STOP CASSINI Newsletter #25 -- August 1st, 1997

Copyright (c) 1997

STOP CASSINI Newsletters Index

Subject: STOP CASSINI NEWSLETTER #25 - More about John Gofman, Cassini Quiz, Rebuttal to NASA's Rebuttal.


This issue talks about our rebuttal to NASA's rebuttal of our comments on the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. The comments have been posted at the STOP CASSINI web site. This issue also presents a fascinating (and fun!) Cassini QUIZ you can try. Also more information on how to order Karl Grossman's wonderful new book called THE WRONG STUFF.

Sincerely, Russell D. Hoffman, Editor, STOP CASSINI NEWSLETTER

**** STOP CASSINI NEWSLETTER Volume #25 August 1st, 1997 ****
Today's subjects:

****** VOLUME #25 August 1st, 1997 ******

By Russell D. Hoffman
Copyright (c) Russell D. Hoffman

THE WRONG STUFF, Karl Grossman's new book, due out August 15th:

As mentioned last issue (#24) Karl Grossman's new book, THE WRONG STUFF is soon to be published by Common Courage Press. The release date has been moved up to August 8th, 1997 and you can order your copy NOW by phone directly from Common Courage Press. It will be distributed by Login who are located in Chicago. Dealers should contact Login directly. Here are both addresses:

Common Courage Press
1 Red Barn Road
Monroe ME 04951 USA
(207) 525-0900
fax: (207) 525-3068
(800) 497-3207

1436 West Randolph Street
Chicago IL 60607 USA
(800) 243-0138

The ISBN number for the book is 1-56751-125-2. Cloth, $22.95+S&H.

No, this space was not paid for and I don't get a commission! I had the honor to be able to read the book in April in draft format and it's a blockbuster and a page-turner. Karl researches his documents meticulously. He is the winner of this year's MOST CENSORED STORY award from Project Censored of Sonoma State University (for Cassini, of course!). He presents a compelling and chilling history of NASA's nuclear mistakes and NASA's terrifying plans for a nuclear space future.

[We now also have a web page about the book.]

Dr. John Gofman

Last issue (#24) we talked about Dr. John W. Gofman and described some of his credentials. We were very short on space that issue, but he wanted us to also mention that he was co-discoverer of Uranium 233, and also, that the first of the three patents in his name, on the slow and fast neutron fissionability of Uranium 233, was described by former AEC chairman Glenn Seaborg as being worth in the neighborhood of "a quatrillion dollars" to the nuclear power industry.

Gofman also developed (in 1943) the chemical techniques to deliver the first milligram-quantities of plutonium to J. Robert Oppenheimer. Prior to that all anyone had were microgram quantities, but "Oppy" needed milligrams, and he went to Gofman for it, who was a graduate student at Berkeley at the time. Gofman produced more than twice the amount Robert needed and was able to keep the rest to play with for himself. (Okay, Okay. It wouldn't be my choice of toy either.)

He is the Chairman of the Committee for Nuclear Responsibility, as well as Professor Emeritus in Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California at Berkeley. While at Livermore National Lab in 1963 he established the Biomedical Research Division where he examined the health effects of radiation and studied chromosomal origins of cancer. He has authored four books on the health consequences of ionizing radiation -- in 1981, '85, '91 and '94.

These are just some of the things I didn't have room to mention in the partial CV shown for Dr. Gofman in issue #24. I'll run out of room again if I keep going here.

Dr. Gofman can be contacted through:

The Committee for Nuclear Responsibility
P.O. Box 421993
San Francisco CA 94142 USA
(415) 776-8299

Cassini Quiz Written by Kathy Spallone

Kathy Spallone has written an excellent CASSINI QUIZ which she submitted to NASA as her rebuttal to NASA's rebuttals of her comments in the June 1997 SEIS. It's a really fun and well-done quiz and we thank her greatly for permission to publish it and further, for permission to edit out the name of a space-age orange-flavored drink that I always sort of liked the taste of which she had mentioned in the original version of the document...

Mark R. Dahl, Program Executive
Cassini Mission and Payload Development Division
Office of Space Science, Code SD
NASA Headquarters
Washington, DC 20546-0001

Dear Program Executive Mark R. Dahl:

I was educated to be a school teacher, not a physicist, so my comments will be in review quiz form:


1. The English language has been revised! The new definition for "health effect" is:

a. Something which impacts upon our wellbeing, such as an illness, genetic defect, miscarriage, immune compromise or fatality.

b. The toxic or radiological effects of the various types of plutonium, including various fatal and nonfatal cancers (not limited to cancer of the lung, liver, and bone), leukemia, and gastrointestinal problems.

c. The number of excess latent cancer fatalities over and above the normal occurrence rate that could occur in the exposed population as a result of radiation from a launch accident or swingby accident.

d. None of the above.

