George Bush's private plane to........

  Seth Haniel 16:02 05 Sep 2007
  €dstowe 16:28 05 Sep 2007

How many times does this happen - not only in the USA but anywhere - which we are never told about?

How did the nucular (as GWB might say) weapons ever arrive at the US military bases that were/are dotted around this country? By magic? De/rematerialisation?

  Forum Editor 17:52 05 Sep 2007

knee-jerk reaction to this story, because of that word 'nuclear', but it's nothing to get all worried about.

How many times have you heard of a nuclear explosion resulting from an accident on or to an aircraft carrying nuclear weapons? The answer is 'never', because it has never happened, and the chances of it happening are so remote as to be not worth worrying about for a second.

  Weskit 18:07 05 Sep 2007

I think the point lies in the final para of the report, i.e. escape of plutonium debris after an accident.

  spuds 18:16 05 Sep 2007

From the link: "At no time was there a threat to public safety, it is important to note that munitions were safe, secure and under military control at all times" Col Thomas said.

I wonder if that would come under Friendly Fire, we often hear about, when military mishaps occur!.

  Forum Editor 19:33 05 Sep 2007

The risk to human health from a Plutonium leakage is often greatly exaggerated. To be harmful, Plutonium must be ingested - usually by inhaling minute particles from the air. If an aircraft carrying a nuclear weapon crashed, and if (not when, but if) the plutonium from the warhead was scattered into the air it would rapidly settle to the ground. On the ground it would be relatively harmless, and fairly easy to recover. Contrary to popular belief there would not be thousands of deaths, there would probably be none, or very few at most.

If the Plutonium got into a lake or reservoir there would be even less risk - it's been calculated that a kilo of plutonium falling into an average lake would not cause any appreciable human health risk. People drinking the water would have to drink thousands of gallons of it in order to receive enough plutonium to harm their health.

I'm not saying that it's a great idea to have clouds of plutonium particles drifting around, but we should keep a sense of proportion. It's extremely unlikely to happen as a result of a plane crash, and the likelihood of a plane carrying armed nuclear warheads crashing anywhere near a densely-populated area is remote.

  Devil Fish 21:11 05 Sep 2007

it is unlikely a plane traveling between 2 American air bases would encounter a scenario where friendly fire may occur

as FE has said its a Knee Jerk reaction

gloom and doom and scare stories sell papers

  Bapou 22:24 05 Sep 2007

"Army Times quoted the colonel as saying the loading crew involved had been temporarily "decertified" pending retraining and the investigation."

That's comforting!

  holme 22:26 05 Sep 2007

As I understand it (we need a chemist to explain), the danger is not so much from Plutonium leakage as such, but if the warhead containing the Plutonium is engulfed by fire, e.g. if still attached to an aircraft in a crash, or if another aircraft crashes onto an armed aircraft. Then I believe it's an entirely different ball-game. I think burning magnesium + plutonium = ever-so-high temperature = oooh nasty. Having seen a very near miss (25 yards), I'm a tad nervous about this...

But as FE says, the probabilities are ever-so-small. Driving to work and back, and/or smoking, poses a far, far bigger risk to your health.

  Forum Editor 23:28 05 Sep 2007

It's actually quite difficult to ignite plutonium when it's in a mass - it needs to be finely divided into particles before it will burn readily.

  WhiteTruckMan 23:38 05 Sep 2007

click here

In terms of aircraft crashes, I recall some nuclear bombs being lost off the coast of spain (?) from a us aircraft-think it crashed but not sure. Not even sure if all the warheads were recovered.

I also wouldnt be surprised if there were quite a few warheads at the bottom of the ocean from lost subs as well.


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