Soldier Combat Skills

Chapter 13-3 – Radiological Weapons

A radiological dispersal device (RDD) is a conventional bomb, not a yield producing nuclear device. An RDD disperses radioactive material to destroy, contaminate, and injure. An RDD can be almost any size.

TYPES

13-39. The types of radiological dispersal devices (RDDs) follow:

PASSIVE

13-40. A passive RDD is unshielded radioactive material dispersed or placed manually at the target.

EXPLOSIVE

13-41. The main employment of RDDs is explosives, which can cause serious injuries and property damage. An explosive RDD, often called “dirty bomb,” is any system that uses the explosive force of detonation to disperse radioactive material. A dirty bomb uses dynamite or other explosives to scatter radioactive dust, smoke, or other materials in order to cause radioactive contamination.

13-42. A simple explosive RDD, commonly called a pig, has a lead-shielded container with a kilogram of explosive attached. A pig can easily fit into a backpack. The radioactive materials in an RDD probably produces too little exposure to cause immediate serious illness, except to those who are very close to the blast site. However, radioactive dust and smoke, when spread farther away, could endanger health if inhaled. Terrorist use of RDDs could cause health, environmental, political, social, and economic effects. It could also cause fear, and could cost much money and time to clean up.

ATMOSPHERIC

13-43. An atmospheric RDD is any device that converts radioactive materials into a form that is easily transported by air currents.

DETECTION

13-44. Because you cannot see, smell, feel, or taste radiation, you may not know whether you have been exposed. Low levels of radiation exposure–like those expected from a dirty bomb–cause no symptoms. Higher levels may produce symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and swelling and redness of the skin.

DECONTAMINATION

13-45. Decontaminate and treat casualties the same as you would for exposure to nuclear radiation.

PROTECTION

13-46. Should you know when an incident occurs, take immediate steps to protect yourself:

OUTSIDE

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a cloth to reduce the risk of breathing in radioactive dust or smoke.
  • Don’t touch objects thrown off by an explosion as they might be radioactive.
  • Quickly go into a building where the walls and windows have not been broken. This area will shield you from radiation that might be outside.
  • Once you are inside, take off your outer layer of clothing and seal it in a plastic bag if available. Put the cloth you used to cover your mouth in the bag as well. Removing outer clothes may get rid of up to 90% of radioactive dust.
  • Shower or wash with soap and water. Be sure to wash your hair. Washing will remove any remaining dust.

INSIDE

  • If the walls and windows of the building are not broken, stay in the building and do not leave.
  • To keep radioactive dust or powder from getting inside, shut all windows and outside doors. Turn off fans and heating and air conditioning systems that bring in air from the outside. It is not necessary to put duct tape or plastic around doors or windows.
  • If the walls and windows of the building are broken, go to an interior room and do not leave. If the building has been heavily damaged, quickly go into a building where the walls and windows have not been broken. If you must go outside, be sure to cover your nose and mouth with a cloth. Once you are inside, take off your outer layer of clothing and seal it in a plastic bag if available. Store the bag where others will not touch it.
  • Shower or wash with soap and water, removing any remaining dust. Be sure to wash your hair.

IN A VEHICLE

  • Close the windows and turn off the air conditioner, heater, and vents.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a cloth to avoid breathing radioactive dust or smoke.
  • If you are close to a building, go there immediately and go inside quickly.
  • If you cannot get to another building safely, pull over to the side of the road and stop in the safest place possible. If it is a hot or sunny day, try to stop under a bridge or in a shady spot.
  • Turn off the engine.


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