Friday, October 14, 2005

Looking Back at ABC News and "Loose Nukes" with Dr. Andrew Karam (Part I)

As I've been cruising around the Web this morning, I've come across a boatload of reaction to last night's report on Primetime Live on university research reactors -- most of it rather negative. The first item I'd like to share comes from an e-mail exchange between a reporter and Dr Andrew Karam of the Rochester Institute of Technology. Dr. Karam had some interesting observations to say the least.

The note is rather lengthy, so I'll be breaking it up into a series of posts:

I was surprised to see the Committee to Bridge the Gap (a strident anti-nuclear group) presented as the "voice of reason" in opposition to the NRC. I was also surprised at the continued insistence that research reactors are "potential dirty bombs." I was also surprised to hear Graham Allison's suggestion of the amount of havoc that a bomb could cause - in my opinion, he overstated the risks from radioactive contamination. However, I also feel he overstated the risk of cancer from dirty bombs in his recent book, which I communicated to him via e-mail after reading the book last year (never did hear back from him...). Dr. Allison is very well-informed regarding the risks of an attack, but I feel he overestimates the risks of exposure to low levels of radiation. I would have liked to have seen a radiation safety professional to discuss the potential health risks, but I suspect this would not have advanced the aims of the show.
That's for sure. More later.

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1 comment:

Dean W. Armstrong said...

Thank you! This detailed criticism of the ABC alarmist report is much more rational than my own, which was really more an emotional response immediately after watching the report. One thing though: isn't the fuel in an active reactor going to be too radioactive and thermally hot to handle to steal? I could see a cold reactor being a possible target, but even then, aren't the rods full of medium-lifed radionuclides that would ruin any attempt at transport or bomb making?
Or do low-power reactors have different aspects than power reactors?