifeline of the sheltered community was the
shelter crowding.
CB radio. Rural Virginians had been CB fans
long before it became a national craze, and Suddenly, this changed. Fallout levels were
they put their equipment to imaginative use. too high for anyone to be out in the open for
Prodded by anxious refugees, as well as by any length of time, but the people came any-
local residents who had relatives and friends in way. The carefully laid plans of the University
other parts of the world, CBers tried to set up a of Virginia Emergency Room, devised for the
relay system on the lines of an electronic pony possibility of peacetime accidents, were hur-
express. Though less than perfect, the CB relay riedly modified. No longer was the careful
was able to bring Iimited news from outside, showering and decontaminating of victims
most of that news being acutely distressing. possible with the single shower and uncertain
From the limited reports, it was clear that there water pressure. Instead, patients were stripped
was Iittle left in the coastal cities; those who of their clothes and issued hospital gowns.
had abandoned family or friends to come to With no time for studied decision, doctors seg-
Charlottesville understood that probably they regated the very sick from the moderately
wouId never see them again. sick the latter to be treated, the former given
medication and allowed to die.
The first surge of grief swept over the refu-
gees and those Charlottesville residents who Nevertheless, the day came when the hospi-
were affected. In time, the sorrow of loss tals were full. The University Hospital, Martha
would affect almost everyone. Although they Jefferson Hospital, the Blue Ridge Sanatorium,
had survived themselves, still they had lost. and the others were forced to lock their doors
* * * to protect those patients they had already ac-
Three days after the attacks, the next large
influx of refugees poured into Charlottesville, After being turned away, the sick had no
many of them suffering with the early symp- specific destination. Many still clustered
toms of radiation sickness. They had been around the middle of town near the two major
caught poorly sheltered or too close to the hospitals, taking up residence in the houses
nuclear targets themselves. A few showed the abandoned by local residents several days
effects of blast and fire, bringing home to before. With minimal protection from fallout
Charlottesville the tangible evidence of the and no medical treatment for other trauma,
wars destruction. Some refugees had driven, many died, their bodies left unburied for sever-
while others had hitchhiked or even walked to al weeks.
reach what they hoped was safety and medical
The combined populations of Charlottes-
help. On the way, many were forced to aban-
ville and Albemarle County rose to 150,000 in
don those who were too weak to continue.
the 7 days after the nuclear attack. Slowly,
The hospitals were completely over- hostility and resentment wedged a gap be-
whelmed. Up to now, the hospitals had man- tween residents and refugees who attempted
aged to treat the ill with some modicum of to join the group shelters, The refugees, still in
order. The hospitals themselves were fallout a daze from their experience, believed that
shelters of a kind; patients beds had been they had priority rights after all they had suf-
moved to interior corridors for fallout protec- fered. The local residents viewed the outsiders
tion; emergency surgery was feasible with the as a threat to their own survival, particuIarly as
emergency generators, hospital staff slept in the extent of the war damage was becoming
the most protected areas. Some borderline evident.
128 The Effects of Nuclear War

In fact, the supply of food was not a prob- For the first week or so after the nuclear at-
lem in the short run. Like most other towns and tacks, authorities had few options. Simple sur-
cities, Charlottesville and Albemarle had some vival was the priority, the elements of which in-
3 weeks worth of food on hand, on home cluded food and water distribution, fallout
shelves, in supermarkets and wholesale out- protection, and retention of some civil order.
lets. The Morton Frozen Food plant could be Government was ad hoc, with the leadership of
expected to supply a rich diet of convenience the city and county naturally cooperating,
foods for a short time, even after the refriger- along with the different police forces. As the
ation was off. The problem was, after the local population left the shelters, however, officials
supplies were exhausted, where could they get felt that some more formalized system was de-
more? sirable. After several long meetings in the
basement of the courthouse where the govern-
Nerves, already frayed by the stresses of the ment officials had stayed to avoid fallout an
past days, threatened to snap. Older people emergency government, led by the city man-
were irritated by the noise and commotion of ager of Charlottesville, was agreed on. The
children; children resented the lack of free combined city council and the Albemarle
dom. The friction between differing groups County Board of Supervisors also elected the
became increasingly evident, and vocal. An ex- chairman of the board of supervisors as depu-
periment in communal living was clearly not to ty, and the sheriff of the county as chief of
the taste of many, and the discomforts, both public safety to oversee the combined police
physical and psychological, had the effect of forces and provide liaison with those military
pushing local residents out of the shelters. units which were still in the area.
(There was some effort to stop them as the
radiation levels still posed some hazards; they The powers given to the city manager were
were urged at least to stay inside most of the sweeping in scope, certainly far beyond any
time.) Left in the shelters, now, were mostly powers he had held before, and ran for the
those out-of-town refugees who had no homes duration of the emergency. While some con-
to go to. sidered the new form of local government
close to martial law, great care was exercised
Not all the residents of Charlottesville and to be sure that the offensive term was not
Albemarle found their homes intact. In some used. In effect, however, Charlottesville and
cases they returned to find the house looted or Albemarle were under a highly centralized,
occupied by refugees who were unwilling to almost totalitarian rule.
give up squatters rights. Sometimes claims
were backed with guns; in a few cases, squatter Whatever it might be called, under the new
and owner worked out a modus vivendi of system, the city manager was able to take over
sharing the property. all resources and their allocation. Following to
some extent the paper plan that the area had
Some animals had survived, in varying states developed, the new government attempted to
of health. Unprotected farm animals were set out priorities. It was greatly aided by the ex-
dead, while those which had been confined to perts from the University, who volunteered
fairly solid barns with uncontaminated feed time and expertise to analyzing the needs of
had a fair chance of surviving. Many of these the area. (In this respect, Charlottesville was
farm animals, however, were missing, ap- particularly fortunate in having an extensive
parently eaten by hungry refugees and resi- pool of talent on which to draw.)
dents. Some pets had remained indoors in
good de facto shelters so that, if they had However, if Charlottesville was lucky to
found water, they needed only to be fed to have reasonably functioning government and
regain health. Worried about the amount of a number of experienced planners and man-
food pets could consume, many families sim- agers, and to have suffered comparatively
ply put them out to fend for themselves. modest disruption from refugees and fallout,
Appendix CCharlottesville: A Fictional Account by Nan Randall 129

the city and county authorities were becoming No one was exactly certain how much fuel
painfully aware that they were not set up to go there was in the area. Both jurisdictions had
it alone without any outside help. Even were once surveyed, for emergency planning pur-
the weather suitable for planting, Charlottes- poses, the fuel storage capacity, and they
ville was no longer an agricultural center. hoped they could count on having about half
There wasnt enough energy to process any of that on hand. Armed guards were assigned
food that might be grown. Where would peo- to those larger facilities that had not already
ple get clothes and building materials and been raided by the desperate. All private use
medicines and spare parts for the cars and of cars or tractors was outlawed, and the
buses? The very complexity of American soci- government threatened to confiscate any mov-
ety its technological marvels and high stand- ing vehicles.
ard of Iiving could well prove to be a barrier
to the reconstruction of any one part. Electricity was restored, partially, some two
weeks after the attack. Workers from the smalI
* * * Bremo Bluff generating plant, about 15 miles
away from Charlottesville, succeeded in start-
ing the p I ant with the coaI reserves that were
During the third week after the attacks, the
on hand. From then on, limited electricity use
new rationing system come into force. indi- was permitted for a few hours hours a day. This
vidual identification cards were issued to was particularly pleasant for those families
every man, woman and child. Food was distrib-
whose water came from electrically powered
uted at centralized points. Those without I.D.
well pumps. Well water was issued to children
cards were unable to get their ration of flour,
for drinking, as it had escaped the Iodine 131
powdered milk, and lardand the processing
contamination which was still elevated in the
of cards could take 3 or more days. Some des-
perate refugees resorted to stealing I.D. cards
in order to get food, while an enterprising The radioactivity level continued to drop
printer started turning out forgeries within 2 (after two weeks it was 0.4 rem per hour) and it
days after the government had first issued was safe to go outdoors. However, the re
cards. Rumors of hoarding and black mar- suiting doses, though too low to cause immedi-
keteering abounded. Some of the missing ate illness or deaths, posed a long-term health
supermarket food turned up in black market hazard. The authorities, while recognizing that
centers, accompanied by exorbitant prices. everybody would receive many times the pre-
war safe dose, tried to reduce the hazards by
Fuel supplies were dropping more rapidly urging people to stay inside as much as possi-
than the government had hoped. Most families ble when not picking up food rations at the
were heating their homes with wood, either in distribution centers. Life for the residents of
fireplaces or in recycled oil drums for stoves. Charlottesville revolved around those trips and
As the winter was waning, the most desperate figuring out ways to make do without the nor-
need was for fuel for driving motors and gen- mal supplies and services. Some chanced
erators. Even the drinking water was depend- outings to forage for a greater variety of food,
ent on the emergency generator that ran a but most were resigned to waiting. There
single purifying system for the Rivanna Water wasnt much else they could do.
and Sewer Authority. (Water for other uses
could simply be drawn from the gravity-pow- * * *
ered reservoir system, bypassing the filtration
system entirely. ) The hospital and radio sta- Three weeks after the nuclear attack, almost
tions all ran on small generators. The Universi- all the Charlottesville and Albemarle County
ty could luxuriate in its coal-powered steam residents had returned to their homes. Those
heat, but there was no way, save generators or few whose homes had either been occupied by
candles and lanterns, to get lights. squatters, or been destroyed by fire, easily
130 The Effects of Nuclear War
. . . .-.- . . . . .