Comment: The correct answer is "c". Although FSEIS, Appendix B, B-4 gives "c" as a definition, this is contradicted by Lockheed Martin FSAR, Volume 3, Appendix 1 (PARDOS Model Description), p. 53, where, in referring to internal exposures, it states, "In discussing fatal cancer from exposure to transuranics, BEIR IV (NAS 1988) endorses the statistical values for only three organs: lung, liver and bone. On p. 54 the "Ditzy Equation" is used to calculate cancer risk. It is heavily weighted in the consideration of internal exposures versus external exposures. The internal exposure calculations exclude the possibility of any cancers other than those of lung, liver, and bone. Further comment: Glossaries are legitimately used to define technical terms, not to redefine commonly understood terms.

2. In the EG&G LWRHU FSAR p.ii at the top of the page it states, "The total mission risk due to plutonium-238 dioxide releases from postulated accidents is 1.5 x 10 to the minus 5 health effects (latent cancer fatalities). What is the total mission risk given at the bottom of the page?

a. The same risk, of course.

b. 2.0 x 10 to the minus 5 health effects (latent cancer fatalities).

c. 2.0 x 10 to the minus 3 health effects (latent cancer fatalities).

Comment: The correct answer is "b". Did they round off to the nearest dead person? Also, why wasn't the rest of the plutonium, the non238 kind, included in this risk factoring? According to the FSEIS, E-75, plutonium 238 comprises only 71% of the plutonium dioxide.

3. In the EG&G LWRHU FSAR IV-10, the results of the impact testing done using only two canned LWRHUs (see IV-1) are reported. At 117m/s, "1 had clad release(failure) " and "1 minor aeroshell damage without clad release (no failure?)[sic]". At 212m/s, only one LWRHU was tested since the other had been destroyed at 117m/s. The result was "total aeroshell failure". On IV-11, this sampling was used as the basis for future far reaching safety projections. Which is true?

a."At the velocity of 117 m/s, the probability of failure was assigned a value 0.50 based upon one success (or restricted failure) and one failure...."

b."At the velocity of 117m/s, the probability of failure was assigned a value 0.75 based upon one limited failure and one total failure...."

c. "At the velocity of 117 m/s, the probability of failure was assigned a value 1.00 based upon two failures."

Comment: The correct answer is "a". Totally inadequate sampling was used for extensive extrapolation and computer modeling, given new meaning to the phrase "garbage in, garbage out". Even the DOE questioned the adequacy of the testing on IV-16, "If the assumed failure rate at 117 m/s shifts to 2 in 3 versus 1 in 2, the failure probabilities at 40 and 50 m/s rise above this arbitrary discussion level [1 in 1,000]. If probabilities at these levels are important, or if a more restrictive comparison level is more appropriate, additional impact testing may be desired." Further comment: The calculations throughout the documents remind one of the scene from Day 4 of Apollo 13: "Look, tell him 3 to 1.... I've got to give him [Nixon] odds." Cracked eggs come to mind.

4. In the EG&G LWRHU FSAR V-7, regarding launch pad-area accidents, it is stated that, "A bare clad [containing plutonium] will not come to rest atop the chunk of propellant....At worst, it can become nestled next to the block." If one wonders whether a clad could be forcefully repelled from one chunk to land on top of a smaller chunk, or whether something could fall on the clad, one has only to look for documentation by which process?

a. Go to Appendix F of the FSEIS: "Thermal Response of a LWRHU to Fuel Fragment Fire"

b. Ask NASA to send a copy of "Brenza, P. T.,'Thermal Response of a LWRHU to Titan SRMU Fuel Fragment Fires for the Cassini Mission,' JHU/APL Memorandum AM-96-D015, 13 August l996. "

c. Find the reference to the above in the EG&G Johns Hopkins report on p.25, call NASA to request it, be told they don't know if they have it, receive a letter from NASA advising that it must be requested in writing from Department of Energy, Code NE-50, 19901 Germantown Road, Germantown, MD 20874, write requesting it, and keep waiting, not knowing whether it will indeed contain the information needed.

Comment: The correct answer is "c". Plutonium release possibilities in a launch area fire appear to be being minimized. Launch fire is a very significant mission risk . Pertinent data should be more readily accessible. Further Comment: This reminds one of a quote from the recommended Apollo 13 movie, "Well, I'll tell you something about that fire. Uh...A lot of things went wrong." (Tom Hanks as Jim Lovell)

5. In the FSEIS, p.4-13 (4.5 Incomplete or Unavailable Information section), mention is made of a separate and independent nuclear launch safety analysis and evaluation for Presidential decision-making. According to 4-13, this may differ from that offered to the public in that:

a. It will have a detailed plan for getting to accidentally lost plutonium in the ocean, Africa or Madasgascar before someone else does.

b. It will go into more detail about emergency preparedness as well as in response to the Air Force's statement on E-6 of the FSEIS, "The cleanup costs do not include cost impacts due to the non-availability of the area."

c. "Risk estimates may subsequently become available and could potentially vary from the risk estimates reported in this SEIS."

Comment: The correct answer is "c". Will that information be made public?

