Nuclear Terrorism Expert Answers Viewers' Questions

Question 9. Bill asks: What cities appear to be prime targets and why? Is it population density, military communities nearby, financial districts, proximity to international borders or the shock effect of hitting a major population center? Or could it be a combination of all of these that might make a city an attractive target to terrorists?

Answer: Based on their actions and statements, we can assume that al Qaeda would want to attack cities that have high-density populations, vulnerable financial centers, and symbolic targets. Communities that al Qaeda operatives have discussed targeting with terrorist attacks include: New York City, New Jersey financial areas, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and San Francisco, among others.

Question 10. Mahala asks: If I have to shelter in my basement during a nuclear attack, what is the best way to prepare this space? I am concerned about clean air and keeping radiation at as minimum a level as possible. Short of building a bomb shelter, what can I do?

Answer: See my answer to question four.

Question 11. Sandra asks: Why hasn't the nuclear waste been moved to safer locations, like Yucca Mountain? Yucca isn't perfect, but it's a lot better than tents and glorified swimming pools where most of the waste is now. Yucca's more defensible, and it's safer from floods and fires (ask Los Alamos about the plutonium that got loose after the last big fire!) than most of the current storage sites. Will it take a disaster to move the nuclear waste to safer repositories?

Answer: Finding a permanent and secure resting place for spent nuclear fuel would go a long way to safeguarding communities surrounding nuclear reactors, and deny terrorists the radioactive materials from which to make a dirty bomb.

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