Friday, September 21, 2012
beer after bomb testing
...a 1957 U.S. government study called "The Effect of Nuclear Explosions on Commercially Packaged Beverages," which addresses this very question: After the bomb, can I drink the beer?
Well, in 1956, the Atomic Energy Commission exploded two bombs, one "with an energy release equivalent to 20 kilotons of TNT," the other 30 kilotons, a test site in Nevada. Bottles and cans were carefully placed various distances from ground zero. Notice, on this list, some of them are "returnable".
The closest containers were placed "less than a quarter mile away," says Alex, "a mere 1,056 feet", the outliers a couple of miles off. Some were buried, some left in batches, others were placed side by side.
As for radiation, they checked, and found that bottles closest to ground zero were indeed radioactive, but only mildly so. Exposure, the authors say, "did not carry over to the contents." The sodas and beer were "well within the permissible limits for emergency use", which means, says Alex, "It won't hurt you in the short term."
But what about taste? Post-bomb beer might not poison you, but will it keep its flavor?
The report says, "Immediate taste tests," (gotta wonder who got that job), "indicated that the beverages, both beer and soft drinks, were still of commercial quality, although there was evidence of a slight flavor change in some of the products exposed at 1,270 feet from Ground Zero." The most blasted beers were "definitely off."
The first tasters then passed samples to selected laboratories for further testing, and this time the contents were rated "acceptable." So here's your government's considered advice: Should you find yourself near an atomic blast and run short of potable water, you can chug a Coke or a beer, but don't expect it to taste great.