Nervous Japanese build N-bunkers
Thursday, October 26, 2006 23:22 IST
HONG KONG: North Korea’s nuclear test has unnerved Japanese citizens, who are barely a missile strike away from Pyongyang. In response, home owners and businesses in Japan are increasingly preparing for a doomsday scenario by building underground bunkers that can withstand atomic force explosions.
Japanese companies that manufacture nuclear fallout shelters have reported a sharp spike in orders following North Korea’s underground nuclear test.
Kobe-based Oribe-Seiki Seisakusho, one of Japan’s biggest manufacturers of fallout shelters, said to DNA that it had received seven orders within a week of the test. Almost all these orders, it said, were from individual home owners.
In 2005, the company had secured a total of 18 orders — an average of three orders every two months — from home owners and businesses.
“We reckon the increase in the number of orders is indicative of a genuine fear among Japanese people of a nuclear war scenario,” a company spokesperson said in an e-mail to DNA. A few housing construction companies too are looking to learn how to incorporate shelters into the homes they build.
In the wake of North Korea’s missile tests earlier this year, Oribe-Seiki had witnessed a spurt in inquiries, but after last week’s nuclear test, most of the inquiries have translated into orders.
In the event of a nuclear attack, fallout shelters provide protection against extreme heat, wind and radiation. These shelters can also serve as a shield against sarin attacks (as happened on the Tokyo subway in 1995) or anthrax attacks (as happened in the US shortly after 9/11).
Shelters are built 10 metres underground, with reinforced concrete and walls that are 6 to 7 metres thick. They are equipped with a ventilation system that has a special filter to keep out radioactive waste. Most shelters provide for water, food, drainage, power generation and communications facility. The idea is to stay down until radiation levels abate.
A shelter for a family of 4 would cost about Rs 55 lakh. Shelters can be incorporated in new buildings, and retro-fitted into existing buildings, the spokesperson said.
Japan is the only country to have experienced a nuclear attack — in August 1945.
I want a fallout shelter too.
Walls 6 to 7 meters thick aren't fallout shelters, they are blast shelters.
I want some.
But with mine, I want porthole covers in the doors/walls so I can still shoot out
A burst of interest in bomb shelters
Va. Beach business received a flurry of calls after a claim of a nuclear test by N. Korea
BY JIM NOLAN
TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER
Oct 16, 2006
It's been a busier week than normal for Brian Camden's bomb-shelter business.
"I can tell you it's picked up since the test," said Camden, president of Harden Structures/Harden Shelters Inc. in Virginia Beach, referring to North Korea's claim of a nuclear test and saber-rattling with the U.S. last week.
"It's not just across the country but around the region," Camden said. "Their nerves are rattled."
Each month, Harden typically sells a handful of shelters designed to protect humans from the worst source of destruction mankind has to offer. While the majority of Harden's business is real estate development and construction management, Camden said he's received an increase in calls this month about shelters.
"People want to be educated on what kind of shelter they need to handle things like radioactive fallout," he said.
So far, North Korea's actions appear to constitute more political fallout in Washington and at the United Nations in New York than a credible threat to the U.S.
The metro Richmond region would also have to be pretty low on the target list of volatile North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, even if he were to acquire the technology that would get his missiles to the U.S. mainland.
For most of the past two weeks, Richmond's emergency-management officials have been focused on the devastation wreaked by Mother Nature. Flooding from Tropical Storm Ernesto and a collapsed sewer pipe has created its own biohazard in neighborhoods around Battery Park.
"We haven't gotten any calls or inquiries [about North Korea]," said Benjamin W. Johnson, the city's emergency-management coordinator.
But Johnson said the city has to be prepared for a nuclear threat -- albeit a different kind: The city is within 50 miles of Virginia's two nuclear power plants, North Anna and Surry.
The general rule in the event of trouble is to "shelter in place" -- in other words, find shelter wherever you are and don't go outside, he said.
Richmond is about 100 miles from the nation's capital, a potential target of terrorists or rogue nations with nuclear capabilities.
"We still monitor for these threats," Johnson said. "Our emergency preparedness doesn't stop with Battery Park."
The shelter business boomed with the coming of the nuclear age and the Cold War, as the U.S. and the Soviet Union developed technology to unleash Armageddon with the push of a button.
It was a scenario called the "bolt out of the blue," Camden said.
