STOP CASSINI Newsletter #81, November 12th, 1998

Copyright (c) 1998

STOP CASSINI Newsletters Index

Subject: STOP CASSINI NEWSLETTER #81, November 12th, 1998
Sent to: Subscriber List, press, elected officials. May be redistributed and reprinted if done responsibly.


This issue contains a response to a syndicated column on space debris, also written comments submitted to the USN, and a letter to Clinton about global warming.

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

***** STOP CASSINI NEWSLETTER Volume #81, November 12th, 1998 *****
Today's subjects:

****** VOLUME #81, November 12th, 1998 ******

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


This letter was written in response to the idea that nuclear technology is the solution to global warming:


Russell D. Hoffman
November 11th, 1998

To: President Bill Clinton, Vice-President Al Gore
Cc: Todd Stern, Special Assistant to the President (202) 456-2215,
Jason Babbie (212) 349-1366

Dear Mr. Clinton and Mr. Gore:

Although I agree completely that Global Warming is a major problem which the world needs to honestly face, it will not do to replace a large problem with an even bigger one -- namely, nuclear energy "solutions".

America must set a policy of sustainability, not waste. Our future should not be that of a nuclear wasteland, but rather, a clean environment for our children and their children. That is what will keep America powerful. It is preposterous to be suggesting that ANY non-renewable, dangerous, polluting technology is the solution to global warming or any other environmental problem we are now facing. Remember that America is a very young nation and we have already used our natural resources totally out of proportion. It has made us strong, but for how long? If we are, as we think, the greatest nation on Earth, only time will prove it. And when resources run out, and people are dying from environmental assaults like Chernobyl, Scorpion, Thresher, and dozens of Russian nuclear assaults, and all the little leaks which officials have claimed are each and every one harmless, how great will we seem then? And who will even care?

Instead of going down that deadly track, I implore you to put your efforts and the efforts of this nation into a viable, sustainable energy policy which will keep America strong forever.

Otherwise you'll kill the very country you claim to love, and all the other people of the world as well. Slowly, but as surely as night follows day and corruption follows money, you'll kill us all. That will be your legacy, and a hundred years from now (perhaps two hundred if we're lucky) Americans will spit on your graves if you use global warming as an excuse for increased use of dangerous, expensive, faulty and unsustainable nuclear options. Sirs, you stand at a crossroads.


Russell D. Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA
United States Citizen

Owner and Chief Programmer,
The Animated Software Company
(for affiliation purposes only)



Note: The oral comments that go with these additional remarks were made at a public hearing held in San Diego, California, October 28th, 1998. They are supposed to be transcribed by the USN along with everyone else's comments and will then be presented in this newsletter. These comments, I think, can stand separately at least for the time being.





From: Russell D. Hoffman, Carlsbad, CA
November 10th, 1998

Additional Remarks:

My oral remarks concerned the clear and indisputable history by various branches of the United States Military, including the U.S. Navy, of misrepresenting the true dangers of low level radiation to the American public. These misrepresentations have resulted in the deaths already of at least 10s of thousands and probably hundreds of thousands of U. S. civilians (and perhaps even more soldiers) from nuclear weapons testing alone. Add to that, the damage to the ecosystem from the Scorpion, the Thresher, and a long list of smaller unclassified and undoubtedly many classified other nuclear accidents, and it is crystal clear that the real damage has only begun to occur, and many more lives will be wasted by our current and planned military nuclear policies.

However, it will be many more years (if ever) before the real effects are completely quantifiable with available statistical methodologies and analytical technologies, because of the widespread and insidious nature of the effect. Statistics itself, as a separate branch of science and mathematics, is only a few decades old! The science of health physics is even younger -- younger even than the harnessing of the "mighty atom" whose health effects health physics seeks to explain. Yet the trends are clear and just because an effect is hard to measure does not mean it does not exist and is not responsible for 10s of thousands, hundreds of thousands, and perhaps even millions of deaths globally and in the United States.

The nuclear option, whether used or unused, is a weapon of mass destruction. It is both a target for terrorists and a tool of fascists (because it concentrates so much power in the hands of so few).

Yet the Navy continues to support this option. Why?

