Subject: STOP CASSINI NEWSLETTER #84 -- January 4th, 1999
Sent to: Subscriber List, press, elected officials. May be redistributed and reprinted if done responsibly.
This issue contains the editor's submission to DOE regarding their Notice of Intent to release an EIS to cover an increased ability to build even more plutonium power packs for "deep" space missions. Today (Monday, January 4th) is the last day for submissions so I hope others have made or will make today, a submission telling DOE not to build any more RTGs, RPSs, or other nuclear space power sources.
Sincerely, Russell D. Hoffman, Editor, STOP CASSINI NEWSLETTER
***** STOP CASSINI NEWSLETTER Volume #84, -- January 4th, 1999 *****
****** VOLUME #84, January 4th, 1999 ******
By Russell D. Hoffman
Copyright (c) Russell D. Hoffman
*** *** DOE NOTICE OF INTENT: A response
To: "Colette Brown" (Colette.Brown@HQ.DOE.GOV)
From: "Russell D. Hoffman" (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Re: DOE NOTICE OF INTENT: To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Proposed Production of Plutonium-238 for Use in Advanced Radioisotope Power Systems for Future Space Missions (DOE/EIS-299)
Date: January 4th, 1999
Dear Ms Brown:
Regarding the DOE proposal for creating plutonium power packs for "deep" space missions, these missions are neither deep nor necessary.
It is in fact preposterous to be setting up for the continued production of RTGs (Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators), RPSs (Radioisotope Power Sources), or any other energy form with such toxic consequences from any failure of the system. These concentrated pellets of doom have no business being sent into space on board NASA's (or anybody else's) rickety rockets.
Furthermore the global effects of the unfortunate precedent that such use would set needs to be addressed by any document requesting permission of the public to build such weapons (which is essentially what an EIS does). DOE claims these are NOT weapons, of course, but I say, if it looks like a duck, acts like a duck, and sounds like a duck, it's a duck. RPSs, with their dozen or so pounds of plutonium, and RTGs with about 24 pounds each of plutonium, are capable of such mass destruction that their only possible use would be military, and then only by madmen.
For example, Cassini, a previously lofted folly by NASA/DOE/JPL/USAF/CIA/CNN (launched October, 1997), carries roughly 270 billion "potentially lethal doses" of plutonium 238 (mostly). (That number is arrived at from a look at generally accepted public resources and has received little argument from either side. It refers to how small a division of plutonium 238 will virtually guarantee a lung cancer or other health effect when placed inside a human body.)
NASA's argument was not that there was not 270 billion "potentially lethal doses" but rather, that they had achieved the remarkable mitigation of this attack on the human race by containing these doses in a few dozen Carbon Bonded Carbon Fiber Sleeves, and some Graphite Impact Shells inside the Carbon Bonded Carbon Fiber Sleeves, which are themselves inside Carbon-Carbon Composite aeroshells, alias ("alias" is NASA's own word, on p. 2-14 of the 1995 Cassini EIS) "heat shields".
And these "General Purpose Heat Shields", known formally as GPHSs, are all packed together like sardines (sardines with botulism) inside of RTGs, which are actually designed to break away from the spacecraft in the event of a flyby reentry, and release the GPHSs, but they might actually instead get hung up in the flaming, descending probe, and release their toxins closer to Earth.
DOE needs to explain why this doesn't bother them. And DOE needs to understand and make clear to all who will read their reports, that these toxins are rather different from Botulism and the like; because plutonium does not "incinerate". It is a basic element, which cannot (barring its related use in a nuclear explosion) be further broken down. When "incinerated" in a flyby reentry accident, it does not "burn up" at all, it merely is dispersed as a fine aerosol in a wide distribution of sizes -- the absolute most deadly, dangerous form of the substance.
This aerosol is released at extremely high altitude in a "normal" reentry accident where none of the RTGs or GPHSs or anything gets caught in the probes' more sturdy parts as it descends. In that case (the "successful" reentry), it can take even decades for the filth to drift down to the surface of the Earth. By that time, of course, it will be so dispersed that it will be quite impossible to identify exactly which cancer, leukemia or other health effect a particular particle of plutonium causes.
The commonly accepted way that plutonium kills, as far as I can ascertain from conversations with dozens of scientists such as Dr. John W. Gofman, co-discoverer of Uranium 233 and a key figure in the isolation of plutonium for the Manhattan project and whose contributions to the field of nuclear energy have been described by no less than the late Nobel Laureate Dr. Glenn Seaborg as having been worth "trillions" of dollars to the industry, and also conversations with Dr. Karl Z. Morgan, who is generally acknowledged as the father of the field of health physics, which is the field of health study relating to how nuclear particles damage human lifeforms, and from conversations and email exchanges with dozens of other doctors, is that its released alpha particles slice through individual cell's DNA.
