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Old Civil Defense Shelters

by Walton McCarthy, Principle Engineer, NORAD Shelter Systems LLC® and author of Principles of Protection: US Handbook of NBC Weapon Fundamentals and Shelter Engineering Design Standards

Old Civil Defense Shelters Don’t Work to Protect from Nuclear War, but Modern Rated Underground Shelters Do

1962 U.S. Civil Defense Blast Shelter

The U.S. Department of Defense Office of Civil Defense proposed some uncomfortable and lethal nuclear shelter designs.

2017 NORAD Shelter Systems LLC® Blast Shelter

Old American civil defense shelters were not very useful, but modern shelter technology can protect thousands from nuclear blast and fallout, and provide life support for months in the aftermath of a nuclear detonation. The educated shelterists know that after 30 days, the fallout has decayed to safe levels.[i] The United States has had 214 above ground nuclear bomb tests since 1945[ii]. Yet we are all still here.

The civil defense shelter designs claimed to have a PF of 100 actually probably had a protection factor closer to 50 the shelter entranceways were unprotected. A PF of 50 with a 13,000 rem dose outside would expose the shelterist to 260 rems which is a 50% lethal radiation dose if medical help is available. Without medical help that dose is 100% lethal.

The Serious Flaws in the 1960s Civil Defense Shelters

Customers often ask me if it’s safe to use old civil defense shelters. The answer is a flat out NO! Most of these old civil defense FAMILY SHELTER DESIGNS[1] shelters were designed to be used by people who were willing to live like cavemen, and for use 100 miles or more away from ground zero of a small kiloton nuclear weapon. These shelters were very poorly designed. With only 24 to 32 inches of earth over the ceiling, using sand bags for radiation shielding, and with no entranceway radiation shielding, the public civil defense shelters did not protect occupants from radiation unless the shelter was more than 100 miles away from ground zero.

Family Shelter Designs Booklet Cover

If Family Shelter models PSD-F61-1 through PSD F61-5 were located 25 miles away or closer from a 100 KT surface burst, shelterists would have received radiation doses inside the so-called fallout shelters resulting in radiation sickness for 50% of the shelterists. These designs completely ignored that most of a nuclear bomb’s radiation comes in through the shelter entranceway. The Family Shelter Designs shelter entranceways let in sickly to lethal amounts of radiation. The protection factor stated in these manuals was only for overhead values and did not address or even consider radiation coming in through the entranceway.

January 1962 Life Magazine giving out free engineering advice.
January 1962 Life Magazine giving out free engineering advice.
NORAD fully-rated S16x40 blast shelter interior.
NORAD fully-rated S16x40 blast shelter interior.
Clockwise: NORAD S16x24 blast shelter bunk beds, generator room hatch, shower, bathroom, pantry, kitchen, table.
Clockwise: NORAD S16x24 blast shelter bunk beds, generator room hatch, shower, bathroom, pantry, kitchen, table.

Ten Times Ten is Four

The nuclear weapons today are 10 to 100 times larger than the ones of the 1950’s. However, a physical law needs to be understood. When a nuclear weapon increases in size by a factor of 10, the danger radius increases by only a factor of two, not ten. Many misinformed people have projected damage and death rates based on nuclear weapons that are 100 times larger than the one used at Hiroshima, but a bomb 100 times larger cannot produce 100 times the damage or 100 times the deaths, because the danger radius is only 4 times larger, not 100 times larger. The truth is bad enough, there is no need to exaggerate it

Air burst and surface burst cast radiation on the shelter entranceway

Civil Defense Shelter Radiation Poisoning

Radiation doses are measured in rems (Roentgen Equivalent Mammal). A relatively safe acute radiation dose within a 24 hour period is between 0 to 25 rems. Radiation sickness will occur at exposures starting at 60 rems. A 50% lethal radiation dose is between 200 and 450 rems. Half the people exposed to 200 to 450 rems will die of radiation poisoning if medical help is available.[iii] All will die if medical help is not available.

The civil defense shelter designs claimed to have a PF of 100 actually probably had a protection factor closer to
The civil defense shelter designs claimed to have a PF of 100 actually probably had a protection factor closer to 50 the shelter entranceways were unprotected. A PF of 50 with a 13,000 rem dose outside would expose the shelterist to 260 rems which is a 50% lethal radiation dose if medical help is available. Without medical help that dose is 100% lethal.

