An RDD combines a conventional explosive device — such as a bomb — with radioactive material. It is designed to scatter dangerous and sub-lethal amounts of radioactive material over a general area.
Such RDDs appeal to terrorists because they require limited technical knowledge to build and deploy compared to a nuclear device. The size of the affected area and the level of destruction caused by an RDD would depend on the sophistication and size of the conventional bomb and other factors. The area affected could be placed off-limits to the public for several months during cleanup efforts.
There is no way of knowing how much warning time there will be before an attack by terrorists using a Radiological Dispersion Device (RDD), so being prepared in advance and knowing what to do and when is important. To prepare for an RDD event, you should do the following:
Taking shelter during an RDD event is absolutely necessary. There are two kinds of shelters - blast and fallout. The following describes the two kinds of shelters:
While the explosive blast will be immediately obvious, the presence of radiation will not be known until trained personnel with specialized equipment are on the scene.
If the explosion or radiological release occurs inside, get out immediately and seek safe shelter. Otherwise, if you are:
After finding safe shelter, those who may have been exposed to radioactive material should decontaminate themselves. To do this, remove and bag your clothing (and isolate the bag away from you and others), and shower thoroughly with soap and water. Seek medical attention after officials indicate it is safe to leave shelter.
Contamination from an RDD event could affect a wide area, depending on the amount of conventional explosives used, the quantity and type of radioactive material released, and meteorological conditions.
Follow these additional guidelines after an RDD event: