Insurance for Cassini? Hardly!

by Russell D. Hoffman Copyright (c) 1997

The company that had provided the European Space Agency with a solar option, which Karl Grossman uses as part of the "proof" that NASA could have used solar, now claims it wouldn't really work. Can't do it, they say. NUKEM, the German official "civilian" nuclear company, bought the company that made the announcement that it could provide a solar solution shortly after they made the announcement that Karl has been using. NUKEM bought the entire company and presumably, replaced all the spokespersons.

Spokespersons generally, by the way, are perfectly happy to bounce from job to job anyway and don't understand a thing they themselves are saying. They just hold a line. "We would have to study that" is the closest they get to a confession that they don't have a clue.

Where does the logic lay?

I really believe logic is on our side on the entire Cassini issue, not just on the availability of a solar alternative. Even if "nearly everything else" seems to be against us (if only by everyone being unaware): The media, the political arena, the average unknowing citizen, all "conspire" against us. All we've got are the facts!

Inertia kills.

I can't tell you how depressing it was to hear not once, but several times, the phrase "I had no idea this was happening" at the conferences we just got back from in Europe. If even the anti-nuclear and peace activists in Europe had no idea, what chance the "common man", who has been educated by corporate giant media owned by nuclear power companies (GE and Westinghouse own CBS and NBC)? None of my friends have any idea. The environmentalists are even shocked to hear our story. But in point of fact, you hardly have to be an environmentalist to oppose Cassini! The facts are that overwhelming. But nobody knows. Imagine what the 99% of Americans must feel who are learning about this here, for the very first time? Disbelief? Dispair? Anger? Time will tell.

When you read about Cassini at this web site, it's just totally unbelievable, isn't it? YET IT'S ALL TRUE.

Everyone makes mistakes.

Sure, we might make a mistake in a fact here and there (I might. Karl's much less likely to do that.). In fact, I even know of one small one that I need to correct. But by and large, I'm sure the STOP CASSINI web site is about as right as my ALL ABOUT PUMPS tutorial is, and I don't hear many people tell me that's wrong! ALL ABOUT PUMPS is even used in -- get this -- nuclear power plants. I have cashed checks from them (for the price of the tutorial.) Granted, they won't be buying many more, now that I've come out of the closet on nuclear issues (but if they call me for technical support, of course they'll still get my best efforts), but hey--they had years to return them, and very few of them did! So even the nuclear industry has used -- maybe even is using -- my software to train their own staff! Obviously, I don't hate these people. But I do think they are misguided.

What about the rest of us?

Can Mainstream America believe me? Sure, why not? I think Mainstream America is just about ready to get totally fed up with corporate crap and is ready to change. It seems to me polls keep saying we really are a nation of people who WANT TO BE ENVIRONMENTALISTS. That's why recycling programs are so common these days. And we don't want to bully everybody else on the planet: Can't we all just get along? We want to show them who's better, not who's boss. America is a PEACEFUL nation in heart and in principal, so let's act like one!

We are tired of watching everyone pollute our planet.

We just don't want to get lumped in with fringe organizations. And we don't want to have a depression -- we keep hearing how bad it can be if the banks fail. But -- it's all false money anyway!

Less than 20 years ago the DOW was around 2000, now it's pushing 7000. What's gotten that much better in 20 years? Are we all 3 1/2 times better off? I doubt it! If we were, then we'ed all have "heads-up" displays in our cars like they promised would come out of Space/Military technology in the 60's! Frankly, it's all just paper money held together by a simple trust. NASA and other similar -- and almost daily -- affronts to the public trust may one day (soon?) forcibly devalue the whole system if no one believes in it any more. This can happen nationally or internationally. Either way, it will have global effects.

The United States could be rendered helplessly poor if Price-Anderson (the government "insurance policy" under which Cassini is flying) is invoked and then fails in World Court. And it should fail, because it is lunacy. And it's even greater lunacy to apply this archaic act to Cassini.

Who knows? Maybe a whole new cash structure is a good thing!

Yeah maybe, but it's not likely. But it is true that right now, we are all slaves to the multi-national corporations. If we can wrestle free of them, we can wrestle free of anything -- even bad government!

I've heard that with all the money spent on the COLD WAR, if we had that money now, we could pay to rebuild EVERYTHING--every school, every dam, every civic project -- everything. Not just in America but everything, everywhere! That's a lot of money! Now I ask you: who are we fighting? We buy the plutonium from Russia! (I think most nuclear space projects are now bought from Russia, since TOPAZ is, as well as the Pu 238 for Cassini).

So if we don't have this "Evil Empire" to aim our weapons against, just how much investment in World War Three is the right amount? Cassini is just the tip of the space nuclear iceberg, and the rest of the iceberg is coming: weaponry and powerplants for STAR WARS and it's descendants. Perhaps this wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't for the fact that it's being done in such a way that win, lose, or draw, eventually these things are going to incinerate as they fall back to earth. Not every mission can work, even if Cassini flies as planned. Putting plutonium and other radioactive materials in space is just about the most dangerous thing you can do with them, whether it's intended to go to Saturn or intended to orbit Earth itself. In fact, it is so stupid that it would be comical, if it wasn't ACTUALLY happening! But it is happening.

Let's talk more about money.

Cassini cost about $3.4 billion dollars, but that doesn't include potential insurance payouts if it fails. However, in a sense, we have also already taken care of that. No, the money's not in the bank. It's in your pocket. Here's how: If Cassini fails we will have the Price-Anderson act to fall back on. It's an artificial limit on the amount of damages the government will pay out for a nuclear-related accident. The Domestic payout was originally capped at around $780 million dollars, but it has risen over the time the act has been in effect and is now capped at around $7 billion dollars. That's enough to buy about two Cassinis. And after that? If Manhattan becomes radioactive, we have agreed to pay up to two Cassini's for the entire city. So we might just FIND OUT what it's like to have all our financial institutions fail! If the Government won't pay, well, somewhere, somehow, someone's going to have to pay! It's a simple law of economics! Sure, the people it lands on will pay in death, disease, heartaches, and lost property values. But so will everyone else! The government's own estimates for maximum cleanup costs is about equal to the national debt! I'm serious! And they have this great plan, too! Dig the soil up and put it somewhere else! Yeah! Like where, NASA? This world isn't big enough for plutonium and people. You can't shovel the problem away. IT'S A CLOSED SYSTEM.

But it gets worse.

If Paris gets hit by Cassini and becomes instantly radioactive, well, that's just $100 million in insurance. That won't buy ONE PAINTING in the Louvre! (I'm thinking of the one painting being the Mona Lisa, but there are other paintings and statues worth nearly as much, and maybe even more.) $100,000,000.00 wouldn't even be enough to replace an antenna on Cassini! But foreign insurance claims are limited to $100,000,000.00 by a law we wrote and are flying Cassini under called Price-Anderson. Even if Price-Anderson made sense domestically for nuclear power plants 40 years ago when it was enacted (which it didn't, but that's how it came about) it makes no sense at all for Cassini. It's not for flying space vehicles, it's for grounded nuclear power plants. So the international liability clauses make no sense. If we could pick up Three Mile Island and dump it in some other country's lap... Actually I'm sure we would, but we can't. With Cassini, we can. Pu 238 is 280 times more radioactive (and thus 280 times more dangerous per atom) than Pu 239 (the kind found in Chernobyl). This means that in terms of health effects, it is like having 73 X 280 = over ten tons of plutonium 239 spilled into our atmosphere! That means potentially more health effects than even Chernobyl! Perhaps scattered worldwide, probably lasting for over 1000 years. This is what Cassini can do. This is disgusting.

This is a poisoned pill.

Cassini will (just a few seconds after launch, for starters) fly over Africa and its teaming millions, then over the rest of the globe, and that's just the takeoff! On the flyby we do it all again, and I'll bet NASA has NO IDEA right now what part of the globe the flyby in 1999 will be occuring over! GO AHEAD AND ASK THEM. Just one more thing they have no idea of the real answers about! What if it's over New Zealand, whose people and government have surely opposed this lunacy from the start? Is that fair, to impose this on them and then only offer $100,000,000.00 maximum damages if it falls on them? Of course not, but that's what America has done. We are a rogue nation! (Actually, we are not a rogue nation. We are joined by other rogue nations in the European Space Agency! But the liability for the RTGs is OURS!)

Nukes Suck.

I've studied nukes a lot longer than pumps, and NUKES SUCK. And nukes wouldn't work without pumps, by the way, but RTGs would, if you want to get technical. I'm not afraid to get technical. I can handle myself pretty well, and besides, I have friends that can help if anyone tries to simply get too technical on me. The facts are the least of my worries -- because they're all on my side!

If we fail to stop the space nuclear madness, future generations will suffer. It really is such a pain to really, really, truly feel like the lives of millions -- hundreds of millions -- depend on winning this one battle. But hey, I think they do. This one should be winnable. It's one blind roll of the dice. America, the world, can realize this makes no sense. Didn't we learn anything from Chernobyl? How many loved ones need to die? How many rockets need to fail? (Don't let NASA's claims that they are totally unlike Chernobyl fool you--we've answered that comparison several times already. Sure, there are nuances of differences, but the similarities far outweigh the differences. What we are doing is a lot like having Chernobyls in the sky...)

NASA is risking the unthinkable.

What happens if NASA succeeds in launching, and then fails (the probe fails in any one of the many worst-case scenarios we've described)? It's so unthinkable, but I feel that we have to think about it. We can all watch idly as 800,000 Rwandan Tutsi's are slaughtered by their Hutu neighbors in this decade (it was all over the TV) so I think we can look at stark realities about Cassini without being told we are using "scare tactics". But I hate thinking about what I'm doing this all for and why I feel so passionate. As I write this we've got what, less than 200 days left to stop it? Can the rest of my life please come to a halt, thank you? No, it won't. I'm releasing a new ALL ABOUT PUMPS tutorial, adding articles to the web site, working on two or three other people's tutorials... Life goes on...

Copyright (c) 1997 by Russell D. Hoffman.


Related pages at this web site:
Stop Cassini Home Page
No Nukes In Space! Not now, not ever.
Space Debris Home Page
A series of articles on this shameful problem.
Related pages outside this web site:
The web site for NUKEM, in case you thought it was a joke.

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First placed online April 3rd, 1997.
Last modified June 13th, 1997.
Webwiz: Russell D. Hoffman
Copyright (c) Russell D. Hoffman