found some alternate housing with the govern- valuable commodities, with shoes and coats
ments help. high on the list as well.
This left the refugees. Though the drop in Since shortly after the attack, the city
fallout intensity allowed the refugees to move manager had been in contact both with the
out of basements and interior halls, they still Federal Government and with the relocated
were forced to I ive a version of camp Iife. They State government in Roanoke. He had repeat-
spent their endless, empty hours waiting in edly asked for emergency rations, only to be
lines for food, for a chance to use the bath- met with vague promises and explanations
rooms which at least functioned now for a about the problems of transportation. He was
chance to talk to authorities. Information from generally urged to cut rations further and hang
the outside was still sketchy, and for the on. Help would arrive when it could.
refugees, this uncertainty added to their For some time, the relatively few surviving
already high level of anxiety.
farm animals had been gradually and myster-
The city manager and the emergency iously disappearing. The farmers concluded
government attempted to solve the refugee that those damned city folks were stealing
housing problem by billeting refugees in them for food, although some of the local
private homes. At first they asked for residents were also making midnight forays on
volunteers, but got few, The authorities then the livestock. Farmers themselves slaughtered
announced that any house with fewer than two animals they had planned to fatten-up for the
people per room would be assigned a refugee future. They couldnt spare the feed grain, and
family. Resistance to this order was strong, they needed food now.
and, particularly in the outlying areas where it
Finally the emergency authorities announc-
was hard to check, outright defiance was com-
ed that they would take a percentage of every
mon. Families would pretend to comply and
farmers livestock to help feed residents and
then simply force the refugees out as soon as
refugees, Farmers were outraged, considering
the authorities had left. The refugees would
the action simple theft. There were rumors that
struggle back to town, or take up residence in
angry farmers had shot several agents who had
barns or garages.
tried to confiscate the animals. Though they
And still the refugees came to Charlottes- were offered promissory notes from the city
vilIe, bringing with them stories of the horrors authorities, the farmers thought such payment
they had experienced. They camped in worthless.
schools, in banks, in warehouses. By night the
(The radiological experts at the University
neoclassical architecture of the University was
had been questioned on the advisability of
packed with the residents of Arlington and
eating the meat of animals with radiation
Alexandria. By day, the new downtown mall
sickness. Many of those beasts which had re-
was awash with a floating mass of men,
mained outside during the high fallout period
women, and children, who, with nothing to do,
were showing clear signs of illness. The experts
milled around the unopened stores. A retired
decided that the meat would be edible if
ambassador was overheard comparing the
cooked sufficiently to kill any bacterial
scene to that of downtown Calcutta.
invasion the result of the deterioration of the
By now, the emergency government recog- animals digestive tract. Strontium 90 wouId be
nized that the need for food was going to be concentrated in the bones or the milk, not the
acute. Without power for refrigeration, much muscle tissue. )
food had spoiled; stocks of nonperishable
foods were mostly exhausted. As the shortages
became clear, the price of food skyrocketed. Although the city government had relatively
Many people refused money for food, prefer- frequent contact, mostly by radio, with the
ring to barter. Food and fuel were the most Federal and State governments, the citizens
Appendix CCharlottesville: A Fictional Account by Nan Randall 131

had to rely on the occasional Presidential However, the officials who had calculated the
message that was broadcast on WCHV. Three allotment had overlooked the refugees. Char-
weeks after the attacks, the President made a lottesvilles population was some three times
major address to reassure the people. He an- the normal. (No one was absolutely sure be-
nounced that the cease-fire was still holding cause the refugees moved around a good deal,
and he saw no reason why that would change. from camp to camp )
He described the damage that the U.S. retal-
iatory strike had done to the Soviet Union. He The first of the deaths from radiation had
also noted that the United States still retained occured 10 days after the attacks, and the
enough nuclear weapons, most of them at sea number grew steadily. By now, it was not un-
on submarines, to inflict considerable damage common to see mass funerals several times a
on any nation that attempted to take advan- day. The terminally ill were not cared for by
tage of the recent past. He did not mention the hospitals there were too many, and there
that he suspected that the Soviets also held was nothing that could be done for them any-
reserve weapons. way so it was up to their families to do what
they could. Fortunately there were still ample
Describing the damage that the country had
supplies of morphia, and it was rumored that
suffered, the President noted that, even with
college students had donated marijuana. The
the loss of over 100 million lives, We stilI have
reserves, both material and spiritual, unlike city set aside several locations on the outskirts
any nation on earth. He asked for patience of town for mass graves.
and for prayers.
In addition to those with terminal radiation
There had been broadcasts earlier by the sickness, there were those with nonfatal cases
Lieutenant Governor of Virginia the Gover- and those who showed some symptoms. Often
nor was killed in Richmond from his shelter it was impossible for doctors to quickly iden-
in Roanoke. However, as fallout in the tify those with flu or psychosomatic radiation
Roanoke area was quite high (Radford just to symptoms. The number of patients crowding
the west had been struck), he was effectively the emergency rooms did not slacken off. The
immobiIized for some time. The State govern- refugees, crowded together, passed a variety
ment appeared less organized than the Feder- of common disorders, from colds to diarrhea,
al. back and forth, Several public health experts
CharlottesvilIe was still on its own. Residents worried that an outbreak of measles or even
hunted game as the last of the food stocks dis- polio could come in the late spring. So far, we
appeared, but the fallout had killed most ani- have been lucky not to have a major epidemic
mals that were in the open. Refugees were re- of typhus or cholera, a doctor observed to his
duced to stealing. A number of people man- cotleagues.
aged to fill their gas tanks with contraband
gasoline and set out to forage in the mountains The supply of drugs on hand at the hospitals
to the west. was dwindling fast. Although penicillin could
be manufactured fairly easily in the labora-
Three and one-half weeks after the attack,
tories at the university, many other drugs were
an old propeller-driven cargo plane landed at
not so simple, even with talent and ingenuity.
the Charlottesville Airport with a supply of (The penicillin had to be administered with
flour, powdered milk, and vegetable oil. The
large veterinary hypodermics as the home-
pilot assured the few policemen who guarded
made mix was too coarse for the small dispos-
the airstrip that more would be on the way by
able hypes that most doctors stocked. There
truck as soon as temporary bridges could be was a considerable shortage of needles.) Other
built over the major rivers.
medications were in such short supply that
The emergency airlift was supposed to sup- many patients with chronic illnesses such as
ply CharlottesviIle with food for a week or two. heart disease, kidney failure, respiratory prob-
132 The Effects of Nuclear War

