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At some point before the events of Blade Runner 2049, Las Vegas was hit by a dirty bomb and thus deserted due to the radiation. During the events of the movie however, Deckard apparently has lived there alone and mostly unharmed for years. This begs two related questions:

  • Why hasn’t anybody looted the place? Apparently it still contains lots of treasures. Whiskey and wood are explicitly mentioned, and the metals and manufactured items probably have some value as well.

  • Why hasn’t anybody settled there? Granted, it’s not very hospitable, but neither is the rest of Earth.

It doesn’t appear difficult to access Las Vegas: K as well as Mariette and the replicant resistance did not encounter any major troubles getting there. I also would not consider it realistic that nobody noticed that the radiation has ceased, since everybody who can get their hands on a radiation detector (or build one) can carefully check.

As for the radiation, let’s consider the most pessimistic scenario: Only replicants (and bees) can survive living there as well as consuming or using any of the products. Even then, there seems a sufficiently big market for replicants (who seem to enjoy whiskey) and renegade replicants could live there. And that scenario is not particularly realistic since it would confirm that Deckard is a replicant (which shall be uncertain for out-of-universe reasons) and his dog is artificial too (which is an open question in-universe).

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  • No answer is given in the movie, but remember that the world of Blade Runner is significantly depopulated. People don't move to Las Vegas because there's plenty of space elsewhere, no supplies or supply lines there, and its radioactive. Jan 23 at 4:38
  • @MichaelStern: the world of Blade Runner is significantly depopulated – Didn’t Los Angeles have a population of 100 million or so? — People don't move to Las Vegas because there's plenty of space elsewhere, no supplies or supply lines there – Then why is LA overcrowded and why do we see people living on a gargantuan dump? Granted, that gives them some form of supply. — its radioactive – I already addressed that in the question.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Jan 23 at 8:46
  • Los Angeles may be crowded but the world isn’t. The book is clear on this. Jan 23 at 19:09
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You could compare it with real story, it is called Chernobyl'.

See, for example, there are plenty of "stalkers" or "city crazies" who are not just visiting zone, but living here.

In real-time:

And many others, however, as you can see, they are squatting old houses of peoples, who leaved the zone a couple of years ago, mostly to the cemetery...

There is still no any government permission or great wishing from the population to live near this dirty blast.

Square 200km x 200km - fine black soil, perfect humus, territory compared to small European country, probably larger than Netherlands or Switzerland, this territory is Totally Empty.

100 ( one hundred ) - 1000 ( may be one thousand ) city crazies and no more willings.

However, seems, there are hundreds of thousands of nuclear-tourists each year...

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    Welcome to the site ... I'm not exactly sure this answers the question. Why has this not happened in LV in the scenario set up in the movie? You're just reinforcing the question.
    – iandotkelly
    Feb 1 at 15:56

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