Earth Cover Provides Radiation Protection

Underground nuclear shelters without proper overhead earth cover cannot protect shelterists from gamma radiation. Sandbags stacked on top of each other is not the same radiation shielding as using solid earth. When sandbags are stacked on top of each other even when cross stacked, there are significant gaps between them large enough to let air through and some radiation comes through also. I built eleven of these in 1974 and 1975 and even after wetting the sandbags with water, the gaps between the bags did not close.

Blast shelters should be strong enough to hold 71 to 72 in. of overhead earth.
Blast shelters should be strong enough to hold 71 to 72 in. of overhead earth.

Ideally a nuclear shelter is under 71 inches of earth cover. View earth cover table at the Principles of Protectionwebsite.

Protection Factor from Earth Cover

The Protection Factor is the fraction of radiation received on the shielded side of the radiation barrier. A Protection Factor or PF of 100 would reduce or attenuate the radiation to 100th of the outside dose. The Department of Defense and Office of Civil Defense use the 1/10th value layer thickness method where 16 inches of earth provides a PF of 10 and 32 inches of earth provide a gamma PF of 100.[iv]

Ideally a nuclear shelter is under 71 inches of earth cover. View earth cover table at the Principles of Protectionwebsite.

Shelters with 61 inches of earth overhead have a PF of 2,048. Along with good entranceway geometry shielding a 61 inch overhead earth shelter can be as close as 0.9 miles from a 100 KT surface burst and allow not more than 25 rems inside the shelter over the 30 day duration known as “the fallout period.” NORAD shelters have a gamma (fallout) protection factor of 8,192 and therefore allow only 1.6 rems to enter the shelter from overhead with a 13,000 gamma rem dose outside.

S16x40 bomb shelter kitchen, sofa, bathroom and beds
Modern blast shelters are safe as well as comfortable.

Earth Cover Protection Requirements

A nuclear bomb blast radiation dose table can be found at PrinciplesofProtection.net. The details of the earth cover a shelter must have to protect occupants from radiation poisoning for “Gamma and Neutron Radiation Doses in rems inside a Shelter Based on Earth Cover 100 KT Surface Burst” is re-printed from PRINCIPLES OF PROTECTION, The US Handbook of NBC Weapon Fundamentals and Shelter Engineering Design.

Civil Defense Design F-61-4-2

Civil Defense Actual Protection: Lethal

According to this reference based on the DELFIC Radiation Fallout Model from actual nuclear weapons tests, a 100 KT nuclear surface burst will produce 0 psi overpressure, 0 initial gamma radiation rems, 3,800 fallout gamma rems and 0 neutron rems at 25 miles from ground zero.[v]

Old civil defense fallout shelters had about 27-32 inches of earth cover and they are supposed to have had a Protection Factor of 100[vi], exposing the shelter occupants to 38 rems inside the shelter. This is just the radiation from overhead. The radiation dose entering the shelter from the entranceway of these shelters would be about the same dose as overhead[vii] so the total radiation dose even at 25 miles away would be 76 rems resulting in radiation sickness for 50% of the shelterists. This is assuming that there is really a PF of 100. The civil defense family shelters of the 1960’s were designed for people who were willing to live like cavemen. Many do not even allow a person to stand up, do not work, and few people would comfortable living even for a few minutes in this type of protection.

Old Civil Defense Radiation “Protection” in Relation to Current Protection Standards
Earth Cover 32 inches
Weapon Size 100 KT
Burst Type Surface
Miles from GZ 25
psi Overpressure 0
Initial Gamma Radiation rems 0
Fallout gamma rems 3,800
Neutron rems 0
Stated Protection Factor 100
Implied Exposure rems 38
Entranceway Exposure rems unstated
Entranceway Actual Exposure rems 38
Actual Exposure rems 76
Air Dose Inhaled
Shelter Duration Required 30 Days
Actual Shelter Duration A few hours to a day

Civil Defense Air Filtration: Lethal

Another problem is that these old shelters had no air filtration system so shelterists would receive an additional dose coming into the shelter by breathing unfiltered air which is the worst type of radioactive contamination.