Iems, hypertension, and diabetes died within a breeding ground for discontent and even rebel-
few weeks. lion.
* * * * * *
The presence of the Federal Government
Food riots broke out 4 weeks after the
was not entirely confined to the occasional
attacks precipitated by the first large ship-
delivery of food or radio broadcast. Some time
ment of grain. Three large tractor-trailers had
before, the National Guard and the Reserve
pulled into the parking lot of the Citizens Com-
Unit were moved to North Carolina, partly to
monwealth Building quite unexpectedly, the
give the impression of military readiness, and
word of their arrival somehow misplaced be-
perhaps to be assigned to dig out cities and
tween the Agriculture Department dispatchers
start reconstruction. The Government had put
and the local authorities. The trucks were
out calls for volunteers to help in the recon-
greeted with cheers until the residents of
struction, but found that most workers, young
Charlottesville discovered that they had been
and old, wanted to stay with their families. A
shipped raw grain rather than flour. The drivers
system of national conscription for young men
were taken unawares when empty cans and
and women with no children was in the plan-
bottles showered them and one driver jumped
ning stage.
in his cab and departed. (The official explana-
tion, delivered some time later, was that proc- The Federal Government attempted to urge
essed food was going to those areas where the refugees back to where they had come from,
bulk of the population was sick or injured. It first to assist in the rebuilding of the damaged
was also assumed that Charlottesville had cities which were rich in resources, and ulti-
some livestock reserves. ) mately to redistribute the population to a
more normal pattern. Some refugees were hap-
With only a fraction of the population know- py to attempt to return, particularly those
ing what to do with raw grain, a number of whose houses were more or less intact. How-
angry citizens broke open the sacks and scat- ever, those who found their homes destroyed
tered wheat through the parking lot. They in preferred to return to the refugee camps in-
turn were set upon by those who wanted to land. There was nothing to hold them to their
conserve as much as possible. The local public former lives. Fearful memories of the past
safety forces waded into the melee with night made any time spent in the cities painful.
sticks and tear gas.
One day, quite without warning, the city
Everyone blamed everyone else for the inci- manager was informed that one-half of his fuel
dent, but the fragile glue that had held public stores were to be confiscated by the Federal
order together began to unstick. Government, for the military and for the re-
construction effort. (Earth-moving equipment
From this time on, it was almost impossible was gathering on the outskirts of the devas-
for the local authorities, not to mention the tated cities and needed fuel. ) After it was clear
State and Federal governments, to convince that there was no way to stop the Government
everyone they were getting a fair share. People from taking the fuel, the city manager sug-
in one section of town would watch suspicious- gested that unmarked tank trucks, well
ly as delivery trucks passed them by and guarded, pick up the stocks at night. He was
headed somewhere else. Blacks distrusted aware of the effect this action would have on
whites, the poor distrusted the rich and every- the morale of the population.
one distrusted the refugees as outsiders.
Already transportation was difficult for the
The refugees were convinced that the local elderly and those who lived in the rural areas.
authorities were favoring the residents and A sporadic bus service ran from one end of
tried repeatedly to get State intervention, with town to the other once a day and an occasion-
little success. Still billeted in dormitories, al school bus made a sortie out into the
schools, and motels, the refugee camps were a suburbs. Bicycles were prized, and sometimes
Appendix CCharlottesville: A Fictional Account by Nan Randall 133

fought over. Those gentlemen farmers whose The effect on the Charlottesville and Albe-
thoroughbred horses had been protected from marle residents was less pronounced. They
fallout could use these animals for transporta- were disoriented. For each lucky one who had
tion, but it was risky to let the animals stand a specific job to do, there were many more
unprotected. Horse thievery had made an who were in effect unemployed. They turned
anachronistic reappearance. inward to their families or else friends and rela-
tives. Their worries about the futurewould
With even less fuel, the bus service would be there be another attack, would they go back to
cut in half. their old jobs, etc. made most days rather
* * * anxious, unproductive ones. Children particu-
larly reflected a continuous nervousness,
By now, barter was clearly established as the picked up from their elders, and had difficulty
preferred means of trade. For a time, the gov-
sleeping at night. Though many parents hoped
ernment had paid for commandeered food- for a return to normalcy once the schools re-
stuff and resources with checks and prom is- opened, others quietly decided not to send
sory notes, but no one wanted them any more. their children for fear of a second outbreak of
The local banks had opened for a few days, war.
only to find all their savers lined up to with-
draw everything. They closed down. Stores * * *
either never opened, or shut down quickly
when they were overrun. (Many stores had Spring changed a lot of things. A new opti-
been looted in the second week after the at- mism surfaced as everyone looked forward to
tack, when the fallout intensity had dropped.) planting, to good weather and warmth. The
A few people hoarded money, but most residents of Charlottesville had survived the
thought money worthless. first hurdle; they felt confident they could sur-
vive the next.
Workers in the small industries in the Char-
lottesville area saw no point in turning up for At the University, agronomists studied the
work if all they could get was paper money. best crops to plant in the Charlottesville area.
They preferred to spend the time hunting for No one was certain what effect the nuclear ex-
food and fuel. If barter was a highly inefficient plosions had had on the ozone layer. If indeed
way to do business its hard to make change the ozone was severely damaged, more ultra-
for a side of beefstill, it was preferable to violet rays could reach the crops and perhaps
using worthless currency. burn them. This effect would be more pro-
nounced on delicate crops such as peas and
Psychologically, the population seemed to
beans. Instead it was suggested that potatoes
be in a quiet holding pattern. The refugees,
and soybeans be encouraged and whatever
many of them, had survived experiences that
limited fertilizer became available go to farm-
would mark them for years. The memories of
ers who followed the government guidelines.
fire, collapsing buildings, and screaming,
trapped people were still vivid, and some The emergency government announced that
would tremble at loud noises. However, the two-thirds of the former pasture land was to be
profound grief over what they had lostfam- cultivated. Feed grains were to be used for
ily members, possessions, or friends underlay humans, not Iivestock. Dairy cattle and
emotions and made many apathetic and pas- chickens were the only exceptions.
sive Victims of the nuclear attacks, they ap-
peared willing to be victims afterwards too. The next few months in Charlottesville and
Still shunned as outsiders by the resident popu- Albemarle County had a slow, almost dream-
lation, most refugees appeared to accept the like quality. Fears of new attacks had abated.
exclusion just as the surviving population of It was a time of settling into a new lifestyle, a
Hiroshima and Nagasaki had 30 odd years severely simplified way of being, of making do.
before. Children ate meat, cheese, or eggs rarely,
134 The Effects of Nuclear War

adults practically never. A good pair of shoes community resorted to the hallowed art of rid-
was guarded and worn only on special occa- ing the rods.
sions. (With warmer weather, most children
and adults went barefoot, bringing concern to Government officials, many of whom had
doctors that there would be an increase in visited CharlottesvilIe and the University fre-
parasitic diseases such as hookworm. ) quently in the past, kept in closer contact with
the city than with many other locales. Doubt-
Many people were unable to return to their less the area residents benefited with more
former jobs. In some cases, their employers Federal assistance, As a result, Charlottesville
never reopened for business, their goods and became the unofficial capital of the area,
services being irrelevant in the postattack economicalIy and politicalIy.
society. College teachers, for example, had no
But as autumn approached, a universal de-
students to teach; computer programmers had
pression settled on the residents and refugees.
no computers to program.
Starvation had been heId at bay by the plant-
For some, it was relatively easy to adapt. ing but crop yields were smalIer than ex-
Electronics experts set up CB and short wave pected. No one was cold, but the weather was
radio repair shops. Cottage industries sandal still fine. There seemed to be no appreciable
and clothing manufacturing from recycled progress towards preattack conditions. Those
materials, soap and candle making sprang up young men and women who had been con-
in many homes. Some workers were able to ac- scripted to build housing for the Nations
quire new, relevant skills quickly. refugees returned with gloomy reports of the
devastation to the Nations commerce. The
Others had to make do with menial jobs east coast was effectively leveled. Where fac-
burying the dead, cleaning the streets, assisting tories were rebuildable, the shortage of materi-
carpenters and bricklayers that took little als precluded their operation.
Recognizing that many families would have
And then there were those who could not fit to make do without heating oil or gas, the
in anywhere. Many found it difficult to adapt AgricuIture Extension Service issued pam-
to the idleness. Disruption of the 9 to 5 work phlets on how to make your own wood-burning
ethic was a disruption of basic psychological stove. Fortunately for Charlottesville and the
props, of a sense of identity. In the immediate surrounding area, trees were plentiful. How-
period after the attacks, parents concentrated ever, the momentum that had started with the
on protection of their families. Once their spring planting slowed,
families were no longer directly affected,
adults were robbed of their traditional roles. * * *

By now, a few of the refugees had melted Winter was harder than anyone had ex-
into the general popuIation. But the vast ma- pected. There were few additional deaths that
jority were no further along than in the late could be directly attributed to the nuclear
winter. The drag on the area resources was sig- blast effects or the radiation; however, a large
nificant, and many in the leadership wanted to percentage of the surviving population was
force them out. weakened. Lack of medicines, lack of ade-
quate food and reasonable shelter, plus the
Charlottesville was fortunate in many re- lingering physical and psychological effects,
spects, however. Being located on two easily meant that many were unable to work effec-
repairable rail Iines with a major storage tively, even if there were work available. An
yard for cars only two counties awaythere epidemic of flu raged through the cities of the
was some access to the outside world. Travel east where refugees were huddled in camps.
was only permitted with a special pass, Many died, especially children and old people.
naturally, and so the younger members of the Although vaccine for this particular, common
Appendix CCharlottesville: A Fictional Account by Nan Randall 135

