Nuke Blast Wouldn't Destroy DC, But...
...it would kill at least 45K, study finds
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 27, 2012 6:54 AM CDT
This Tuesday, July 3, 2007 picture shows the skyline of Washington, DC, including the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and the US Capitol.   (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)

(Newser) – This is good news, we guess: The US government has determined that, should terrorists blow up a 10-kiloton nuclear device just north of the White House, it would not destroy Washington, DC. Of course, the study found that the blast would devastate the area, crumbling buildings and killing most everyone in a half-mile radius. But it wouldn't be "the end of the world," says the founding director of the Institute for Homeland Security. "It's not a Cold War scenario." Outside the blast zone, which would stretch from the White House's south lawn to FBI headquarters in this case, the explosion would be pretty survivable, the FEMA study found.

The US Capitol, Supreme Court, Pentagon, and various monuments and memorials would only suffer "light damage," with people in those areas experiencing mostly minor injuries. But, due to radiation, the blast area would be a "no-go zone" for days. Ultimately, the study predicted more than 45,000 deaths and another 323,000 injuries. How strong is a 10-kiloton nuclear explosion? About 5,000 times more powerful than the truck bomb used in Oklahoma City in 1995. Click for the full scenario, including suggestions for hypothetical survivors—who should not get in their cars and try to flee.