History clearly shows from the government's own documents and from a wide variety of other sources, that the nuclear option was often supported in part because the evidence of the true hazards of low-level radiation to a closed ecosystem was not yet available (see sample, below). But in those cases, including in the case shown below (the "Manhattan" project), little real effort was made to actually obtain this vital information. And indeed, it is very hard evidence to obtain, requiring 10s of thousands or even 100s of thousands of test subjects, which introduces all sorts of statistical problems in itself, not to mention the logistic ones, or the cost. But slowly, the truth is showing itself and it continuously points closer and closer in one direction -- that low level radiation is far more dangerous than originally suspected.

In other cases, where various truths were actually known but not presented properly to the public, it was often done under the name of National Security or some other misnomer. In fact any conceivable "National Security" issues are obliterated by the overriding concerns of human health, not to mention the wasted additional money the nuclear option costs over non-nuclear options, and the endangerment to the world's environment that an accident (including possible enemy action) could have. (The Russians are now reported to have a better cruise missile than the French Exocets I mentioned in my other remarks.) The DEIS covers only the health effects of a properly functioning reactor, which is uselessly incomplete considering all the fuel and ordinance kept so close to the reactors -- and considering also, the 1500+ mile range of typical cruise missiles. In today's paper are reports of three Navy air crewmen who were lost just this week, due to a collision of two planes on board a United States Aircraft Carrier deck. Accidents do happen!

The preposterous claim that no accident or enemy action can destroy these ships and cause a loss-of-coolant accident is implicit in the DEIS's failure to properly consider the hazards of full-scale meltdowns in our harbors. Further, the lack of concern over "the dilution solution to pollution" (that is, the effects worldwide of increased radiation levels over time) is bad science, plain and simple. Lastly, the inability of the Navy to understand its greater role as a part of a geopolitical/environmental situation is frightening, if only because the Navy should be thinking globally since it certainly acts globally. Numerous countries (besides America!) do not want these things ported in their harbors! If some poll shows the American civilian has been fooled into favoring the Navy's nuclear options, it is only because decades of misrepresentations by the U. S. military, like the current DEIS and like the item below, that they (the public) have agreed to be part of the costly nuclear terror.

The following quote is from the same book my oral quotes from H. D. Smyth were taken from -- A GENERAL ACCOUNT OF THE DEVELOPMENT OF METHODS OF USING ATOMIC ENERGY FOR MILITARY PURPOSES UNDER THE AUSPICES OF THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT 1940-1945. The author, H. D. Smyth, was at the time Chairman of the Department of Physics of Princeton University and "Consultant to Manhattan District U. S. Corps of Engineers". The report was written at the request of Major General L. R. Groves United States Army. Publication was authorized as of August 1945, with reproduction in whole or in part authorized and permitted. In short, this document was the official report to the American public about the atomic bomb at the time of its initial development and use. Regarding radiation from an atomic blast, it uses the phrase "dispersed harmlessly", which we now all know to be utterly devoid of fact, yet it is a statement hauntingly similar to the entire attitude of the United States Navy to the truth about radiation hazards. The quote is from page 154. Bold has been added to highlight the misrepresentation:

"On account of the height of the explosion practically all the radioactive products are carried upward in the ascending column of hot air and dispersed harmlessly over a wide area."

Harmlessly? That is easy to prove false -- look at the effects of Iodine 131 from barely 100 above-ground U. S. nuclear tests as recently reported (after a 14-year wait since the investigation was completed). The only question is are there 4 zeros, 5 zeros, or more in the total number of civilian U.S. deaths so far from U.S. nuclear weapons testing? The fact is it wasn't harmless and the statement, like so many others, was a complete misrepresentation to the American public. Low-level nuclear radiation kills in numbers the U.S. military apparently refuses to understand, whether that radiation comes from nuclear weapons testing, harbor meltdowns, or from sunken reactors over time. The Navy's claim to being able to handle these materials to the required level of perfection is both mathematically absurd and morally repugnant.

Clearly, it is time to face the truth of the nuclear menace to humanity, and it is time for the United States Navy and other branches of the military to realize that their service to America must include fair concern for delayed and dispersed responses (a.k.a., "health effects") to their actions.