strain of fIu had been developed, the stocks ning. The University had not returned to nor-
had been destroyed in the attacks mal there were no undergraduate classes as
the students had been conscripted for recon-
I n the northern sections of the country, food
struction work in the cities but it was a natu-
supplies were inadequate and poorly distrib-
ral meeting place since so many centers of
uted. The average diet day in, day out con-
learning had been destroyed.
sisted of unleavened bread and potatoes,
where there was enough of those. As animal The questions before the group centered on
herds, both domestic and wild, had been deci- setting priorities: what were the goals and how
mated by faIlout and indiscriminate hunting, couId the country reach them?
the only available meat came from dogs, cats,
The U.S. Government still existed, if in a
and rats those animaIs whose Iiving habits
SIightly reordered form. The President, now
protected them from fallout. Dietary deficien-
permanently located in the Midwest along
cy diseases appeared.
with the surviving Members of Congress and
Growing children were the first to notice the the Cabinet, retained the emergency powers he
lack of replacement clothesparticularly had taken just after the attacks. (Congress had
leather shoes. Coats and blankets were highly had no choice but to ratify his assumption of
prized in the cold climates. these extraordinary powers at the time. How-
ever, there was growing resentment that he
Next to food, the most severe shortage was
showed few signs of relinquishing them. Con-
housing. Even with the temporary barracks
gress was reduced to a kind of advisory body,
that had been erected in a cluster around the
its Members spending most of their time on
damaged cities, refugees were crowded two or
helping constituents relocate or obtain a id.)
three to a room, Kitchens were shared by four
and five families; bathrooms by as many as 12 The State governments had, by and large, re-
people. established themselves, often in new locations.
Virginias government was located in Roanoke,
Although there was relatively little work to
for example, under the Lieutenant Governor.
occupy time, and schooling was strictly cur-
State governments were not as well respected
tailed, if indeed it existed, there was also very
as before; citizens tended to blame them for
little available recreation. The entertainment
the mixups in aid distribution. Only the refu-
industry located in California and New York
gees looked to the States for assistance against
had been particularly hard hit. Local TV sta-
the local governments, which they distrusted.
tions could broadcast and rebroadcast those
The residents of an area such as Charlottesville
old films and cartoons they had in stock, but
were most loyal to their local government, par-
little was fed nationwide, In the small towns,
ticularly when that government had a reputa-
public libraries were overwhelmed. In the large
tion of basic evenhandedness.
cities, the Iibraries had been destroyed. There
were no movie houses to speak of; there were Everyone, however, was growing hostile to
no professional sports. The lack of recreation, the imposition of strict governmental controls
perhaps a minor problem, still served to under- over their lives what they could or could not
score the bleakness of the winter. buy, or eat, where they could travel, etc. I n cer-
tain rural sections, such as Nelson County,
In Charlottesville alone, several thousand
south of Charlottesville, farmers had barri-
people died in the first winter after the nuclear
caded themselves off, ignored government
orders, and occasionally, it was rumored, took
* * * potshots at the government agents.
A year almost to the day after the nuclear Attempts to conscript the able-bodied to re-
war between the United States and the Soviet build the damaged areas often failed miser-
Union, Charlottesville was host to a blue rib- ably. Many simply walked off the job and re-
bon panel of experts on reconstruction plan- turned to their families. Since there were no
136 The Effects of Nuclear war

adequate records remaining of the prewar The Nations economy was in shambles. The
population, and no records at all of war bulk of the oil refining capacity had been
deaths, the Government found it an impossible knocked out, and only a few facilities were
task to track down offenders. (Criminals in functioning again. The small oil wells around
medium- and light-security detention facilities the country that were situated away from
had simply evaporated into the population.) target areas produced more oil than the
refineries could handle and it was only a
Charlottesville, like the rest of the undam-
fraction of the need. Coal mining, mostly by
aged parts of the country, still had a huge
the time-honored pick and shovel method as
refugee population that was unwilling or
strip mining took heavy equipment, was the
unable to return to former homes. The majori-
only industry that could be called booming.
ty were in camps such as the large facility in
(There was a major migration to the mining
the old Lane School, and children were in day
areas by the unemployed. ) Agriculture, of
care or orphanages, depending on the status of
course, was a major undertaking for much of
their surviving families. If anything, the
the population. However, yields from the
refugees were both more apathetic and more
farms were considerably below what had been
rebellious when faced with simple assign-
hoped for. The lack of pesticides and fertilizer
ments. Lawless bands of teenaged refugees
cut heavily into the crops and there was con-
roamed the countryside, hijacking supply
cern about a major insect invasion next sum-
trucks and raiding farms and villages. Partly it
mer. Food processing wheat and corn milling
was simple bravado, partly a way to feed
particularly showed encouraging signs of
themselves. Most refugees simply sat and
waited for the next meal.
Most major industries, however, were in dis-
Yet even now, the flow of refugees con-
array as a result of lack of energy, lack of raw
tinued. The winter had driven out those who
materials, and lack of managerial expertise.
could not find enough to eat or enough shelter.
The world economy was staggering from the
Stories of Vermont families subsisting on
effect of losing both the United States and the
maple syrup and wild rabbits might have
Soviet Union as suppliers and markets. (If the
proven entertaining in the retelling, but those
Latin Americans were able to make small for-
who had survived did not want to repeat the
tunes on selling the U.S. refined petroleum,
political pressures were building in those coun-
The medical problems were still acute. Drug tries to raise the prices to double the current
supplies were almost exhausted, but the weak- rates. )
ened population remained more susceptible to
An efficient system of money still had not
disease. The birth rate had fallen drastically 9
been reestablished. The Federal Government
months after the attacks, partly because of the
paid the military and other Federal employees
radiation, which produced temporary steriliza-
with dollars and tried to preserve purchasing
tion but there had also been a rise in miscar-
power through a series of price controls. How-
riages, stillbirths, and abnormalities. Infant
ever, most people were reluctant to accept
mortality soared. Experts worried that an un-
dollars in exchange for essentials such as food
precedented increase in cancer, particularly in
or clothing. As a result, a barter system con-
children, could be expected in several years.
tinued to flourish and the black market, with
And there was still the possibility of some
its highly inflated prices, continued to en-
devastating epidemic as cholera running un-
courage defiance of the law.
checked through the population. The Blue
Ridge Sanatorium in Charlottesville, which had Most experts believed that the experience of
seen few tuberculosis patients in the last years post-World War II in Europe and Japan could
before the attacks, was making plans to con- provide the model for currency reform, includ-
vert back to specializing in the disease. TB was ing replacement of the dolIar, that was neces-
making a comeback. sary to restore an economy based on the divi-
Appendix CCharlottesville: A Fictional Account by Nan Randall 137

sion of labor. However, the resolution of two ployed and unemployable for the time being.
policy issues stood in the way. First, should the Their skills were not suited to the priority
market, on one hand, or Government control, tasks. Several participants had prepared a
on the other, determine the distribution of statement on what should be done with these
scarce resources? Second, should the new nonproductive members of society. We can-
money go to those with legitimate claims, pen- not let this mass of people drain our resources
sions, promissory notes for goods confiscated while they do nothing to contribute, it was
during the postattack period etc., or to those rumored to say. If we cannot let them starve
who held productive jobs, or even to the entire outright, we suggest that they be issued only
population even if many were more drag than that amount of food which is minimally
help to the recovery? Politically, the Govern- necessary to sustain life. They should be
ment was unable to deny any one of the moved to camps away from the center of ac-
groups; practically, it was obvious the Govern- tivity for reason of public morale. The report
ment couId not satisfy al I three. was suppressed but several copies were leaked
to the press anyway.
It was clear that if the economy did not get
moving again soon, it might never. Already The most basic disagreement among the par-
there were indications that manufacturing was ticipants in the conference was over the level
not reestablishing itself with anywhere near of reconstruction that might actually be feasi-
the speed the planners had hoped. The amount ble. Optimists cited the phenomenal recovery
of shipping, by rail and by truck, was actually of Japan and West Germany after World War
down from the mid-summmer high. I I and insisted that these be the models for the
United States in the next 5 to 10 years
We are in the classic race, remarked one
of the participants who had written a major Pessimists, noting the major differences be-
study of postattack recovery some years tween the post-World War 11 era and the situa-
before. We have to be able to produce new tion of Japan and Germany, felt these ex-
goods and materials before we exhaust our amples were irrelevant, or worse, misleading.
stored supplies. We can continue to eat the Everyone forgets the amount of aid that came
wheat that is in the grain elevators of the in from outside in the late 4os and early 50s.
Midwest for another year, perhaps. But after We dont have the United States, wealth to
that, we have to have the capacity to grow new turn to. Such a goal is unrealistic and un-
wheat, When our winter coats wear through, reachable, even with absolute controls on the
we have to have the capacity to weave the economy.
cloth for new ones. When our railroad cars
break down, we have to be able to make new The pessimists were divided. Some saw the
ones, or replacement parts. Right now we are a Nation building itself along the line of some of
long way from that capacity. Privately, he the Asian nations, which boasted a small tech-
and a group of conferees agreed that heavy nologically advanced segment in the midst of
controls on the economy, and ultimately on a large agrarian or unskilled worker popula-
the population, would be the only way to get tion, on the model of India or Indonesia. Some
things going. Resources, both material and thought technology itself would eventually
human, were severely limited, disappear from American society. If you
dont have computers to run, you dont train
One of the major problems, it was obvious computer programmers, one expert was over-
to everyone, was the drag the huge refugee heard to say. After a while, in a few genera-
population had on the recovery effort. While tions, no one remembers how the machines
numbers of workers were actively engaged in worked at all. They remember the important
the rebuildin g of the cities as well as the fac- things: how to plant crops, how to train draft
tories and services that powered the economy, horses and oxen, how to make a simple pump.
there were as many more who were unem- We will have survived biologically, but our
138 The Effects of Nuclear War

way of Iife is going to be unrecognizable. In get there, the conference report straddled all
several generations, the United States is going fences and concluded nothing. Follow-up task
to resemble a late medieval society. forces were appointed and the conferees
agreed to meet again in the summer. Perhaps
Because the conferees could not agree on by then they would have a better idea of
what was a reasonable goal, much less how to whether or not they were winnin g the race.