Civil Defense Shelter Life Support: Non-Existent

Finally these shelters were never designed for the 30 day duration which is the time it takes for the radiation level to decay to normal. After 30 days, 99% of the total or lifetime radiation dose will have decayed[viii]. For this reason, 30 days has been established as the required shelter duration time for a nuclear weapon. None of the old civil defense shelters have any type of life support system to allow people to survive off-grid for 30 days. The goal of a fallout shelter is to reduce the level inside the shelter to a level less than 25 total rems from all sources during the first 30 days and to provide life support for 30 days. There is not enough room in these civil defense shelters for a 30 day water and food supply. People need 30 days of food, water, toilet paper, and light as well as a decent toilet.

Modern Shelter “Total Rems in Shelter”

These old shelters meet absolutely none of the modern day standards. A good modern underground shelter will not allow more than 5 rems inside the shelter from all sources, and not allow more than 25 total rems in the first 30 days. The Total Rems in Shelter (TRS) of zero is possible but would be very expensive and not a worthwhile goal.

Blast and Radiation Protection Required

An underground shelter with 48 inches of earth and 12 inches of concrete would allow 5 rems to enter the shelter from overhead in the 10 psi range from a 100 KT Surface Burst. Most of the shelters on the market today have no geometry entranceway shielding and allow and additional 25-50 rems to enter the shelter through the entranceway. While these new shelters are still a tremendous improvement from the old civil defense shelters, beware of any shelter manufacturer than claims that their shelters allow no radiation to enter the shelter. One should always ask “What is the design radiation dose for the shelter for Overhead Radiation and Entranceway Radiation?” and what is the source of their claims.

Modern Nuclear Shelter Standards

Because scientists can’t predict the weapon package for a specific target, protection values are stated for both a 500 KT air burst and a 100 KT surface burst at a the10 psi over pressure distance. Radiation doses and pressure ratings are inseparable and must be stated together. At 10 psi for a given size weapon there will be a certain radiation dose. See weapons effects tables to see the progression of radiation exposure based on earth cover and distance from ground zero.

NORAD Shelters “Design Radiation Dose”

The design radiation dose for overhead shielding for NORAD Shelters is based on a 100 KT surface burst producing 1,200 rems Initial Gamma, 9,554 rems of fallout gamma radiation, and 4,000 rems of neutron radiation. The Design Radiation Dose for the Entranceway is based on 3,250 rems of initial gamma, 12,000 rems for gamma, and 9000 rems of neutron, based on the standard 500 KT Air Burst. This is the radiation dose the shelter is designed for based on POP. Under these weapon effects, the NORAD Shelters will not allow more than 4 rems to enter the shelter from all sources.

Sagan’s Nuclear Winter Myth Debunked

According to the “ANNOUNCED U.S. ABOVE GROUND NUCLEAR WEAPONS TESTS PRIOR TO THE 1963 NUCLEAR TEST BAN TREATY” US Department of Energy NVO-209-Rev. 2, there were 74 nuclear weapons tested above ground in the Nevada test site and of these, 29 were larger than the 13 KT nuclear weapon used on Hiroshima. After 74 nuclear explosions in the U.S., we are all still here. The truth about nuclear weapons is bad enough, it does not have to be exaggerated.

Nuclear war is survivable. 29 bombs larger than Hiroshima were tested in the United States above ground prior to the nuclear test ban of 1963 and no nuclear winter appeared. It’s about time we learned to protect ourselves.

Carl Sagan created the myth of nuclear winter. It demoralized the U.S. from defending itself from a winnable war. Eventually Sagan admitted that nuclear winter could not happen, but by then the U.S. was traumatized by unscientific documentaries proving that nuclear war defense was hopeless.

Our enemies don’t need to use propaganda to demoralize us. While a core group of educated citizens know that the nuclear fallout danger period is only 30 days long, many believe that nuclear war is the equivalent to the end of the world. Just stay underground in a well-designed, properly installed shelter with Nuclear, Biological, Chemical and EMP protection measures, just for 30 days to wait for the fallout radiation level to decay. But Americans believed the documentaries based on faulty science. We abandoned our civil defense shelter program when properly designed and equipped modern shelter technology could save millions of lives. Our enemies couldn’t have created a more demoralizing propaganda campaign.

The modern underground shelter is EMP shielded and designed to survive a minimum 90 day duration off-grid which is the time period where most of the population will die out from lack of water, food, exposure, or medical supplies in the aftermath of a nuclear weapon detonation or EMP event. If we lose 80% of the population, it brings us back to the population of 1900[ix], which is not the end of the world. During this first 90 days, people will be desperate and shelterists should remain in the shelter during this time period. After this first 90 days, shelterists will be going in and out of the shelter for perhaps one to two years as the country rebuilds.

