The Hazard from Plutonium Dispersal by Nuclear-warhead Accidents
Frank, von Hippel
Steve Fetter and Frank von Hippel, "The Hazard from Plutonium Dispersal by Nuclear-warhead Accidents," Science and Global Security, Vol. 2, No. 1 (1990), pp. 21–41
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Nuclear weapons are carefully designed to have an extremely low probability of exploding accidentally with an appreciable yield—even if they are involved in a high-speed crash, struck by a bullet or consumed in a fire. The principal concern when nuclear warheads are involved in such accidents is the possible dispersal of plutonium into the environment. In particular, an explosion could disperse a significant fraction of the plutonium in a warhead as particles of respirable size.