What would happen if a 10 kiloton nuclear explosive were detonated in downtown Washington, DC at the intersection of 16th and K Streets NW?
That question is posed by a recent study (large pdf) performed for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It assesses the impact of a nuclear terrorism incident in the nation’s capital and seeks to derive the appropriate lessons for emergency response planning purposes.
It is clear that a nuclear detonation would “overwhelm response resources in the area.” On the other hand, “the existing Washington, DC structures offered better than adequate protection [for a] shelter-in-place strategy [that] would reduce the number of potential acute radiation casualties by 98%,” the study said.
See “National Capital Region: Key Response Planning Factors for the Aftermath of Nuclear Terrorism” by B.R. Buddemeier, et al, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, November 2011.