This map, released by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is contained in a report from a study that analyzed the likely effects from terrorists setting off a 10-kiloton nuclear device a few blocks north of the White House. The map shows a summary of severe, moderate and light damage zones, and types of damage or injuries likely to be encountered by responders.
The report predicted terrible devastation for roughly one-half mile in every direction, with buildings reduced to rubble the way that World War II bombing raids destroyed parts of Berlin. But outside that blast zone, the study concluded, even such a nuclear explosion would be pretty survivable.
The little-noticed, 120-page study was produced in November 2011 by the Homeland Security Department and the National Nuclear Security Administration. It was called “Key Response Planning Factors for the Aftermath of Nuclear Terrorism,” and even though the government considers it “for official use only” and never published it online, it circulated months later on scientific and government watchdog websites.