STOP CASSINI Newsletter #36 -- August 30th, 1997

Copyright (c) 1997

STOP CASSINI Newsletters Index

Subject: STOP CASSINI NEWSLETTER #36 - August 30th, 1997


The Editor of this newsletter has taken the position for quite some time that America needs to debate NASA's planned Cassini nuclear space probe. This edition of this newsletter gives some pretty clear proof that America's elected officials are not yet informed of this potential ecological disaster.

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

**** STOP CASSINI NEWSLETTER Volume #36 August 30th, 1997 ****
Today's subjects:

****** VOLUME #36 August 30th, 1997 ******

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

*** Talk to your Congresspeople!

In the last issue we presented a letter from Karl Grossman in which he mentioned that NASA is currently blitzing Congress with pro-nuclear Cassini literature. We must "blitz" them as well! Here are the efforts of Joseph Mitzen, which needs to be duplicated by others around the country -- and ARE being duplicated! Three Cheers for Mr. Mitzen and others who are bringing this issue before their elected officials!

At 09:32 PM 8/28/97 Joseph G. Mitzen wrote:

On August 29, 1997 a meeting was held between myself, Representative Christopher Smith (R-NJ), and some of his aides concerning the Cassini space probe. Neither Congressman Smith nor his staff were aware of it. Mr. Smith expressed his concerns about the potential hazards of Plutonium entering the atmosphere. He was briefed to the best of my abilities regarding the safety issues, including the possibility of failure regarding the Titan IV rocket and [Dr. Kaku's] reassessment of NASA's risk statement. Also, recent space accidents involving radioactive materials (such as the recent Russian satellite reentry) were discussed. We spent some time going over the health effects of Plutonium 238. The solar option for Cassini was also brought up briefly. Congressman Smith received a copy of a portion of [Dr. Kaku's] report, a summary paper of the issues involved, a copy of your rebuttal of the NASA/JPL PR paper, and a copy of a Reuters article that appeared Aug. 28 regarding one of NASA's satellites that had apparently fired its rockets, had begun spinning, and may be out of control.

Representative Smith is going to speak to Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) regarding her letter to NASA, and is also going to speak to the head of the Science Committee regarding the possibility of hearings.

I believe that you have a newsletter regarding Cassini. I would appreciate it if you would request that anyone in Mr. Smith's 4th congressional district of New Jersey would contact him and thank him for his concern, voice their own concerns about Cassini, and urge him to do whatever he can. Thank you very much.

-Joseph G. Mitzen




Thank you for your email. I will proudly post this information in the next newsletter. I am honored to have helped you in your efforts to inform Representative Smith of the problem.

But I am shocked, simply shocked, that at this late date a Representative from New Jersey would be unaware of Cassini! I might have thought his mind was made up, but now it appears his mind was blank! [NASA's blitz, so far, appears to be less than 100% effective. We should do better.]


Anyway, again THANK YOU for your support in this campaign to look at the issues involved in Cassini. Stopping it would be wonderful, but at least, America should know what NASA is doing.

Thanks again,

Take care,
Russell Hoffman

*** Two new speeches now online:

On July 26th, 1997 The Florida Coalition for Peace and Justice held a rally before the main gates of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. There were a number of speakers. We have posted a complete speech by Dr. Michio Kaku, and excerpts from a speech by Alan Kohn.

Dr. Michio Kaku:
A brilliant theoretical physicist and best-selling author of Hyperspace and Beyond Einstein, made a moving and powerful speech. Here is a snippet from the speech:

"I've been a professor of physics for the past twenty-five years. As a physicist I've learned you should always look at both sides of the story. I've gone through hundreds of pages of computer output from NASA, line for line and at first they seem to have a convincing case. They have computer programs as thick as the Manhattan telephone book. They have teams of engineers, squadrons of NASA bureaucrats, multimillion dollar budgets and they ask, "So, what do you have? You critics are nothing but scandal mongers, simpletons, and know-nothings." They may have computer programs as thick as telephone books, but you have just one, tiny thing on your side, and that is the laws of physics, the truth." -- Dr. Michio Kaku.

We have posted Dr. Kaku's speech at this URL:

Alan Kohn:
A former NASA employee, he was Emergency Preparedness Officer on the Ulysses and Galileo missions. He has now come out staunchly against the Cassini launch. Here is an selection from his speech:

"We've all seen NASA and the Air Force light up the sky out here with rocketry mishaps, every single year. Rocketry, believe me, is still in its infancy. There is no safe rocket. Not out here there isn't. Not in today's world there isn't. Rockets blow up very easily.

"And the plutonium canisters, NASA says they are indestructible. There's no such thing as a man made object that's indestructible. That claim is totally ridiculous." -- Alan Kohn

We have posted excerpts from Alan Kohn's speech at this URL:

*** NO NUKES concert 9/24/97 in Washington, DC:

The NIRS is the information and networking center for citizens and environmental organizations concerned about nuclear power, radioactive waste, radiation, and sustainable energy issues. They are located at 1424 16th Street NW, #404, Washington, DC 20036; 202-328-0002; fax: 202-462-2183; e-mail

Their web site is locate at:

On September 24th they are holding a benefit NO NUKES concert:

HONOR THE EARTH PRESENTS A NO NUKES CONCERT WITH BONNIE RAITT, THE INDIGO GIRLS, special guest John Trudell. Warner Theatre Washington DC 7:30 pm.

Stop the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1997!