During the Cuban missile crisis 44 years ago, newspapers such as The Times-Dispatch ran stories on how to build and stock bomb shelters. The grand prize at a county fair held in the Danville area was a $500 bomb shelter.
However, by 1969, a report stated that fewer than half the shelters built during that time were still stocked.
Then came the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks -- and the shelter business took off again.
"Now what you design for is terrorists attacks -- dirty bombs, chemical and biological agents being released," Camden said.
"The chances of someone shooting a missile at us, and us not shooting it down, are kind of remote right now. But the proliferation of the technology has gotten out of hand. The delivery system can be somebody in a taxicab."
Depending on what you're willing to spend and how threatened you feel, you could handle nuclear fallout, or a biological or chemical attack with a variety of shelters, above or below ground.
They range from the portable, tentlike Temet Life Safety System ($7,500), to the top-of-the-line Apocalypse House, which can run $380 to $490 per square foot.
Customers include people with money, corporations, embassies and the U.S. government.
"It's fear for some people," Camden said. "And insurance for others against worst-case scenarios."
Still, the North Korean test, while a concern, is probably not worth a lot of sleeplessness in River City, said Scott Vrana, chairman of the psychology department at Virginia Commonwealth University.
"On 9/11, that attack felt really close for everybody and spiked a lot of fears," Vrana said. "It increases in our minds the probability that this will happen again."
But as for a nuclear attack on the U.S. from North Korea, he said, "We have not yet seen anything that really makes it more than a remote possibility in a remote country."
In Virginia Beach, where Camden's business is nestled in an area of military might, the 53-year-old Camden does not own a bomb shelter and has no intention of building one because of threats from Kim.
"I live on the bay," he said. "If I dug a hole, I'd hit water."
"And I just don't want to live my life that way."
Contact staff writer Jim Nolan at email@example.com or (804) 649-6061
Welcome to America in 1955, Japan!
Seriously, I don't think Japan is any sort of target for any type of nuke that kim jung can throw out of his country. He's not that stupid to take them on, there's nothing to be gained. I bet some, if not most, of those shelters are high-tech showpieces of electronic wizardry. It's a fad over there.
Yeah...well...they will also keep Radioactivity levels from Fallout down to practically NIL.
Where I live and work...If I were to build a 'Wine Cellar'...it would need some very thick reinforced walls...
Bomb shelter with bar: North Korean threat revives memories of the Cold War
By GREG JORDAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
What’s a bomb shelter? That was my first question when my teacher started passing out pamphlets describing how to build your very own family bomb shelter. The time was the late 1960s, and I was just another boy at Montrose Elementary School in South Charleston. The Cold War was well underway, so the state’s Civil Defense organization was encouraging everybody to prepare for the worst.
I have not thought about civil defense and nuclear fallout for years, but knowing that North Korea, that present day kingdom of the irrational, has been playing with nuclear weapons and threatening to lob one at the United States brought that pamphlet to mind. Naturally, I thought those plans were pretty neat, if a bit bewildering.
Civil Defense suggested a variety of bomb shelters. Several were outdoor lean-to styles, similar to those pioneer homes seen on “Little House on the Prairie.” I never understood the concept behind these so-called shelters. If our houses were not good enough to protect us from nuclear fallout, how was a shelter made of dirt supposed to be any better?
An even more bizarre design was a combination fallout shelter and bar. In event of a nuclear strike, just take the booze off the shelf and fold it down to create a nice snug box where you could wait out the nuclear storm. Again, I’m not sure what this was supposed to accomplish.
I later learned that South Charleston was on the Soviet Union’s nuclear “To Do” list. The chemical plants located there made the city a prime target. Charleston was nearby, and state capitals were prominent on any Nuclear America map.
Thus I learned when I was very young that there were people out there who just might fire nuclear missiles at us. I wondered what that would be like. Naturally, I envisioned giant nuclear ants and squirrels turned into panther-like killers. Or maybe the radiation would give me super powers like Spider-man. Cool.
The authorities talked about preparing for nuclear war the same way we now prepare for flooding and blizzards. You just had to make sure you had plenty of bottled water on hand, canned goods, crackers, and some books and games that didn’t rely on batteries. Oh, you also needed a battery-powered radio that would let you keep up with the news.
Of course, these preparations seem a bit ludicrous now. Radiation doesn’t melt away like snow or recede like flood waters, and you need more than a shovel to clean it up.
