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Saving 100,000 Lives After a Nuclear Detonation

Fallout Preparedness Checklist Helps Cities Plan Wisely

SEPTEMBER 27, 2011—Washington, DC—The Center for Biosecurity of UPMC today released the Rad Resilient City Preparedness Checklist, a local planning tool that could help save 100,000 or more lives following a nuclear detonation.

The checklist converts the latest federal guidance and technical reports into 7 clear, actionable steps for communities to take to protect their residents from radioactive fallout. The workbook—available here—includes an implementation plan for cities and their neighbors, guidance for using buildings as shelters, a community preparedness education plan, and strategies for developing effective public messages that could save lives.

In last year’s nuclear summit, President Obama said that the prospect of nuclear terrorism is the “single biggest threat to U.S. security, in the short-term, medium-term, and long-term.”

Dr. Thomas Inglesby, Director of the Center for Biosecurity, said, “There is enough fissile material in the world to make more than 120,000 nuclear weapons. Terrorist groups have stated that they seek and have attempted to acquire nuclear weapons. It’s critical that the country do all that we can to secure fissile material, stop proliferation, and prevent nuclear terrorism. But we also need to have plans to save lives if these efforts fail…. Reducing exposure to fallout is the major intervention that can save the most lives following a nuclear detonation.”

Dr. Monica Schoch-Spana, director of the Rad Resilient City Initiative and chair of the Nuclear Resilience Expert Advisory Group, noted, “We do not have to be resigned to some pre-ordained number of deaths should the worst happen. We must . . . enable people to protect themselves following a nuclear detonation.”

“Quickly going inside and staying inside the closest, most solid building—not fleeing the area—saves lives,” she added. “People in communities that implement the checklist will be ready to act on this fact.”

Senators Bob Graham and Jim Talent, leaders of the Bipartisan WMD Terrorism Research Center and of the former Congressional Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism, endorsed the fallout preparedness checklist.

They declared, “In World at Risk, we expressly recommended the development of ‘a publicly available checklist of actions each level of government should take to prevent or ameliorate the consequences of WMD terrorism. Such a checklist could be used by citizens to hold their governments accountable for action or inaction.’ The Rad Resilient City Initiative has answered this call to action.”

The Rad Resilient City Checklist and implementation workbook are available at no cost at

The Rad Resilient City Preparedness Checklist was developed by the Nuclear Resilience Expert Advisory Group, a national panel led by the Center for Biosecurity of UPMC and composed of emergency professionals, government and scientific experts, and leaders from business, volunteer, and community sectors.


The Center for Biosecurity is an independent, nonprofit organization of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) whose mission is to strengthen national security by reducing the risks posed by biological attacks, epidemics, and other destabilizing events, and to improve the nation’s resilience in the face of such events.



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