[Note: The full report, classified SECRET, is available separately to qualified requesters.]


This appendix summarizes and analyzes Iy viewed by the sponsoring agency as being
studies of the direct effects of nuclear attacks valid and applicable to the current through
that have been performed by and for various mid-1980's time period, with the U.S. and
agencies of the executive branch of the U.S. Scviet forces projected under a SALT I I agree-
Government in recent years. This review in- ment.
eludes those studies whose results are current-


The estimates of the direct effects of nucle- ates against a similar set of Soviet targets.
ar attacks presented in this paper represent More protracted (and more likely) attack sce-
analyses performed by or for the Department narios are not examined. Hence, such factors
of the Defense (DOD), the Arms control and as the feasibility of sustaining popuIation in a
Disarmament Agency (ACDA), and the intelli- protected or evacuated posture over a pro-
gence community. Although these analyses tracted duration, either i n a continuing crisis
describe the direct effects of nuclear attacks in with no nuclear attacks or one with attacks re-
terms of popuIation fatalities and attack dam- peated every few days or so, are not refIected
age objectives against military, Ieadership, and i n the damage estimates avaiIable from these
economic target systems, it is recognized that studies and included in this report
a more meaningfuI basis for assessing the
Five questions provided the focus for the
direct effects of nuclear attacks would be to
anaIyticaI results exam in this study:
analyze the effects of such attacks in terms of
postwar national survival and recovery To 1. How many people would be killed by:
date, however, analytical capabilities have not Prompt effects of nuclear explosions?
permitted such analyses, I n fact, the complex Fallout radiation?
issues concerning nationaI recovery shouId 2. What number of nonfataI but disubIing in-
nucIear war occur, or the postwar power and juries C OuId be expected?
recovery capabilities of the belIigerents, have 3. What areas would possibly receive dam-
as yet not even been properly formulated for aging levels of overpressure and how
analysis. Until that is accomplished, analyses many peopIe Iive o r work i n those areas?
of the direct effects of nuclear attacks will 4. What areas would receive what levels of
continue to focus, as have the studies used for fallout contamination ?
this analysis, on one-dimensional first-order 5. What wouId be the possible extent of fire
direct effects damage, and what mechanisms would cre-
ate it?
Furthermore, all analyses examined in this
study assume a two-shot nuclear war the Answers to these questions, as provided in the
Soviets strike first against all targets included various studies used in this anaIysis, are given
under a particuIar scenario and the U S. retali- i n the following section.


140 The Effects of Nuclear War


In viewing the estimated direct effects of nu- to a radically unfamiliar environment and so-
clear attacks, particularly population casual- cial structure, further limits the validity of
ties, it is important to focus on the relative these estimates as a net assessment of the
numbers for the various nuclear attack scenar- damage to be expected as a result of nuclear
ios examined, as opposed to the absolute. The war.
analyses on which these estimates are based
do not take into account the many imponder-
able associated with such a cataclysmic Population Damage
event, the majority of which would cause
higher levels of human devastation than are in- Table D-1 summarizes in terms of total na-
dicated by the analyses of hypothetical at- tional population high- and low-range fatality
tacks. A significant imponderable is the uncer- estimates derived from the various analyses
tainty of human behavior. Would people really used for this report. I n view of the many uncer-
react as planned and as assumed in the com- tain factors involved in such estimates, it is not
puter models? Also, our ability to simulate possible to synthesize a best estimate range
even the immediate direct effects from thou- from the results of the studies used for this
sands of nuclear detonations based on data ex- analyses.
trapolateions from single bursts is suspect
because of its inherent uncertainties. And, Differences within and between the low and
finally, the inability to assess the longer term high ranges listed in the table are due primarily
prospects for the immediate survivors, which to differences in force alert status, weapons
would depend not only on the availability of laydown, population protection level, popula-
subsistence levels of food, medical supplies, tion data base, and/or evacuation scheme
etc., but also on how quickly they could adapt assumed.

Table 0-1 .OTA Attack CasesExecutive Branch Fatality Estimates

Population Percent of national fatalities

Case OTA attack cases posture Low range High range
(not available)
(not available)
1-3 8-10
< 1 1-4
< 1-5 7-11

35-50 59-77
10-26 32-43
20-32 26-40
14-23 26-27

28-40 47-51
Appendix DSummary of Report on Executive Branch Calculations 141

For Soviet First-Strike Attacks assumes 66 percent of the total exurban popu-
on the United States, Against: lation would be able to obtain fallout protec-
tion of 10 to 40 PF. Those persons not pro-
ICBM Targets Only (Case 3). The 1- to 3-per-
cent spread in the low range results from tected were assumed to be equalIy divided be-
assureing two 550-kiIoton (kt) optimum height- tween between a PF of 3 and of 6. The 7-per-
cent value assumes only 33 percent of the total
of-burst (OPT HOB) weapons per silo (1-per-
cent national fatalities) versus assureing one exurban population would be able to obtain
550-kt OPT HOB and one surface burst 550-kt fallout protection of 10 to 40 PF. The rest were
weapon per silo (3-percent national fatalities). assumed to be equally divided between a PF of
3 and 6. This range of values is listed as high
The 8- to 10-percent spread in the high range
because it results from assuming that no ex-
results from assuming one 3-megaton (Mt) OPT
pedient fallout protection upgrading could be
HOB and one surface-burst 3-Mt weapon per
silo (8 percent) versus assureing two 3-Mt sur- achieved by the evacuated popuIation.
face bursts per silo (1 O percent). The difference Counterforce, Other Military Targets, and Eco-
between the ranges is due to the difference in nomic Targets (Case 4). The 35- to 50-percent
the yield of the assumed weapons. low range for in-p/ace U.S. population fatal-
All Counterforce Targets (Case 3).The less ities results from assuming day-to-day alert (35-
than 1-to 3-percent low range for in-p/ace U.S. percent fatalities) versus generated forces (50-
population fatalities results from the dif- percent fatalities), and that 90 percent of the
ference in fallout protection levels assumed by U.S. population are sheltered in available civil
DOD and AC DA. The less than l-percent value defense shelters. The 59- to 77-percent high
assumes an enhanced U.S. in-place fallout pro- range reflects differences in weapons Iaydown
tection program that would provide a fallout and popuIation protection level. The 59-per-
protection factor (PF) of at least 25 for the en- cent vaIue assumes a generated forces Soviet
tire population. The 3-percent value assumes attack with about 60 percent of the weapons
in-place fallout shelters providing PFs of 10 to air burst and that only 66 percent of the U.S.
1,000 and that 90 percent of the population population are sheltered in available civil
would use the shelters. The unprotected por- defense shelters. The 77-percent value also
tion of the population is assumed to be equally assumed a generated forces attack, but with
divided between a PF of 3 and 6. The 7- to 11- all weapons ground burst and no civil defense
percent high range also results from differ- sheltering of the popuIation. The reasons for
ences in fallout protection levels assumed by the differences between the ranges are the dif-
DOD and AC DA. In this case, the 7-percent ferences in assumed population protection
value assumes the current U.S. in-place fallout levels and weapons Iaydown.
protection program. PFs as low as 5 are as-
Counterforce, Other Military Targets, and Eco-
sumed for about one-half of the U.S. rural
nomic Targets (Case 4). The 10- to 26-percent
population, and PFs as low as 15 for one-quar-
low range for evacuated U.S. population fatal-
ter of U.S. urban population. The 1 l-percent
ities results from differences in assumed weap-
value assumes essentially no U.S. civil defense
ons Iaydown. The 10-percent value assumes
program and a PF of 3 for the entire U.S. popu-
about half the attacking weapons are air burst.
lation. The difference between the ranges
The 26-percent value assumes all weapons are
refIects the differences in the assumed fallout
ground burst. Both values in the low range
protection levels.
assume expedient upgrading of fallout protec-
All Counterforce Targets (Case 3). The 5- to tion couId be achieved by the evacuated popu-
7-percent high range for evacuated U.S. popu- lation, that is, a fallout PF of at least 25 for the
lation fatalities reflects ACDAs assumptions entire U.S. population. The 32- to 43-percent
concerning the amount of fallout protection high range reflects ACDAs assumptions as to
available for the combined rural and evacu- the fallout protection that could be achieved
ated urban population. The 5-percent value by the evacuated population. The 32-percent
142 The Effects of Nuclear War

retIects the effect of ground bursting all

weapons versus air bursting about half the
weapens The difference between the ranges is
due to differences in assumed population pro-
tection levels,