I didn’t think of any of these things when I took that pamphlet home to Mom and Dad. They looked at it, I think, and it was set aside somewhere. They soon forgot about it, and so did I. I had praying mantises to feed and homework to do.
I still don’t think much about preparing for nuclear war. Preparing for winter stays on my mind, but I don’t worry at night about whether North Korea or whatever flavor of the month is planning to play Rocket Boy and fire a missile at us.
If the worst did happen, I’d likely hurry to the newspaper and do what I could there, plus try to contact my family. Those seem like the most natural reactions. Like everyone else, I would be wondering exactly what had happened and what would happen next.
Frankly, I’m hoping that nothing will happen at all. I once visited one of our country’s nuclear deterrents, the U.S.S. West Virginia.
The West Virginia is a classic missile boat capable of firing dozens of nuclear warheads.
North Korea’s lunatic government may be murmuring about firing just one missile at us, but the West Virginia could wipe out that entire nation if it so much as burped. For North Korea to take on the United States in a nuclear slugging match would be lunacy.
Hopefully that country’s military realizes this, and would move forcefully if they realize their glorious leader is about to jump off the proverbial point of no return.
As the Taliban and Saddam Hussein could testify, “Don’t get them really mad. You just can’t tell what they’ll decide to do.”
Greg Jordan is a reporter for the Daily Telegraph. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Old fallout shelter catches Continental's eye
09:08 AM CDT on Wednesday, October 4, 2006
By Jason Whitely / 11 News
Just east of the Havens Landing RV Park in Montgomery County, a cold war relic is buried beneath 50 feet of earth.
"You know, no one really got a chance to come down here and see what was here," Westlin Corporation's David Herr said.
Now, some 16 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the owners of a 25-year-old nuclear fallout shelter have converted it into a secure underground data center.
Houston-based Continental Airlines recently chose the site as a back-up operations center to use in the event of a citywide disaster like Hurricane Rita posed last year.
The underground bunker will house the airline’s backup computers and data systems to monitor its planes around the globe in the event Continental can not use its primary control room at its headquarters in downtown Houston.
“It’s virtually impenetrable,” said Julie King, a spokeswoman for Continental Airlines.
Designed in the 1980s by a Chinese oilman fearful of a third world war, the 50-feet deep bunker was capable of sustaining 1,500 people for up to 90 days. The 40,000 square foot bunker is outfitted with its own utilities such as water and power, plus was built with oddities like a morgue and jail cells.
"Remember that the bunker was built for almost 700 people for a couple of months," Westlin said. "My daughter asked me the same question when we went through this. I said, 'you know you're down here in the bunker with that many people; there's no TV, no Internet, no radio. All you can do is sit around and play Monopoly and Scrabble with everybody else.' She said, 'OK, now I understand.'"
Continental recently retrofitted 15,000 square feet of an above ground building near the bunker to house up to 275 of its staffers if the airline ever had to evacuate its Houston skyscraper. That structure alone is built with bulletproof glass. The underground facility would only be manned by several of the airline’s IT employees in the event a Category Three hurricane or higher threatened Houston, said Julie King, a spokeswoman for Continental.
The Westlin Corporation now manages the site, which is 55 miles northwest of downtown Houston. Westlin leases out the two-level underground shelter to companies like Continental looking for a secure space to store data.
Twenty companies use it to house duplicate computer servers.
Anadarko Petroleum reportedly rents space at the bunker along with the government of Montgomery County and other companies.
i remember the bomb-shelter craze growing up in Atlanta. I knew a few families that actually built them. Some where fairily expensive.
then people started pointing out that the russkies would use city busting thermo nukes on major cities. and in that case you need to be inside a granite mountain or way down an super reenforced bunker to withstand the blast.. and people sorta stopped building the things...
Who can blame them. Any protection is better than nothing, even if its just to protect yourself from those that are left...
I have been thinking of building a "safe room" myself - mostly for punk intruders - obviously that would not save me from a nuke but there is nothing where I live to nuke anyhow...
Actually, no you don't (need a super reinforced bunker). It just needs to be buried. It's not all that hard to harden an underground structure to be able to withstand 20 PSI (assuming you are designing it for that purpose), and even with a 10 MT warhad, the 20 PSI ring isn't that large (about 2 km radius or so). The problem is the firestorm afterwards.