Dallas Morning News Bomb ShelterOriginally published on The Dallas Morning News by Bruce Tomaso on May 22, 2012

Underground bomb shelters — once thought to be the last line of defense for American families should the Commies drop the big one — aren’t quite the Cold War relics that you might imagine.

KSAT-TV, the ABC affiliate in San Antonio, reports that a Forney company, Radius Engineering International Inc., specializes in building high-tech shelters designed to protect their occupants from biological and chemical weapons, nuclear bombs, even natural disasters like earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes.

“I’m not aware of any weapon that this could not protect you from,” Walton McCarthy, the company’s principal engineer, tells the TV station.

The composite fiberglass shelters are made to last 250 years. They come in different sizes and styles. Some can be linked together to form what are essentially underground communities of up to 200 people. Occupants can live down there for up to five years.

Not that they want to.

“When you invest in underground shelters, you’re investing in an insurance policy. That’s what it is,” McCarthy says. “You hope you never have to use it.”

It’s not a cheap insurance policy. The simplest shelters from Radius Engineering cost almost $20,000 per person, KSAT says. The more elaborate ones run to the millions.

Some customers, McCarthy says, “have four or five shelters around the country that they can go to depending on where they are.”

CAT15 Shelter InstallationClients include not just individuals, but corporations, the military, even churches.

“More than 90 percent” of his customers invest in the shelters “because they’re worried about terrorism,” McCarthy says.

The company has installed 1,400 shelters all over the world. Where they are, exactly, he’s not saying. Built just eight feet underground, one could be beneath almost any patch of grass or pavement.

Most customers are highly secretive about the existence of their shelters. Some, McCarthy says, even going so far as to disguise entrance hatches and air vents as trees or rocks.

His company’s motto: “The future belongs to those who plan.”