Counterforce, Other Military Targets, Econom-

ic, and Population (Case 4 excursion). In this
case the 60- to 80-percent fatality range for
U.S. population in-place reflects the impact of
the protection levels assumed. The 60-percent
value corresponds to the high protection levels
used by DC PA. The 88-percent value cor-
responds to the more modest levels assumed
by OSD analysts. This range is listed as high
because of the severity (all ground bursts and
all but 10- to 15-percent of Soviet weapons) of
the attack used.

Counterforce, Other Military Targets, Econom-

ic, and Population (Case 4 excursion). The 28-
to 40- percent low range for U.S. population
evacuated refIects the d inferences between
DODs and ACDAs assumptions concerning
levels of fallout protection, evacuation
scheme, and weapons Iaydown. The 28-percent
value assumes expedient upgraded protection
levels as specified by DCPA and evacuation of
80 percent of all risk area population. The 40-
percent value reflects ACDAs less extensive
evacuation scheme (only cities with popula-
tion greater than 25,000 are evacuated) and no
expedient upgrading of protection levels. In
addition, the 28-percent value results from an
attack with all weapons ground burst and the
40- percent value assumes about half the val-
ues are air burst. The 47- to 51-percent high
range also results from differences in fallout
protection, evacuation scheme, and weapons
Iaydown. In this case the 47-percent value
assumes degraded protection levels based on
DODs sensitivity analysis, and evacuation of
80 percent of all risk area population. The 51-
percent value also reflects degraded protec-
tion levels, only 33 percent of the total exur-
ban population are able to obtain protection
in rural shelters, and AC DAs Iess-extensive
relocation scheme. Once again, the range also
reflects the effect of ground bursting all
weapons versus air bursting about half the
weapons. The difference between the ranges is
Appendix DSummary of Report on Executive Branch Calculations 143

clue to differences in assumed population pro- side because of the coarseness of the Soviet
tection levels. data base used by ACDA. Conversely, the evac-
uation scheme assumed by ACDA would sug-
For U.S. Retaliatory Attacks on gest that it be considered a high range.
the U. S. S. R., Against:
Counterforce, Other Military Targets, and Eco-
ICBM Targets Only (Case 3). The low, less nomic Targets (Case 4). l-he 20- to 32-percent
than l-percent, value assumes one OPT HOB low range for in-place Soviet population fatal-
weapon per silo In this case fatalities are less it results from d inferences i n force aIert
than 1 percent for attacks using only 40-kt, status and weapons Iaydown assumed T he 20-
only 200-kt, or only 1-Mt weapons The high percent value reflects day-to-day alert forces
range of 1 to 4 percent results from assuming and an attack using only 40-kt air-burst weap-
one ground-burst weapon per silo. I n this case ons against economic targets. The 32-percent
the 1-percent value assumes only 200-kt weap- vaIue reflects generated forces and an attack
ons and the 4-percent value assumes only 1-Mt using d mixture of weapens against economic
weapons are used. The differences between targets. The 26- to 40-percent high range
the range reflects the effect of OPT HOB refIects differences between ACDA and DOD
weapons versus ground bursting al I weapons. assumptions. The 26-percent vaIue from ACDA
All Counterforce Targets (Case 3). The less analysis assumes relatively good popuIation
protection levels and a lower amount of EMT
than 1-percent low value for in-p/ace Soviet
population assumes relatively good fallout
used against economic tar-gets than assumed i n
protection for the entire Soviet population the DOD analysis. The W-percent vaIue from
DOD analysis reflect lower popuIation pro-
and, in the case of ACDAs analysis, a U.S. at-
tack based on a preplanned laydown using in tection levels, a finer popuIation data base,
part U.S. ICBMs that do not survive the Soviet and a Iarger attack against economic targets
first strike. The high range reflects differences than used i n the ACDA anaIysis. The difference
in weapons laydown, population protection i n assumptions made by DOD, AC DA, and the
levels, and data bases used by ACDA and interagency intelIigence group.
DOD. The less than l-percent value reflects Counterforce, Other Military Targets, and Eco-
ACDAs preplanned attack laydown, relatively nomic Targets (Case 4). The 9- to 14-percent
good fat lout protection assumptions, and use range reflects the difference in poplation pro-
of a coarser Soviet population data base. The tection levels used by ACDA for evacuated
5-percent value refIects DODs attack lay Soviet population. The 9-percent value
down, which does not attrite U.S. weapons due assumes 66 percent use available sheIters The
to a Soviet first strike, lower fallout protection 14 percent assumes only 33 percent use avail-
assumptions, and use of a finer Soviet popula- able shelters It is difficult to judge whether
tion data base The difference between the this refIects a low or high range. The coarse-
ranges results from all these differences i n ness of the Soviet data base used by AC DA
dassumptions. wouId suggest it be treated as a low range
All Counterforce Targets (Case 3). The less Conversely, the ACDA evacuation scheme
than 1- to 2-percent variation results from dif- would suggest it be considered a high range.
ferences in popuIation protection levels as- Counter-force and Other Military Targets (Case
sumed by ACDA for evacuated Soviet popu- 3 excursion) .The differences within both
Iation. The less than 1 -percent value assumes ranges for Soviet population in-p/ace refIects
66 percent of the exurban popuIation use the variation in protection levels assumed by
avaiIable sheltering. Those not using such shel- AC DA. The difference between the ranges is
tering are assigned protection levels of 3 and 6 due to the alert status of U.S. forces used.
in equal shares. It is difficuIt to judge whether
this represents a low or high range On one Counterforce and Other Military Targets (Case
hand the range could be considered on the low 3 excursion).The 6- to 9-percent range
744 The Effects of Nuc/ear War

reflects the variation in protection levels For attacks against ICBMs or counterforce
assumed by ACDA for evacuated Soviet popu- target sets, nonfatal injuries would about
lation, 66 percent use available shelters versus equal fatalities.
33 percent. As in the previous cases, with For attacks that include economic targets,
Soviet population evacuated, it is difficult to but not population per se, nonfatal in-
judge if this is a low or high range of fatalities. juries would vary from about 20 to 40 per-
cent of total casualties.
Counterforce, Other Military Targets, Econom- For attacks including population, non-
ic, and Population (Case 4 excursion). Fatality fatal injuries vary from about 8 to 25 per-
estimates range from 40 to 50 percent for Sovi- cent of total casualties.
et population in-p/ace based on DOD analysis.
The variation is primarily due to differences in
assumed population protection levels. Given Military and Economic Damage
the rather low protection levels assumed by
DOD, the range probably represents the high Unlike population damage levels, which (ex-
level of Soviet fatalities. cept for excursions to Case 4) result only col-
laterally from attacks on other target sets,
Counterforce, Other Military Targets, Econom- damage levels against military and economic
ic, and Population (Case 4 excursion). Fatality target sets are input objectives used in struc-
estimates range from 22 to 26 percent for Sovi- turing the attack laydowns examined in the
et population evacuated based on ACDA anal- various analyses on which this report is based.
ysis. The variation reflects differences in Damage levels attained against these target
assumed popuIation protection levels; 66 per- systems in the studies examined in this analysis
cent use available shelters versus 33 percent. were:
Once again it is difficult to judge whether this
is a high or low range. The coarse data base For Soviet First-Strike Attacks Against
used by ACDA suggests their estimates are low, the United States:
but the evacuation scheme suggests they Counterforce Targets (Percent Total Dam-
might be high. aged). ICBMs (42 to 90 percent), SAC bomber
bases (90 to 99 percent), and submarine sup-
In examining the fatality ranges listed in port facilities (90 to 99 percent).
table D-1 it should be noted that the differ-
ences between U.S. and Soviet fatality levels Other Military Targets (Percent Installations
for comparable attacks and population pos- Damaged). Major military leadership facil-
tures can be primarily attributed to: ities (90 to 95 percent), State capitals (95 per-
cent), DCPA and FPA emergency operating
The nature of the nuclear attacks as- centers (95 percent), and other military in-
sumed in the various studies; that is, the stalIations (77 to 90 percent).
assumption that the Soviets attack first
and the United States retaliates in the Economic Targets. 70- to 90-percent damage
various attack scenarios examined, of the national manufacturin g value of the
economic targets attacked.
The higher yields of Soviet weapons,
which resuIt in significantly higher Ievels
of nuclear yield detonating in the United For U.S. Retaliatory Attacks Against
States than the U.S.S.R. for comparable the U. S. S. R.:
attack cases. Counterforce Targets (Percent Total Dam-
aged). Bomber bases (70 to 90 percent).
Although the data on nonfatal injuries avail-
able from the studies used in this analysis are Other Military Targets (Percent Installations
quite Iimited, the results suggest that: Damaged). Major military leadership facil-
Appendix DSummary of Report on Executive Branch Calculations 145