Nuclear Winter

Sagan’s nuclear analysis group called themselves TTAPS: “Turco, Toon, Ackerman, Pollack, and Sagan.” In 1983 TTAPS analyzed the consequences of a full scale nuclear war. This report was the first in defining the theory of Nuclear Winter. It was scientifically later recognized in 1986 that the TTAPS report and its conclusion of Nuclear Winter had serious scientific flaws and was therefore never considered to be scientifically valid[x]. The TTAPS report was based on a single dimension model which neglected some rather serious aspects. The TTAPS report did not take into account the seasons, wind to dissipate the smoke, geography, or washout from rain. It assumed the spread of smoke to be instantaneous. It was based on a starting temperature 20oF below the average seasonal temperature, and finally, it did not account for the temperature moderating effects of the mass of the oceans which cover most of the planet surface.

Authors Cautioned Model Was Weak

It was not surprising that the authors of the TTAPS model cautioned that the model had significant weaknesses which would have to be addressed before the model was to be treated as conclusive for any war scenario. The current scientific analysis from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) indicates a temporary weather change similar to a Nuclear Fall. It also states “A major conclusion of the current work on the vulnerability of human and natural systems is that the mechanism most likely to lead to the greatest consequences to humans from a nuclear war is not the blast wave, not the thermal pulse, not direct radiation, or even fallout; rather it is mass starvation.[xi] The NCAR report was considered conclusive and no further research was warranted.

Radiation Doses and Cancer Rates

What about Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Weren’t those cities destroyed? The people at Hiroshima and Nagasaki who were exposed to the most severe weapon effects such as thermal burns, blast, and massive doses of radiation and who were malnourished still have a lower cancer rate than smokers in the United States[xii]. Adequate shelter will prevent shelterists from receiving more than 25 rems for the first 30 days, which will allow people to survive in good physical and mental health with no risk of contracting cancer above the present rates. More than half a century after the atomic bombing, the survivors, called hibakusha in Japanese, are becoming quite elderly. Their average age as of March 2010, is over 76.73 years old.[xiii]

Walton McCarthy M.E.

Today’s underground shelters are based onPrinciples of Protection, The US Handbook of NBC Weapon Fundamentals and Shelter Engineering Design Standards, Walton McCarthy M.E. Brown Books, 6th edition, 2013. (PrinciplesofProtection. net).

McCarthy’s book was written with a committee of experts from the US Department of Energy, US Department of Defense, Strategic Applications International, Nuclear Engineering Laboratory from the University of Illinois, Oak Ridge National Laboratories, Chemical Division of Edgewood Arsenal, Brookhaven National Laboratory, US Defense Nuclear Agency and the US National Bureau of Standards. It is available on Amazon and has been used by architects and engineers around the world since 1991. There are numerous other standards listed in the book for buoyancy, seismic joints, shelter duration, air manifolds, and many more. The website for the book has Nuclear Weapon Effects Tables based on actual nuclear tests, Radiation Shielding tables and a really cool Entranceway Radiation Calculator so people can determine how much radiation can be expected to enter their shelter through the entranceway.

Endnotes

[i] These values were developed by Dr. Joseph McGahan of the Scientific Applications International Corporation. These values are not theoretical. They were derived from the DELFIC model, which is based on actual radioactivity measurements made on site of the nuclear surface burst tests conducted in the United States prior to the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1964. This reference is from page 670 Appendix A in Principles of Protection, The US Handbook of NBC Weapon Fundamentals and Shelter Engineering Design Standards, 2013, 6th Edition, Brown Books.

[ii] ANNOUNCED US ABOVE GROUND NUCLEAR WEAPONS TESTS PRIOR TO 1963 NUCLEAR TEST BAN TREATY, US Department of Energy, NVO-209 rev. 2. This reference is from page 2 of Principles of Protection, The US Handbook of NBC Weapon Fundamentals and Shelter Engineering Design Standards, 2013, 6th Edition, Brown Books.

[iii] NUCLEAR ATTACK PLANNING BASE 1990,Federal Emergency Management Agency, Final Project Report (NAPB-90).

[iv] THE EFFECTS OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS, Department of Defense and Energy Research and Development Administration, 1977, 3rd edition. Table 8.41 page 337.

