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Will the Ebola virus become a “dirty bomb” of terrorists? Some experts fear that the answer is positive.
One of them is a Cambridge University disease expert warns that terrorists could be able to build a dirty bomb containing the Ebola virus. Speaking to The Sun, biological anthropologist Dr. Peter Walsh says that the risk should be taken seriously of terror groups getting their hands on the Ebola virus. “A bigger and more serious risk is that a group manages to harness the virus as a powder, then explodes it in a bomb in a highly populated area,” Walsh told The Sun. “It could cause a large number of horrific deaths.”
A “dirty bomb” is one type of a radiological dispersal device (RDD) that combines conventional explosives, such as dynamite, with radioactive material. The terms dirty bomb and RDD are often used interchangeably in the media. Most RDDs would not release enough radiation to kill people or cause severe illness – the conventional explosive itself would be more harmful to individuals than the radioactive material. However, depending on the situation, an RDD explosion could create fear and panic, contaminate property, and require potentially costly cleanup. Making prompt, accurate information available to the public may prevent the panic sought by terrorists.
A dirty bomb is in no way similar to a nuclear weapon or nuclear bomb. A nuclear bomb creates an explosion that is millions of times more powerful than that of a dirty bomb. The cloud of radiation from a nuclear bomb could spread tens to hundreds of square miles, whereas a dirty bomb’s radiation could be dispersed within a few blocks or miles of the explosion. A dirty bomb is not a “Weapon of Mass Destruction” but a “Weapon of Mass Disruption,” where contamination and anxiety are the terrorists’ major objectives.