ities (70 to 90 percent), major political leader- As in the case of population fatalities, the
ship facilities (7o to 90 percent), and other differences between U.S. and Soviet damage
miliitary instalI at ions (20 to 50 percent). levels against strategic forces, other military
targets, and economic targets can be attrib-
Economic Targets. 70- to 90-percent damage
uted to the assumption that the Soviets strike
of the national manufacturing value added
first and to the larger yields of Soviet weapons.
plus capital replacement cost of the economic
targets attacked.

Physical Effects of Nuclear Warfare Agreements, Comm. Print: Analyses of Ef-

fects of Limited Nuclear Warfare, 94th
Ayers, R. N., Environmental Effects of Nucle- Cong , 1st sess (1975). Contains, among
ar Wea pens (3 VOLS, ), Hudson Inst., H 1-518, other things, the Sept. 11, 1974, Briefing on
December 1965. Counterforce Attacks by Secretary of
Batten, E. S., The Effects of Nuclear War on Defense, James R Schlesinger, and the
the Weather and Climate, RAND C o r p . ,
report of the Office of Technology Assess-
RM-4989, November 1966, ment Ad Hoc Panel on NucIear Effects.

Bennett, B., Fatality Uncertainties in Limited

Economic Impact of Nuclear War
Nuclear War, RAN D, R-2218-AF, Novem-
ber 1977. (General) and Economic Recovery
From Nuclear War
Defense Civil Preparedness Agency, U.S. De-
partment of Defense, DCPA Attack Envi- Goen, R., et al., Analysis of National Entity
r o n m e n t M a n u a l , Publication CPG 2-1A, 9 Survival, Stanford Research Institute, No-
Vols, June 1973 (vol. 4 revised June 1977). vember 1967,
Drell, S. and von Hippel, Limited Nuclear Goen, R., et al , Critical Factors Affecting Na-
War, Scientific American, November 1976. tional Survival, Stanford Research insti-
Glasstone and Dolen, eds: Effects of N u c l e a r tute, 1965,
Weapons, 3rd ed., U.S. Department of De- Goen, R., et al., Potential Vulnerabilities Af-
fense and Department of Energy, Washing- fecting National Survival, Stanford Re-
ton, DC., 1977, search Institute, 1970,
Green, J., Response to DCPA Questions on Hanunian, N , Dimensions of Survival: Postat-
Fallout, Defense Civil Preparedness Agen- tack Survival Disparities and National Via-
cy, Washington, D. C., November 1973. bility, RAND Corp., KM-51 40, November
Mark, J, C., Global Consequences of Nuclear 1966.
Weaponry, Annual Review of Nuclear Sci- Hirshleiter, j., , Economic Recovery, RAND,
ence, 1976, 26:51-87. P-11 60, August 1965,
National Academy of Sciences, Effects of Katz, A., Economic and Social Consequences
Multiple Nuclear Explosions Worldwide, of Nuclear Attacks on the United States,
Washington, D. C., 1975. U S Senate, Committee on Banking, Hous-
U.S. Arms Control & Disarmament Agency, ing, and urban Affairs, 96th Cong., 1st sess.
The Effects of Nuclear War, Washington, (March 1979),
D. C., April 1979. Laurius, R., and F. Dresch, National Entity
U.S. Congress, Senate, Committee on Foreign Survival: Measure and Countermeasure,
Relations, Subcommittee on Arms Control, Stanford Research Institute, 1971.
International Organizations, and Security Lee, H., et al., Industrial Production and Dam-
Agreements, Hearings: Effects of Limited age Repair Following Nuclear Attack,
Nuclear Warfare, 94th Cong., 1st sess. Stanford Research Institute, March 1968.
(1975). 61 p.
Pettis, Dzirbals, Krahenbuhl, Economic Re-
U.S. Congress, Senate, Committee on Foreign covery Following Nuclear Disaster: A
Relations, Subcommittee on Arms Control, Selected, Annotated Bibliography, RAND
International Organizations, and Security Corp., R-2143, December 1977.

Appendix ESuggestions for Further Reading 147

Sobin, B., Post Attack Recovery, Research Brown, W. M., E m e r g e n c y M o b i l i z a t i o n f o r

AnaIys is Corp., RAC-P-51, june 1970. Postattack Reorganization, Hudson Insti-
Winter, S.G., Jr., Economic Recovery From tute, H1-874/2, May 1968.
the Effects of Thermonuclear War, RAND, Brown, W., M , On Reorganizing After Nuclear
p-2416, August 1961. Attack, RAND, P-3764, January 1968.
Winter, S.G., Jr, Economic Viability After Dresch, F., "Information Needs for Post-Attack
Nuclear War: The Limits of Feasible Pro- R e c o v e r y M a n a g e m e n t , Stanford Re-
d u c t ion, R A N D , R M - 3 4 3 6 , S e p t e m b e r search Institute, ApriI 1968
1963 EIlis, Dresche, Industrial Factors in Total Vul-
nerabiIity, Stanford Research Institute,
Economic Impacts of Nuclear War April 1968.
(Specific), Including Agricultural Hirshleiter, J , Disaster and Recovery: A His-
Impacts torical Survey, RAND, RM-3079, April
Brown, S., A g r i c u l t u r a l V u l n e r a b i l i t y t o N u -
Ikle, F.,C., The Social Impact of Bomb Destruc-
c l e a r W a r , Stanford Research Institute,
tion, Norman, Okla., University of OkIa-
February 1973.
homa Press, 1958.
Jones, T.K., Industrial Survival and Recovery
Janis, l., Air War and Emotional Stress, New
After Nuclear Attack: A Report to the Joint
york: McGraw Hill, 1951.
Commit tee on Defence Production, U.S.
Congress, The Boeing Co., Seattle, Walsh., Vestermark, S., (cd.), Vulnerabilities of Social
1976 Structure, Human Sciences Research, Inc.,
December 1966.
Killion, et al., "Effects of Fallout Radiation on
Crop. Production, Comparative Animal Re- Winter, S. G., Jr., The Federal Role in Post At-
search Laboratory, July 1975 tack Economic Organization, P-3737,
RAND, November 1967.
Leavitt, J., Analysis and Identification of Na-
tIonaIIy EssentiaI Industries, Vol. I: Theo
reticaI Approach, I n s t i t u t e f o r D e f e n s e
Analyses, P-972, March 1974
Civil Defense
Stanford Research Institute, U S. Agriculture:
PotentiaI VuInerabiIities, January 1969. Aspin, Les, T h e M i n e s h a f t G a p R e v i s i t e d ,
Congressional Record, Jan. 15, 1979, pp.
Stantford Research I nstitute, A g r i c u l t u r a l V u l -
nerability in the National Entity Survival
Context, July 1970 Egorov, P. T., et al., Civil Defense, Springfield,
Va.: National Technical Information Serv-
Stephens, M M , VuInerabiIIty of Total Petro-
ice, 1973. A translation of C r a z h d a n s k a y a
l e u m S y t e m s , Office of Oil and Gas, De-
Oborna, 2nd cd., Moscow, 1970.
partment of the Interior, May 1973.
Goure, L., War Survival in Soviet Strategy,
Washington, D. C.: Advanced International
Administrative, Social, Psychological, Studies Institute, 1976.
etc., Factors Relating to Postattack Goure, L., Soviet Civil Defense in the Seventies,
Issues Washington, D.C.: Advanced International
Allmitt, B., A S t u d y o f C o n s e n s u s o n s o c i a l Studies Instititute, 1975.
and PsychologicaI Factors ReIated to Re- Kaplan, F. M., The Soviet Civil Defense Myth
covery From NucIear Attack, Human Sci- Parts I & Il, Bulletin of the Atomic Scien-
ences Research, Inc., May 1971 tists, March and April 1978.
148 The Effects of Nuclear War

Kincaid, W., Repeating History: the Civil De- U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency,
fense Debate Renewed, International Se- An Analysis of Civil Defense in Nuclear
curity, winter 1978. War, Washington, D. C., December 1978.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Civil Defense U.S. C. I. A., Soviet Civil Defense, Director of
(Grazhdanskaya Oborna) (translation), De- Central Intelligence, N178-10003, July 1978.
cember 1973. U. S. Congress, Senate, Committee on Banking,
Sullivan, R., et al., Candidate U.S. Civil De- Housing, and Urban Affairs, (Hearings on
fense Programs, System Planning Corp., Civil Defense), Jan. 8, 1979.
March 1978.
Sullivan, R., et al., Civil Defense Needs of
High-Risk Areas of the United States, Sys-
tem Planning Corporation, SPC 409,1979.

