Nuclear bomb in D.C. would devastate district, study finds

Nuclear bomb in D.C. would devastate district, study finds

If a new government study is correct, the flash itself if a nuclear bomb was detonated in downtown D.C. would temporarily blind driver’s miles away on the beltway.

The government chose 16th and K streets—just blocks away from the White House, as the epicenter of the hypothetical nuclear explosion.

"If something like that happened, I just can't imagine the devastation,” said Jacquelin Bell, of North Potomac, Md.

But, Bell, who was here on 9/11, is glad that someone is imagining the worst case scenario.

“To say what would happen if a nuclear bomb were dropped here, it would be worse,” she said.

A government study predicts that a fictional nuclear explosion, set off at an intersection near the White House, would destroy everything within half a mile.
45,000 would die and several hundred thousand would be injured.

Published in November, the study comes to light this week against the backdrop of the President's trip to a nuclear security summit in Seoul, South Korea.

“As a consequence of this summit, more commitments will be made, more real tangible steps. As a result, more of our citizens will be safer from the danger of nuclear terrorism,” President Obama said at the summit.

"No one expects it to happen around here, I don't think,” Brent Kroll of northwest D.C.

Kroll works at the historic Saint Regis Hotel at 16th and K streets.

“This hotel is close to 100 years old so when you think about the history and all the landmarks around here, you certainly don't think about that happening,” Kroll said.

In the fictional attack, much of Washington would be left standing—the Capitol, the Washington Monument and memorials would have minor damage—but, at the epicenter, nothing would be left.

The government advises anyone within fifty miles of a nuclear attack to head down into a parking garage or basement. Anyone caught outside needs to get indoors and remove clothing and brush fallout particles out of their hair.

Treating all injured by the attack would be tough. The study says there are four hospitals in the area that would be severely damaged by the blast.

D.C. Emergency Management told ABC7 that they recently sat down and talked through a situation very similar incident, saying that something is being considered on a federal and local level.