Since we each have trillions of cells which have DNA strands within them, and (as far as we can tell) any of them can potentially become cancerous if its DNA is damaged, we are at great risk from anything that has the potential to damage that DNA. Indeed, plutonium has been proven to be so good at doing this damage, that it is one of the most highly regulated and feared substances on Earth, and well it should be. Plutonium 239 has been proven to cause lung cancer in virtually 100% of its victims in quantities of mere millionths of a gram. Probably less than 30 millionths of a gram. Plutonium 238 is even more virulent: about 287 times more virulent, because a given mass of Pu 238 gives off 287 times more alpha particles per unit of time than a piece of Pu 239 of the same mass does. Therefore far smaller particles of Pu 238 are as dangerous as larger particles of Pu 239 -- 287 times larger. But yet, it is Pu 239, the LESS virulent form, that people generally think of when they fear plutonium. The half-life of Pu 238 is about 87.75 years, that of Pu 239, about 24,000 years.
Human's fear of this stuff is well-founded. What is at question is why DOE doesn't get it?
What they really don't seem to get, is that when spread out even far thinner than mere millionths of a gram (or thereabouts), while it is true that you no longer get a 100% fatality rate among those who receive a dose, nevertheless well established and entirely UNREFUTED scientific theory holds, that lower doses, kill in rough proportion to the "guaranteed" fatal dose. Thus, if you divide out one "killer dose" among 10 people, and in some diabolical experiment give them each those partial doses, then on average, one of them will develop a lung cancer, leukemia, or other health effect. Divide it out more, into 100 pieces, (of equal or unequal size), give those (again in the most diabolical of experiments) pieces to 100 people, and again, one will likely die from that dose.
And if instead you divide that one lethal dose out among a thousand people, or a million people (or 6 billion people, such as NASA has already done with SNAP-9A, but they forgot to collect the resultant data), equally or unequally, if you give it all to everyone in the theoretical diabolical experiment, then the result will still be, in every case, no matter how you divide it, no matter how many people you divide it amongst, the result will be, that on average, one person will develop a lung cancer, leukemia, or other health effect from your action.
That is what happens from one "potentially lethal dose". Of course, in the experiment, the dose was actually given to the subject. In the case of spreading plutonium around the environment, we each will take our chances, with every breath we breath, and every morsel of food we eat, that we will not be taking in NASA's great "scientific" gift to mankind. (Indeed, when the science is long forgotten, the plutonium from SNAP-9A will still be in the environment, causing cancers, leukemias, and other health effects.)
Cassini, as stated above, has 270,000,000,000 "potentially lethal doses" (less a bit more than one year's decay at this time) which right now merely awaits perhaps an August dispersal among 6,000,000,000 valuable, living, breathing souls.
I say enough. Many good scientists I have spoken with say enough. The dilution solution to pollution, which helps the polluter but not the polluted, does not work here, or anywhere. 270 billion doses spread around a small planet with 6 billion humans (and countless billions of other wondrous mammals and other animals) is wrong and should not be risked. Cassini was wrong to launch, and proposing more plutonium-based missions is wrong. There is no perfect containment system made by man, there is no perfect software spacecraft control program, there is no guarantee that space debris, perhaps manmade around Earth, perhaps natural, will not impact the probe and leave it in an orbit roughly like that or Earth. None of these things are guaranteed. DOE and NASA are chancing people's lives. Trusting in a game of cosmic craps with some really bad crap.
It is clear from a wide variety of research, that what is wrong with DOE is that they have been told, by the U.S. military and espionage complexes, that RPSs (and before that, RTGs) are necessary for global domination purposes. To some extent, this is true. Global domination from space demands enormous power, and nuclear fuel systems provide it. Surveillance systems require steady and reliable power sources, and because they often have snooping antennas which are as big as several football fields and which must be maneuvered towards Earth, it is cumbersome to say the least, to attempt to power these systems with solar panels. They also need to do much of their research at night, when the sun isn't available and when the signals they wish to snoop on aren't washed out by the general electrical activity in the daytime sky.
For these reasons, it is clear to this writer that the real purpose of the proposed DOE space nuclear power development system is not for some puny and wasteful "deep space" (a misnomer, by the way) missions, which could just as easily (most of them, if not all of them) be done with solar or other power sources, but rather it is to establish the system so that other plutonium power sources, and eventually nuclear power sources, can be built for the Cold War, which we are told is over, but I have yet to see one missile put away, or one peace dividend cashed in. However, since America's last official use of plutonium for "peaceful" power in space, Pakistan and India have both joined the Nuclear Ill. But not to worry: They did it with the help of many scientists, working for peace and prosperity for their country! Virtually identical to our goals! Have we not led our brethren into a bad place?