[v] These values were developed by Dr. Joseph McGahan of the Scientific Applications International Corporation. These values are not theoretical. They were derived from the DELFIC model, which is based on actual radioactivity measurements made on site of the nuclear surface burst tests conducted in the United States prior to the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1964. This reference is from page 670 Appendix A in Principles of Protection, The US Handbook of NBC Weapon Fundamentals and Shelter Engineering Design Standards, 2013, 6th Edition, Brown Books.

[vi] FAMILY SHELTER DESIGNS, H-7 DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, OFFICE OF CIVIL DEFENSE, January 1962, designs PSD F-61-1 through PSD F-61-8, page 5.

[vii] See appendix D of Principles of Protection, The US Handbook of NBC Weapon Fundamentals and Shelter Engineering Design Standards, 2013, 6th Edition, Brown Books. This formula was developed specifically for personal blast shelters by Dr. Arthur B. Chilton. In developing this formula, he used the following books as references. Numbers were rounded using normal rounding procedures.

Diaz, J. and A.B. Chilton, MODELING RELATIONSHIPS for RADIATION TRANSPORT within DUCTS and OTHER CAVITIES in SHIELDS, Nucl. Sci., and Eng. 35,283, 1969.

Jaeger, R.G. ed., ENGINEERING COMPENDIUM on RADIATION SHIELDING FUNDAMENTALS and METHODS, New York, Springer- Verlag, 1968.

Kimel, H.R.ed., RADIATION SHIELDING ANALYSIS and DESIGN PRINCIPLES as APPLIED to NUCLEAR DEFENSE PLANNING, TR- 40, OCD/KSU, Report Supt. of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1966.

Maeker,R.E. and F.J. Muckenthaler, NEUTRON FLUXES in CONCRETE DUCTS ARISING from INCIDENT EPICADMIUM NEUTRONS: CALCULATIONS and EXPERIMENTS, Nucl. Sci., and Eng. 35,283, 1969.

NEWMARK, N.M., DESIGN of OPENINGS for BURIED SHELTERS, Contract Report 2-67, U.S. Army Engineer Waterways Experiment Station, July 1963.

Ritchie, R.H. and G.S. Hurst, “Penetration of Weapons Radiation: Application to the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Studies.”, HEALTH PHYSICS 1,390, 1959.

STRUCTURES SHIELDING against FALLOUT GAMMA RAYS from NUCLEAR DETONATIONS, NBC SPECIAL PUBLICATION 570, Washington, D.C., U.S. Government Printing Office, 1980.

U.S. Department of Defense and Energy Research and Development Administration. EFFECTS of NUCLEAR WEAPONS. Compiled by Samuel Glasstone and P.J. Dolan. Washington, D.C., 1977.

U.S. Department of Defense: Office of Civil Defense, SHELTER DESIGN and ANALYSIS-FALLOUT RADIATION SHIELDING, TR-20. Vol. 1 as amended, Washington, D.C., July 1967.

[viii] These values were developed by Dr. Joseph McGahan of the Scientific Applications International Corporation. These values are not theoretical. They were derived from the DELFIC model, which is based on actual radioactivity measurements made on site of the nuclear surface burst tests conducted in the United States prior to the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1964. This reference is from page 670 Appendix A in Principles of Protection, The US Handbook of NBC Weapon Fundamentals and Shelter Engineering Design Standards, 2013, 6th Edition, Brown Books.

[ix] US Census for 2014 at 319 million and US Census for 1900 at 76 million people.

[x] Thompson Starley L., NUCLEAR WINTER REAPPRAISED, Foreign Affairs Volume 64, No. 5, Council on Foreign Relations, p. 993.

[xi] SCOPE 28 ENVIRONMENTAL CONSEQUENCES OF NUCLEAR WAR, Volume II, Ecological and Agricultural Effects, Mark A Harwell and Thomas C. Hutchinson, 1985, John Wiley and Sons, page xxxiv.
[xii] Committee for the Compilation of Materials on Damage Caused by the Atomic Bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, HIROSHIMA and NAGASAKI, New York: Basic Books Inc., 1979, p.268. Average over all age groups is approximately 50 cases/100,00 of leukemia. American Cancer Society, CANCER FACTS and FIGURES, New York, 1987, p. 13. Smoker cancer rate of 68 per 100,000.
[xiii] Sakiko Masuda, Hiroshima Peace Media Center, based on Japan Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare based on A-bomb survivors who hold A-Bomb Survivor Certificates.

