US healthcare system unprepared for major nuclear emergency

Pro Publica, April 8, 2011
U.S. officials say the nation's health system is ill-prepared to cope with a catastrophic release of radiation, despite years of focus on the possibility of a terrorist "dirty bomb" or an improvised nuclear device attack. A blunt assessment circulating among American officials says "Current capabilities can only handle a few radiation injuries at any one time." That assessment, prepared by the Department of Homeland Security in 2010 and stamped "for official use only," says "there is no strategy for notifying the public in real time of recommendations on shelter or evacuation priorities." The Homeland Security report, plus several other reports and interviews with almost two dozen experts inside and outside the government, reveal other gaps that may increase the risks posed by a nuclear accident or terrorist attack.

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