6. In discussing an EGA swingby potential accident, it is stated that the health consequences could be "indiscernible."(FSAR, Vol 1, UA 5-9) In the FSAR, Vol. 3, Appendix 1-5, it is stated that "9,820 Curies of 238 Pu [were] released by atmospheric testing of nuclear bombs between 1954 and 1976 and .. 17,000 Curies of 238 PU ..were released when an early naval RTG (SNAP 9A) failed to reach orbit in 1964 and, as designed, burned up in the atmosphere upon reentry. Thus, man has released 27,000 curies or approximately 5 pounds of man-made 238Pu into the environment." It can be safely concluded from this that:

a. "Ignorance, when voluntary, is criminal."--Samuel Johnson

b. The consequences of these previous releases must be vigorously studied. Until and unless it can be conclusively demonstrated that no harm was done, further plutonium releases must be studiously avoided.

c. Things we can't readily discern, such as carbon monoxide and plutonium dioxide, can't possibly hurt us. If we can't trace what gives us cancer, it doesn't really matter.

Comment: The correct answer is "b". Answers "a" and "c" aren't safe.

7. The risk analysis includes possible disasters as a result of boosting Cassini to SHO (a type of long duration orbit around the Earth) in the event of a launch accident. True or False

Comment: The correct answer is "False". This reminds one of another quote from Apollo 13, "Hell, we've never even simulated it before, Gene."

8. If a launch accident causes plutonium to land in Africa, rocky Madagascar or the ocean:

a. Insufficient data.

b. No one will bother it until government recovery crews arrive.

c. It won't bother anyone until government recovery crews arrive. Comment: The correct answer is "a". The risk of plutonium being used in secret nuclear weapons programs or by terrorists if it should fall into the wrong hands is apparently not considered in the documents. Isn't this too large of an area to monitor adequately? After all "NASA and DOE have no knowledge as to whether the Russians have recovered their own radioisotope power source from Mars 96," according to FSEIS, E-132.

9. According to the EIS of June 1995, 4-103, a launch cannot avoid:

a. killing endangered "Dusky" Seaside Sparrows, formerly found on Merritt Island.

b. the introduction of ozone-depleting chlorine into the stratosphere along its flight path.

c. huge expenses to the taxpayer.

Comment: The correct answer is "b". If anything, concerns about the ozone layer and also the cancer causing effect of chlorine have increased since 1995.

10. According to the official documents, the purpose of the Cassini mission is:

a. To undertake a 4-year scientific exploration of the planet Saturn and its environment, including its atmosphere, moons, rings, and magnetosphere.

b. To reward military contractors for staying out of the arms for dictators business.

c. To wear down public resistance to a future of nuclear reactors and military hardware in our skies.

d. To study the effects of plutonium contamination within the environment of Saturn.

Comment: The correct answer is "a". Concern was raised also about getting to Saturn before its rings turn very temporarily edge-on to the Sun, which would hinder their visibility. However, delaying until that time would actually cause the moons to be more readily studied because of reduced glare from the rings. Has that been considered, especially in relation to delaying until a feasible solar alternative is produced?

0-5 correct: Reward yourself with: A snack of 95 SNAP beans and a hot tumbler of [orange-flavored space-age drink].

6-8 correct: Have a snack of Madagascar's produce: Vanilla rice pudding with coffee.

9-10 correct: Enjoy some fresh Florida citrus products, preferably organic and uncontaminated.

I hope this quiz has been helpful in pointing out some of the critical and unresolved problems of the Cassini FSEIS. As it now stands, the mission is unacceptably risky.

Sincerely yours,

Margaret N. Spallone

Rebuttal to NASA's Rebuttal

In April 1997 we submitted a 36-point commentary to NASA on the procedures which they used in the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. Many long-time readers of this newsletter know that NASA later responded to that document by including it in the June 1997 Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) with a point-by-point answer (37-point answer. They answered one point in the introduction).

We were given until August 4th to respond, and my response has been sent via overnight couriers. The rebuttal is a fairly long document so it cannot be included in a newsletter: The html file is over 50,000 bytes. It is available online right now, and has been described as "tenacious and hard-hitting" by one early reader!

Many of NASA's comments are reprinted with the responses, and I'll scan the rest in and put them online soon. Of course, if you have a copy of NASA's June 1997 SEIS you can read them there. But even without having read the original Draft SEIS, or the June 1997 SEIS, or even the June 1995 EIS, I have tried to include enough information so that you can still "enjoy" reading the rebuttal to NASA's rebuttal.

I worked hard to put together as many clues as I can find in the case against Cassini. Please take a look. If you want to skip around to the "exciting" parts, try 2-12(e) for starters! Here's the URL:

The original commentary is called I.Q. Test for Space Cadets and is located at this URL:


Please feel free to post these newsletters anywhere you feel it's appropriate! THANKS!!!

Welcome new subscribers!

Thanks for reading,
Russell D. Hoffman
STOP CASSINI webmaster.


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First placed online August 8th, 1997.
Last modified September 6th, 1997.
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