Indeed we have: They even cite us as an excuse -- how dare we, they say, criticize them for testing nuclear weapons which will, they say, ensure their safety? Now they are making bolder and bigger ballistic missiles, soon spy satellites soaring skyward, sometimes spilling sorrowful substances... That is to say, they'll blow up once in a while. Crash into a rock or some other hard surface. Land in a city. Leak. DOE has been lucky thus far with the hundreds or perhaps even thousands of GPHS units they have built and the score or so of missions they have been launched on thus far. But luck and skill are two very different things. The GPHSs have not been properly tested at flyby reentry impact speeds (or anything near). They have not been properly tested at flyby reentry temperatures (or anything near). We don't even know how hot they might get, but we do know that atmospheric friction heating increases with the cube of the velocity, so tests at even half the actual speed of reentry are barely worth an 8th of the full scale heating during the event. So extrapolation is sketchy at best. DOE is flying blind. On purpose. But what testing has been done should be clearly stated, with the number of units, the results, etc. including photos. For example, this writer believes there were plutonium power packs on board the Titan IVA spy rocket which exploded last August (1998). If so, what did they look like when/if they were recovered? Inquiring minds demand to know!
Additionally, every Environmental Impact Statement on similar subjects which I have seen or heard about, has made the following mistake (on purpose): They have averaged together thousands or even millions of individual accidents, some mild, some worse, and a few even catastrophic by anyone's standards, and only presented to the public, this averaged-out "worst case" scenario. It is in fact far from a true worst case. This procedure is generally known as putting the cart before the horse; it presents answers, without presenting the underlying calculations and suppositions to support those answers. In reality what is needed is a graphic and descriptive indication which relates the events which would constitute various accidents, to their probability of occurrence. The EIS's generally skip this data and lump everything together and present a summarized one-size-fits-all accident scenario, where only a fraction of the plutonium is released, and only over an averagely-populated area, and at an average (desired) altitude.
A true worst-case scenario in nothing like that: it is a large release near to a population center, close to the ground. Since a wide variety of uncontrollable -- and possibly unknowable at the time -- variables all affect the manner in which the probe will impact Earth (spinning, tumbling, rolling, "side-on-stable", etc.), it is clear that only chance, and not good engineering design effort, prevents the true worst-case scenario.
So what would THAT be like? DOE isn't saying. DOE should say.
Another thing missing, is an exact calculation of the effect of plutonium not just on the average American White Adult Male, which even there they don't provide in any easy-to-decipher format, but also they should state what the effect of that same amount of plutonium (238, 239, etc.) would be on infants, on the elderly, the infirm (such as, especially, AIDS patients, those already on Chemo for other cancers, etc.). There are, at any one time scattered around Earth, approximately 100,000,000 infants (<1 year) out of a general population of some 6 billion wonderful, living, breathing souls. These "souls" each might have something to contribute to society. The loss of even one of them, and also, the loss of that one's chance to serve mankind, is intolerable, if that loss can be stopped.
Here is a case where a potential loss of millions of us can be stopped, and at no cost or loss. The 1981 D. E. Rockey JPL report, which was utterly misused in the aforementioned 1995 Cassini EIS from NASA, indicated not only that for the Galileo mission to Jupiter solar would have worked fine, it additionally stated that it would have been cheaper. So clearly, the risk of a great loss of humanity to an (admittedly unlikely) accident is intolerable, precisely (if for no other reason) because it is unnecessary. Sure, NASA might not get to do one or two missions for a while, until they come up with alternatives. But so what? There is no shortage of missions, there is perhaps a shortage of money -- but who can blame THE PEOPLE for not wanting to fund NASA's shenanigans, what with all the misrepresentations of the previous EIS's that have come out? Thus I recommend, that in the future, the complete truth be told in each EIS, with color photographs showing what a leukemia death looks like, and what a cancer looks like, and quality "3-D" graphics of which NASA is usually so capable, showing the various severities of accidents plotted against their likelihood (instead of just a verbal summation of that data).
The documents should cover the odds, and then talk about the consequences. Or vice-versa. But both facts need explaining, and neither have graced any EIS I have seen.
What DOE proposes is, in short, an assault against humanity, for the purpose of world domination by a tiny subset of a once-great country which has lost its aim and its democratic guidance. DOE is attempting to dupe the American people, the people of a peaceful and kind nation of decent humans who are most interested in preserving our way of life for our children and our children's children. (For instance, we do not wage war, we merely defend against it.) It is in the cheap guise of a minor scientific research project or two, hand in hand with NASA, but in fact those scientists involved are mostly dupes themselves of a far more sinister and devious plot.
I believe everything I have written here to be well documented truths. DOE is not pulling the wool over anyone's eyes, but they are certainly pretending to themselves that they have done so.
Russell D. Hoffman
STOP CASSINI newsletter, now in its 84th issue
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