[This glossary is excerpted from the larger one in The Effects of Nuc/ear Weapons, 3rd cd., compiled
and edited by Samuel Glasstone and Philip J. DoIan, prepared and published by the U.S. Department
of Defense and the U.S. Department of Energy, Washington, D. C., 1977.]

Alpha Particle: A particle emitted spontaneous- plied in a collective sense to the contami-
ly from the nuclei of some radioactive ele- nated particulate matter itself. The early (or
ments. It is identical with a helium nucleus, local) fallout is defined, somewhat arbitrari-
having a mass of four units and an electric ly, as those particles which reach the Earth
charge of two positive units. within 24 hours after a nuclear explosion.
Cloud Column: The visible column of weapon The delayed (or worldwide) fallout consists
debris (and possibly dust and water droplets) of the smaller particles that ascend into the
extending upward from the point of burst of upper troposphere and into the stratosphere
a nuclear (or atomic) weapon. and are carried by winds to all parts of the
Earth. The delayed fallout is brought to
Crater: The pit, depression, or cavity formed in Earth, mainly by rain and snow, over ex-
the surface of the Earth by a surface or un- tended periods ranging from months to
derground explosion. Crater formation can years.
occur by vaporization of the surface materi-
al, by the scouring effect of air blast, by Fire Storm: Stationary mass fire, generally in
throwout of disturbed material, or by subsi- built-up urban areas, causing strong, inrush-
dence. In general, the major mechanism ing winds from all sides; the winds keep the
changes from one to the next with increasing fires from spreading while adding fresh oxy-
depth of burst. The apparent crater is the de- gen to increase their intensity.
pression which is seen after the burst; it is
Fission Products: A general term for the com-
smaller than the true crater (i. e., the cavity
plex mixture of substances produced as a re-
actually formed by the explosion), because
sult of nuclear fission. A distinction should
it is covered with a layer of loose earth, rock,
be made between these and the direct fis-
sion products or fission fragments that are
Dynamic Pressure: The air pressure that results formed by the actual splitting of the heavy-
from the mass air flow (or wind) behind the element nuclei. Something Iike 80 different
shock front of a blast wave. It is equal to the fission fragments result from roughly 40 dif-
product of half the density of the air through ferent modes of fission of a given nuclear
which the blast wave passes and the square species (e. g., uranium-235 or plutonium-239).
of the particle (or wind) velocity behind the The fission fragments, being radioactive, im-
shock front as it impinges on the object or mediately begin to decay, forming addition-
structure. al (daughter) products, with the result that
Electromagnetic Pulse: A sharp pulse of radio the complex mixture of fission products so
frequency (long wavelength) electromag- formed contains over 300 different isotopes
netic radiation produced when an explosion of 36 elements.
occurs in an unsymmetrical environment, es- Gamma Rays (or Radiations): Electromagnetic
pecially at or near the Earths surface or at radiations of high photon energy originating
high altitudes. The intense electric and mag- i n atomic nuclei and accon:panying many
netic fields can damage unprotected electri- nuclear reactions (e. g., fission, radioactivity,
cal and electronic equipment over a large and neutron capture). Physically, gamma
area. rays are identical with X-rays of high energy,
Fallout: The process or phenomenon of the de- the only essential difference being that X-
scent to the Earths surface of particles con- rays do not originate from atomic nuclei but
taminated with radioactive material from are produced in other ways (e. g., by slowing
the radioactive cloud. The term is also ap- down (fast) electrons of high energy).

750 The Effects of Nuclear War

Height of Burst (HOB): The height above the energy results from fission as A-bombs or
Earths surface at which a bomb is deto- atomic bombs. In order to make a distinc-
nated in the air. The optimum height of tion, those weapons in which part, at least,
burst for a particular target (or area) is that of the energy results from thermonuclear
at which it is estimated a weapon of a speci- (fusion) reactions of the isotopes of hydro-
fied energy yield will produce a certain de- gen have been called H-bombs or hydrogen
sired effect over the maximum possible bombs.
area. Overpressure: The transient pressure, usually
Kiloton Energy: Defined strictly as 1 0 calories expressed in pounds per square inch, ex-
(or 4.2 x 10 19 ergs). This is approximately the ceeding the ambient pressure, manifested in
amount of energy that wouId be released by the shock (or blast) wave from an explosion.
the explosion of 1 kiloton (kt) (1 ,000 tons) of The variation of the overpressure with time
TNT. depends on the energy yield of the explo-
Megaton Energy: Defined strictly as 10 cal-
15 sion, the distance from the point of burst,
ories (or 4.2 x 1022 ergs). This is approximate- and the medium in which the weapon is det-
ly the amount of energy that would be re- onated. The peak overpressure is the maxi-
leased by the explosion of 1,000 kt (1 million mum value of the overpressure at a given
tons) of TNT. location and is generally experienced at the
instant the shock (or blast) wave reaches
Neutron: A neutral particle (i. e., with no electri- that location.
cal charge) of approximately unit mass, pres-
Rad: A unit of absorbed dose of radiation; it
ent in all atomic nuclei, except those of ordi-
nary (light) hydrogen. Neutrons are required represents the absorption of 100 ergs of nu-
to initiate the fission process, and large num- clear (or ionizing) radiation per gram of ab-
bers of neutrons are produced by both fis- sorbing material, such as body tissue.
sion and fusion reactions in nuclear (or Rem: A unit of biological dose of radiation; the
atomic) explosions. name is derived from the initial letters of the
Nuclear Radiation: Particulate and electromag-
term roentgen equivalent man (or mam-
netic radiation emitted from atomic nuclei real). The number of reins of radiation is
in various nuclear processes. The important equal to the number of rads absorbed multi-
nucIear radiations, from the weapons stand- plied by the relative biological effectiveness
point, are alpha and beta particles, gamma
of the given radiation (for a specified effect).
rays, and neutrons. AlI nucIear radiations are The rem is also the unit of dose equivalent,
ionizing radiations, but the reverse is not which is equal to the product of the number
true. X-rays, f o r e x a m p l e , a r e i n c l u d e d of rads absorbed and the quality factor of
among ionizing radiations, but they are not the radiation.
nuclear radiations since they do not origi- Roentgen: A unit of exposure to gamma (or X)
nate from atom i c nucIei, radiation. It is defined precisely as the quan-
Nuclear Weapon (or Bomb): A general name tity of gamma (or X) rays that will produce
given to any weapon in which the explosion electrons (in ion pairs) with a total charge of
results from the energy released by reactions 2.58 X 10- 4 coulomb in 1 kilogram of dry air.
involvin g atomic nuclei, either fission or fu- An exposure of 1 roentgen results in the dep-
sion or both. Thus, the A- (or atomic) bomb osition of about 94 ergs of energy in 1 gram
and the H- (or hydrogen) bomb are both nu- of soft body tissue. Hence, an exposure of 1
clear weapons. It would be equally true to roentgen is approximately equivalent to an
call them atomic weapons, since it is the absorbed dose of 1 rad in soft tissue. See
energy of atomic nuclei that is involved in
each case However, it has become more-or- Thermal Radiation: Electromagneticradiation
Iess customary, although it is not strictly ac- emitted (in two pulses from an air burst)
curate, to refer to weapons in which all the from the fireball as a consequence of its
Appendix FGlossary 151

very high temperature; it consists essentialIy radiation Iies i n t h e v i s i b l e a n d i n f r a r e d

of ultraviolet, visible, and infrared radia- regions of the spectrum, For high-aItitude
tions. I n the early stages (first pulse of an air bursts (above 100,000 feet [30,480 meters]),
burst), burst), when the temperature of the fireball the thermal radiation is emitted as a single
is extremely high, the uItraviolet radiation pulse, which is of short durartion below
predominates; i n the second puIse, the tem- about 270,000 feet [82,296 meters] but in-
peratures are lower and most of the thermal creases at greater burst heights