Sandbags are useless against radiation

12 UNDERGROUND SHELTER DECEPTIONS THAT CAN GET YOU KILLED

By Walton McCarthy M.E.

Underground shelter buyers need to understand the life saving components they are buying. There are no federal agencies or consumer organizations protecting shelter buyers from deceptive product claims. Knowing how the life saving components work gives you the power to know if your purchase will save your life — or not.

You can’t know the radiation danger inside the shelter without knowing the radiation level outside of the shelter — see Deception #8

 

UNDERGROUND SHELTER DECEPTION NO. 1 – “OUR SHELTER IS FEMA CERTIFIED”

FEMA does not certify or approve underground shelters. FEMA publishes tornado shelter guidelines. They do not publish or suggest any Nuclear-Biological-Chemical (NBC) warfare shelter guidelines or standards. A shelter manufacturer may claim that its shelter meets or even exceeds FEMA tornado shelter guidelines. But there are no FEMA NBC shelter guidelines, and there are no FEMA shelter certifications or approvals since FEMA is not a certifying agency. Underground shelter manufacturers can claim anything with no data to support their deceptive protection claims and that is exactly what is happening. Shelter manufacturers are unchecked.

DECEPTION NO. 2 – “OUR SHELTER HAS COMPLETE NBC AIR FILTRATION”

Virtually all of the underground shelter manufacturers use unrated air filtration united to keep their shelter prices down. The problem is, these air filtration units don’t work! NBC filtration relies on TEDA carbon, which is extremely expensive. Cheap air filters contain only a small percentage of TEDA carbon in amounts that will not make NBC environment air safe to breathe.

Residence time” is how long the dangerous airborne agent stays in contact with the filter media. To filter NBC air, filtration units must use 100% ASZM TEDA carbon with a minimum 0.25 seconds residence time. Always check the air filter manufacturer specifications for ASZM TEDA carbon percentage and residence time.

Activated carbon with anything less than 100% of ASZM TEDA has a residence time of 0.0 seconds and will not make the air safe for people to breathe in a chemical warfare environment. A properly rated NBC air filtration unit for an underground shelter supplying 100 cubic feet per minute sells for approximately $10,000 to $14,000 because it uses 100% TEDA carbon and in the right volume to allow complete filtering of all chemical warfare agents. TEDA carbon for a 100 cfm NBC unit sells retail for just over $4,000. Most of the so called NBC air filtration units on the market are selling the entire NBC filtration unit for $2,500 because they do not have enough TEDA carbon or residence time to filter chemical agents but make the buyer feel good. A dummy NBC filter makes the shelter a coffin in NBC environments. The right equipment is just more expensive.

DECEPTION NO. 3- “OUR SHELTER HAS BIOLOGICAL AIR FILTRATION”

Many of the NBC air filtration units sold with underground shelters have a HEPA filter efficiency of 99.97% which is not good enough to remove or capture biological agents. The efficiency must be 99.99% @ 0.3 microns to completely filter or capture biological agents carried on dust or aerosol particles. This filter is more expensive and requires a more powerful more — and therefore more expensive — air blower.

DECEPTION NO. 4- “WE DO NOT NEED AN AIR FILTRATION PRESSURE GAUGE”

Few of the NBC air filtration units have a pressure gauge to tell the shelterists when to change the filter and ALL shelters in the fallout area will have to at least change the pre-filter after the first 24 hours and discard it outside of the shelter. If the filter is not changed, the filter element itself will emit strong radiation doses inside the shelter.

DECEPTION NO. 5- “NBC FILTERS DON’T NEED TO BE CHANGED”

A proper NBC air filtration unit has a bag-in/bag-out system to allow replacing the pre-filter, carbon filter, and HEPA filter without coming into contact with it. It will have to be changed to prevent radiation doses inside the shelter.

DECEPTION NO. 6- “FALLOUT SHELTER RATINGS”

A fallout shelter typically is not designed for any overpressure.  so it has an overpressure rating of 0 psi.  For a 100 KT surface burst weapon, the overpressure drops to 0 psi at just over 2 miles from ground zero. At this distance there would be approximately 8,500 rems of gamma radiation from fallout on the ground surface.  At 100 miles away, the overpressure is still 0 psi but there is virtually no radiation from fallout.  The problem is that a fallout shelter can claim to allow no radiation to enter the shelter because the shelter was designed for 0 psi at 100 miles away where there is no radiation outside of the shelter on the ground. Every person who is considering purchasing or building an underground shelter must determine how much radiation enters the shelter at what distance from ground zero from a given size weapon. This is the very first step in designing any shelter to shield people from radiation.  (See Weapon Effects Table)