It has been more than 50 years since the public was first misinformed about the incredible cost of these deadly toys, and it's been long enough. The Navy must face the truth, must present the truth, and must serve the public properly in all it does. The 50-year lie to the American people must come to an end, lest other countries, that are even more capable of hiding the truth from their citizens, also take up the nuclear lie. (India and Pakistan quickly come to mind, each with more than a 90% illiteracy rate.)

Lastly, I wish to state that the Navy policy of not simply distributing Environmental Impact Statements directly to any U. S. citizen who requests one is in complete opposition to the spirit of the laws under which the EISs and DEISs and so forth are produced in the first place. My own request for one has so far been turned down, which is the reason my statements do not address actual remarks inside the document. I have had some chance to look over it, and it clearly follows the trends described in this letter and in other government nuclear EISs and DEISs (not to mention SEISs and DSEISs) I have seen. They all ignore worst-case scenarios and low-level effects.


Russell D. Hoffman
Carlsbad CA
United States Citizen

Owner and Chief Programmer,
The Animated Software Company
(for affiliation purposes only)



One of the ways the modern media has corrupted democracy is to refuse to give the voice of opposition a chance. Sure, the local paper might print someone's response to a bad editorial, but when the editorial or column being responded to has been published nationwide, there is little chance that the hundreds of similar responses that need to be written will, and will be published. For example the letter below, which the local paper did not even publish a little bit of, was a response to Dr. Bengelsdorf's column which I believe is nationally syndicated. So even if the North County Times had published my views, it would have done little to arrest the false assurances contained in the original Bengelsdorf document.

Similarly, last year the pro-Cassini power players suddenly submitted columns all around the country in a carefully-timed media blitz. Expect a repeat of that procedure next summer for the flyby (due (according to NASA) August 18th, 1999).

text of letter to North County Times

Russell D. Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

North County Times
207 E. Pennsylvania Ave.
Escondido CA 92025

July 25th, 1998

To The Editor:

Although it was somewhat gratifying to see Dr. Irving S. Bengelsdorf report on the problem of space debris in today's edition of the North County Times, I would like to point out some factual and philosophical errors in his Of Atoms And Men Earth's Rings are Manmade Trash.

He states that a collision with "space debris larger than a half inch could destroy a spacecraft". Perhaps Dr. Bengelsdorf is referring to proposed standards for the international space station although currently, Russia's portion is not expected to meet even these standards. Many of the operational satellites now in use are not nearly that well protected.

According to part 1, page 8 of the 1995 Interagency Report on Orbital Debris, "The kinetic energy in an aluminum sphere with a diameter of 1.3 mm at 10 km/second is the same as that in a 22 caliber long rifle bullet." That is an object only about 1/10th the diameter Dr. Bengelsdorf refers to. Additionally, the same paragraph of the report states, "For debris larger than about 0.1 cm, structural damage to the satellite becomes an important consideration."

The report, in its attempt to mitigate the problem through comforting but meaningless words, does state that "It is currently practical to shield against debris particles up to 1 cm in diameter" but they clearly mean, at great cost and inconvenience. Every extra kilogram needed for shielding costs millions of dollars to loft into space. Even the smallest particles of space debris are havoc on lenses, solar panels, and other "tools of the trade" in outer space. And yet lenses and solar panels are probably the most important things we send into space (besides the electronics these tools hook into)!

The 400 million "tiny needles" the DoD launched into outer space as an "experiment" are undoubtedly particularly hazardous to fabric shielding such as for space suits, and certainly, the fools who commissioned that "experiment" should be brought before a court for reckless endangerment to future space travelers. The idiocy in that act is beyond "felony stupid" - it is monumental. But they won't be tried, ever: I guess it's just one more environmental assault our military has committed in the name of national security and in defense of the corporate-military state we all choose to live under.

Dr. Bengelsdorf has seriously understated the problem, especially when you consider this: As you include smaller and smaller diameter pieces in your estimation of what is dangerous versus what is "harmless" (pits windows, but presumably will not penetrate anything, including EVA spacesuits) you get exponentially larger populations.