No Atomic Dumps on Native Lands!

Tickets are $42.50 and are available at the Warner Theatre box office and all Ticketmaster outlets.

Tickets for Gold Circle Seating are $150 and include a Private Gourmet Dessert Reception with the performers at the Red Sage immediately after the show. These tickets are available only from NIRS, 202-328-0002. Visa, Mastercard and Discover card accepted. Gold Circle tickets are in the first 12 rows.

Tickets go on sale Saturday, August 23 at 10 am. Gold Circle tickets are available to the environmental/public interest community beginning at 10 am, Thursday, August 21.

Contact NIRS, 202-328-0002, fax: 202-462-2183, for more information.

*** We have lived too long with the dilution solution...

Not launching is not the end of the world or the end of NASA, but a real mission failure just might be the end of NASA and would not be good for the health of rest of the world, either. It would do immeasurable damage to American prestige.

Further, a mission cancellation because of the environmental risks just might signal a wake up call to the rest of the world, helping everyone to realize that on this small, fragile, crowded planet, dilution is not the best solution to ANY pollution problem. Avoiding the problem in the first place is the best solution.

We have lived too long with the dilution solution, and in fact when nuclear reports talk about the triviality of some radioactive release being such-and-such a tiny fraction of the "normal background and manmade radiation levels" the reporter making that statement, or rather the reporter who allows the nuclear spokespersons to get away with making that statement, is being illogical.

The only radiation levels they have a right to compare to is the natural stuff. It is simple logic. The manmade stuff was a crime against humanity but that is not the logic error. The logic error is this: It is a moving target with no real meaning. Increase the level of manmade radiation in the environment by a factor of 10, say, and what happens is that each NEW release that gets reported becomes a tinier fraction of the "natural and manmade levels", and appears, because of the reporting style, to be of less importance. Yet in reality it MUST be more important because as "natural and manmade" radiation levels increase, we probably all get closer to our own deadly threshold...

Maybe some people at NASA will wake up, stand up, and defy the mindset you describe that seems to be driving them these days. I hope so. We in the STOP CASSINI movement have heard from enough ex-NASA people to know that it's possible.

*** Shrimp Boat Protest Against Cassini update:

The Shrimp Boat Protest Against Cassini continues to gain momentum and the possibility that we can actually legally stop or delay the launch this way is quite real. We have posted some relevant information from NASA FSAR Preliminary Release on the RTGs and GPHSs, and June 1995 EIS at the web site already:

Wind Roses for the KSC area:

Local Atlantic Ocean depths (rough guide found in NASA documents, not for navigation!):

Cassini trajectory information:

We have learned that the size of the "danger zone" that NASA used for the recent Ace solar observatory launch which was delayed by shrimp boats was 8 miles wide and 40 miles long, stretching well into international waters. Since the rocket types are different for that launch and for the Cassini launch, the zone may be somewhat different in size and shape. We currently are trying to determine what the exact shape of the danger zone will be for the Cassini launch.

Upon looking it up in my Funk & Wagnalls, Volume 17, page 9, 1986 edition, the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea, it says the convention "allows each coastal nation to exercise sovereignty over a territorial sea up to 12 nautical mi (22.224 km) wide and jurisdiction over resources, scientific research, and environmental protection in an exclusive economic zone up to 200 nautical mi (370.4 km) offshore..."

This would indicate that while a nation may have some rights out to 200 nautical miles, those rights in most cases would not appear to include the right to board boats or remove boats or submarines operating in the area, unless those boats or submarines were a threat to the environment.

We found a copy of the convention at this URL:

Specifically, articles 56 and 57 of the 1982 convention state cover the area between 12 nautical miles and 200 nautical miles, called an "exclusive economic zone". Here are those two articles from the UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION ON THE LAW OF THE SEA which was signed at Montego Bay, Jamaica, December 10th, 1982 and was entered into force November 16th, 1994:


" Article 56: " Rights, jurisdiction and duties of the coastal State in the exclusive economic zone "1. In the exclusive economic zone, the coastal State has:

" (a) sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring and exploiting, conserving and managing the natural resources, whether living or non-living, of the waters superjacent to the sea-bed and of the sea-bed and its subsoil, and with regard to other activities for the economic exploitation and exploration of the zone, such as the production of energy from the water, currents and winds;

" (b) jurisdiction as provided for in the relevant provisions of this Convention with regard to:

" (i) the establishment and use of artificial islands, installations and structures;

" (ii) marine scientific research;

" (iii) the protection and preservation of the marine environment;

" (c) other rights and duties provided for in this Convention.

"2. In exercising its rights and performing its duties under this Convention in the exclusive economic zone, the coastal State shall have due regard to the rights and duties of other States and shall act in a manner compatible with the provisions of this Convention.

"3. The rights set out in this article with respect to the sea-bed and subsoil shall be exercised in accordance with Part VI.

"Article 57:

"Breadth of the exclusive economic zone

"The exclusive economic zone shall not extend beyond 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured."


One important consideration is that a state has certain rights regarding ships flying the same flag as the state. It is possible that this would preclude United States Citizens (such as myself) from legally taking part in this protest.

We will continue to examine the legal ramifications of the Shrimp Boat Protest Against Cassini. At this time we are still confident that an entirely legal protest such as this can stop or delay the Cassini launch -- and should.


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 30th, 1997.
Last modified September 3rd, 1997.
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Copyright (c) Russell D. Hoffman