DECEPTION NO. 7- “THERE IS NO RADIATION IN OUR SHELTERS”

Almost all the companies selling underground shelters do not state how much radiation enters their underground shelter from overhead or from the entranceway and air ducts. The uninformed buyer purchases a shelter assuming that very little or no radiation enters the shelter because the manufacturer does not state any performance data for their shelter. Most underground shelters on the market allow a sickening or sometimes a lethal radiation dose to enter the shelter even when 4 miles away from ground zero from a small kiloton terrorist size weapon. Because the manufacturer does not state what the pressure rating the shelter is designed for, which dictates the distance from ground zero and the radiation level outside at that distance, the customer cannot claim deception by the manufacturer because the shelter manufacturer did not state any performance data. Therefore the buyer has little recourse against the shelter manufacturer. However, the manufacturer was in a position to know and should know the radiation doses inside the shelter, otherwise its underground shelter is not fit for NBC protection.

DECEPTION NO. 8 – “WE DON’T NEED TO KNOW THE OUTSIDE RADIATION LEVELS”

You can’t know the radiation danger inside the shelter without knowing the radiation level outside of the shelter. The first step in designing an NBC underground shelter is to establish a pressure rating and distance of the shelter from ground zero for a given size nuclear weapon. At this location, gamma and neutron radiation doses are well established from actual nuclear weapon testing for both air and surface burst nuclear weapons.[i]

This Radiation Design Dose is the dose of gamma and neutron radiation that the shelter is designed to resist. There is an Overhead Radiation Design Dose and an Entranceway Radiation Design Dose. Educated buyers should ask for both values. Based on these design doses, the shelter manufacturer should be able to state what radiation doses shelterists can expect inside the shelter at the design pressure or distance from ground zero for a given size weapon.

The old Protection Factor system used for fallout shelters does not account for radiation entering the shelter from the air ducts or entranceways, only from overhead. Most of the radiation entering an underground shelter is through the entranceway.

DECEPTION NO. 9 – “WE HAVE GREAT RADIATION SHIELDING”

The second step is to determine what depth of overhead shielding, usually earth, will reduce the outside radiation levels to safe levels inside the shelter. A shelter located 1 mile from ground zero from a 100 KT nuclear weapon will be exposed to approximately 10 psi. This same shelter with 4 ft of earth and 1 ft. of concrete overhead will expose shelterists to 6 rems from overhead in the first 30 days which is more than 99% of the total dose possible.[ii] This is an acceptable dose if this were the only source of radiation. Most shelters on the market will allow more than 50 rems to enter the shelter from the entranceway. Add this to the radiation entering the shelter from air ducts and from overhead and shelterists will experience radiation sickness requiring medical attention which will probably not be available. Therefore a dose that causes sickness may result in death if no medical help is available.

DECEPTION NO. 10- “OUR SHIPPING CONTAINERS PROVIDE A GREAT UNDERGROUND NBC SHELTER”

Assuming it is not damaged or corroded, the common shipping container can only support one foot of overhead earth. But even with 6 ft. of earth overhead, a shipping container door end used to enter the shelter allows in lethal radiation doses. Unless steel is 1.1 inches thick, it provides no radiation shielding. But it is a really cheap structure! The layperson consumer never asks “how much protection” does the shelter offer and from what? Virtually all shelter manufacturers cannot answer this question which is in fact their business.

DECEPTION NO. 11- “WE HAVE A GREAT WARRANTY”

Defects in material and workmanship warranties don’t cover shelter collapse due to poor engineering or corrosion. Corrosion is a natural process, and therefore not a defect. A “defects” warranty shelter could collapse and kill its occupants, and the manufacturer could claim that corrosion is natural process, and is not covered under the warranty. An underground shelter warranty for life against Defects In Material and Workmanship is not a warranty.

DECEPTION NO. 12 – “WE MAKE THE BEST UNDERGROUND SHELTERS”

Underground Shelter Manufacturers all claim to have the best shelter but no data to support what makes it the best. The best shelter has a published Radiation Design Dose Overhead, a published Radiation Design Dose for the Entranceway and Air Ducts, a published Protection Factor Rating that is high, a published Total Rems in Shelter that is below 25 rems, an air filtration system with published data showing 100% TEDA at the right residence time, a Bag in Bag Out filter change, a published Shelter Pressure Rating, and a published real structural warranty for a given period of time. A shelter with real protection costs more because it contains the quality components required to save your life.