This affects the second way he has understated the problem. Dr. Bengelsdorf has not given the percentage of what the government is able to track versus what is actually dangerous up there. As he mentioned, we track merely 10,000 pieces of space debris. The smallest of these tracked objects is about four inches in diameter - about the size of an American softball. Nowhere does Dr. Bengelsdorf point out the disparity between the smallest size we can track and the actual smallest piece that is a serious threat to spacecraft and astronauts. That disparity is the vast majority of the dangerous space junk up there - about 99.9% of what's out there that could harm a spacecraft and cannot be shielded against, also cannot be tracked.

Additionally, pieces further out into space (such as near the geosynchronous orbital area) must be much larger to be tracked at all - perhaps as large as a desktop computer or even a washing machine. So every mission into outer space is right now, a terrible crap-shoot with millions of 22,000 mile-per-hour speeding bullets for dice. Many of these further-out pieces are in orbits that are nearly in line with each other, reducing their danger to each other. But they are still a hazard to every mission that must pass through them to reach "true" outer space. This includes the recent Cassini mission with its 72 pounds of plutonium 238 dioxide, which last year had to pass through this mess when it was launched, and which will again pass through much of it in August, 1999 when it does a "flyby" of Earth, flying closer than 800 km above the Earth's surface. NASA cannot track all the hazards to that or any other spacecraft.

The last and worst error in Dr. Bengelsdorf's article is where he states that "not much can be done about the junk already there". This is utterly false and shortsighted. Not only CAN something be done, something SHOULD be done. Specifically, the 10,000 pieces of space debris we currently track, or at least the biggest and most vulnerable of those, could be brought back to Earth before they are hit by other intersecting debris, and smashed into thousands of untrackably-small new pieces.

Only an international willpower to repair this damage is stopping us. In the meantime, we continue to increase the space debris pollution at an alarming rate (again, unmentioned in Dr. Bengelsdorf's article), which increases the risk for every space mission and brings us closer and closer to shutting the doorway to the heavens, as Dr. Johnson warns about but has not solved. None of the steps taken so far have significantly slowed the growth of the space debris problem. As more and more satellites are placed in orbit the problem is continuing to grow. I believe Dr. Nick Johnson and Dr. Irving Bengelsdorf both have their heads in the sand, but at least, less so than just about anyone else involved with space flight these days.

This is an issue where a day of reckoning inevitably will come, and many government yahoos will have to answer for their reckless behavior, because space debris will, sooner or later take out a manned space mission, and then the real magnitude of the problem will become public knowledge and receive the public scrutiny it deserves. And perhaps Dr. Benglesdorf and Dr. Johnson will be thanked for trying to bring the issue out in the open, but I believe rather, that their lack of any sense of urgency on the issue should be condemned. And others, who are right now creating wasteful space missions that will inevitably create more debris, should be stopped.

I have included a report on the problem which I presented on a live radio show way back in May, 1995. I have a web site devoted to the problem at the following URL:

I hope the public will come to recognize that the early explorers into space were so obsessed with beating the Russians (or in their case (and they are the worst polluters of space), beating us) that they ignored basic laws of physics and behaved in a manner which should now be considered reprehensibly irresponsible.

And it should come as no surprise: Many of these early rocket scientists were willing Nazi V2 scientists until Germany lost the war. They did not care if they bombed England to rubble for the sake of a maniacal dictator who wanted to destroy the world. Why should anyone have expected them to care about other forms of collateral damage from their "high-tech" games? London's collective memory of the 1500+ V2's that hit her, and the thousands of gravesites for those that died from those attacks, and the current space debris problem, are all legacies of the same narrow-minded thinking.

Today it is time for a new generation of rocket scientist to take over, one capable of seeing a broader picture, dedicated to using space to help all mankind. Space should be the ultimate observatory for environmental research of Earth, for instance, as well as for platforms to view the rest of the universe. We need rocket scientists who will not trash tomorrow's gateway to the stars in order to accomplish short-sighted goals today.


Russell D. Hoffman

Encl.: A copy of this letter, two copies of the radio show, and two copies of the index page from my space debris web site. I hope you will forward the second set to Dr. Bengelsdorf.

Note: If Dr. Bengelsdorf's column is syndicated, I would appreciate your sending these comments to the syndication firm with the request that they be distributed to his syndication's editors as a letter to the editor.

end of text to North County Times (San Diego, CA)


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Russell D. Hoffman
STOP CASSINI webmaster.


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