Explosions in Albany, NY Confirmed to be "Dirty Bombs"


For Immediate Release:
May 31, 2009 • 6:00 p.m.

Media Contact:
Communication Office

Burlington, VT – Authorities have confirmed that two explosions this morning in Albany, New York were caused by a radiological dispersal device (RDD), also known as a “dirty bomb”. A dirty bomb is constructed to spread a limited amount of radioactive material with explosives. It is NOT a nuclear bomb.

New York officials report that the explosions took place two blocks apart in the Capital Area of downtown Albany at about 10:00 a.m. today. Six people were killed and 20 taken to hospital with serious injuries from the blasts. First responders, law enforcement, and state and federal authorities are on scene, providing control and direction.

Radioactive contamination has been detected by local officials in the immediate area of the explosions. Highest measurements are within the City of Albany, but some contamination has dispersed into the surrounding counties of Albany and Rensselaer in New York.

The effects from a dirty bomb depend on the amount of explosive, weather conditions like wind speed and direction during and after the explosion, and the quantity and type of radioactive material used. State and federal authorities are continuing to investigate.

It is likely that winds will carry some contamination at low levels into western Vermont. Earlier today, Vermont’s HazMat team moved to the state’s western border to take radiation measurements with specialized equipment.

“We understand how frightening today’s events have been for so many,” said Radiological Health Chief Bill Irwin, ScD. “We are calling on Vermonters to stay tuned to TV or radio to keep informed, stay calm, and take any protective actions we ask of you right away. A dirty bomb is designed to cause fear and disruption, but the low level of contamination that may come our way is not likely to cause radiation injury.”

Vermont Response

Vermont officials have activated response plans and teams in response to today’s events, and are monitoring the situation in close contact with New York officials and offering any aid that may be needed.

Radiological health experts are working to asses the risk to Vermont and any actions needed to protect public health, animals and the environment. In addition to Vermont HazMat and the Health Department, the following state and federal agencies are responding with staff, specialized equipment or expertise:

Through the New England Compact for Radiological Assistance, experts from the other New England states will be coming to Vermont to add to our capabilities.

Regular updates, information and instructions will be provided through TV and radio. You can also visit http://healthvermont.gov - or - dial 2-1-1 for information in any language.


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