MODERN SHELTER ENGINEERING STANDARDS

There has only been one book in the past 40 years to address a set of standards for underground shelters. It was written by Walton McCarthy with help of a committee of government, university and industry experts and has been on the market for 20 years. Principles of Protection: The U.S. Handbook of NBC Weapon Fundamentals and Shelter Engineering Design Standards, 6th edition, 2013, Brown Books, defines scores of engineering standards for proper shelter design protection from nuclear blast, radiation, biochemical threats and EMP.

 

The nuclear shelter engineering book’s committee included experts from the US Department of Energy, US Department of Defense, Strategic Applications International, Nuclear Engineering Laboratory from the University of Illinois, Oak Ridge National Laboratories, Chemical Division of Edgewood Arsenal, Brookhaven National Laboratory, US Defense Nuclear Agency and the US National Bureau of Standards.

Principles of Protection is available on Amazon.com. Mr. McCarthy has designed, engineered, manufactured and installed more than 1,400 shelters since 1977. More details on Walton McCarthy can be found on Wikipedia.org. Mr. McCarthy is presently the principle engineer for NORAD Shelter Systems LLC.

Phone: (972) 913-6882

Email: sales@noradshelters.com

Website: www.noradshelters.com

 

Contact:

Darik McCarthy, Sales Engineer

NORAD Shelter Systems LLC®

675 Town Square Blvd

Garland, Texas 75040 U.S.

[i] PRINCIPLES OF PROTECTION, The US Handbook of NBC Weapon Fundamentals and Shelter Engineering Design Standards, 6th edition, 2013, Walton W. McCarthy M.E. Brown books. Appendix A

[ii] PRINCIPLES OF PROTECTION, The US Handbook of NBC Weapon Fundamentals and Shelter Engineering Design Standards, 6th edition, 2013, Walton W. McCarthy M.E. Brown books. Figure 13-1 p. 420 and Figure 13-4 p. 424

Johnnie St. Vrain: Looking for a bomb shelter

NORAD SHELTERS EDITOR’S NOTE: The 1950’s and 1960’s civil defense shelters were often if not always inappropriate and inadequate protection from nuclear, biological and chemical warfare. More details here.

http://www.timescall.com/columnists/johnnie-st-vrain/ci_30706696/johnnie-st-vrain-looking-bomb-shelterSee more… Emergency preparednessDear Johnnie: I don’t want to start another destructive round of nuclear paranoia, but I wonder how many bomb shelters were built in Longmont during the ’50s and ’60s. At least one of our friend’s homes has a room equipped for such an event. Are there any public ones as well? — Signed, What Me Worry?Dear Alfred: We both might wonder a long time how many private bomb shelters were built in the 1950s and 1960s, without ever finding out.I did, however, come into the possession of a list of public shelters in Longmont from 1969, thanks to Longmont Museum Curator of Research Erik Mason.”Nearly all are in and around downtown,” Mason said in an email, which included the list as an attachment. “… It doesn’t say whether all the shelters were stocked with supplies — I know the St. Vrain Memorial building was stocked for many years (it’s still a shelter today).”In fact, when it was constructed in 1951, the Memorial Building was intended to be used as a bomb shelter, Peter Perez, an emergency management analyst with the city, told me.”That’s why so many of the sheltering supplies were stored there,” he said.Where’s the “bomb shelter” part of that?”It does have some parts that go underground, but not enough to fit (many) people,” he said.Perez shared this interesting fact about the Memorial Building: During the 2013 flood, when the Memorial Building housed about 140 people who had been displaced, the cots used might have been the ones that were purchased back when the building was built.”Many seem to think so, although we are not 100 percent sure about that,” he wrote in a follow-up email. “They looked to us to be heavy duty wooden military cots, so it fits the era. None of the current staff remember purchasing these cots.”Oh, as to your original question: “Right now, there aren’t really any public bomb shelters,” Perez said.

 

What do adults and kids do all day inside a shelter?

Adults and kids can use the DVD player and TV for entertainment. Common AC outlets are supplied to power laptop computers. An EMP shielded vault is supplied to store laptops and other items vulnerable to EMP. All EMP shielded enclosures meet MIL-STD-188-125.

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