STOP CASSINI Newsletter #125 -- May 12th, 1999

Copyright (c) 1999

STOP CASSINI Newsletters Index

To: Subscribers, Press, Government Officials

Subject: Dr. Helen Caldicott's speech at NASA Ames Research Center -- STOP CASSINI #125

Date: May 12th, 1999

Time Frame: There are 43 days left until the flyby of Venus, 7 weeks before the flyby of Earth.

Today's subjects:

Dr. Helen Caldicott's speech at NASA Ames Research Center

Dr. Helen Caldicott was invited by employees at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA to speak on Earth Day, April 22, 1999. The speech began with Dr. Caldicott's more general discussion of the relevant issues -- environmental, political, and personal, and then she began to talk directly about Cassini. We have been given a cassette of the speech and have transcribed that portion for our readers, and Dr. Caldicott has kindly checked our transcript and given us permission to publish the speech here.

----- Dr. Helen Caldicott, Earth Day, 1999 (Space Exploration/Cassini portion) -----

I suppose I should talk a little bit about -- I want to mention Y2K in a minute, and the nuclear area but I also need to talk about NASA I'm afraid, because -- you know, I know you explore space and that's good and Carl Sagan was a very close friend of mine and I've always been fascinated by the planets myself, but I do object to 72.3 pounds of plutonium 238 being launched over our heads on the Titan IV and the Delta -- was it a Delta? Two damned dangerous rockets -- and one of them had an accident just after they launched Cassini -- I object to that.

And you know, you can do all the calculations, which are all based on probabilities and statistics -- but you don't really know! It's like in medicine -- we can, you know, you can come in with leukemia and I can say, "Well, you've got Hairy Cell Leukemia, which is pretty malignant, um -- your prognosis might be six months. But I might be wrong, you could die in a month. I don't know. I'm not God. And all estimates are based on probabilities -- as we know as scientists -- and we don't really know what's going to happen. And when it comes back and it swings by we still don't know what's going to happen ... if any of the vectors are off by a fraction of a degree we could have an "Apollo 13". Will it burn up? I don't know. You probably don't either. You can estimate, but you don't know how much plutonium could be released.

Well, it's not a lot of plutonium when you think about -- Philip Morrison told me, who was in the Manhattan project, they released about four tons of plutonium to the atmosphere during weapons testing days, and it's still falling out, no it's not so much, although 238 is about 280 times more toxic than 239 because it's got a much shorter half life and it's VERY carcinogenic. But every male in the northern hemisphere has a small amount of plutonium in his gonads and his testicles from fallout days. The incidents of testicular cancer is rising -- for sure.

And what that means to future generations when the sperm are irradiated by alpha particles -- we don't really know, but it might be like the drosophila fruit fly. That is not medically indicated. And I come back again to biology. Alpha particles are HIGHLY mutagenic. Plutonium -- YOU KNOW -- described by Nobel Laureate Dr. Glenn Seaborg who developed it -- as the most toxic substance known. And 238, more than 239.


And I don't care how much you have to explore space! Because know what? We're killing the Earth right now. We're killing it. And I know it's fun to explore space, and science is terribly interesting. But you know we MAY on be the only planet in the universe with life. Well, we found another solar system maybe it's not -- we don't know. But RIGHT NOW, we have something that's INORDINATELY PRECIOUS. Which we're destroying. And shouldn't we be spending the money -- and I'm just being philosophical now, I'm not really challenging you -- but shouldn't we be spending the money fixing the problems here before we do that? And shouldn't we be DAMNED CAREFUL that we're not going to damage the Creation, and the genes of future generations of plants and animals, by doing these experiments?

Then, I'm worried about NASA and its relationship with the Air Force. I'm worried about that, because NASA is mapping the planets for rare minerals now and I know that. And the asteroids, and the moon, and they want to put nuclear reactors up there to maybe mine these rare minerals and bring them back, and who will pay for it? The taxpayers. Who gets the profit? Probably the corporations. And because it takes a lot of money to put nuclear reactors up there, now the Air Force says that America has to DOMINATE SPACE.


Is it five percent of the Earth's population, the American population? We don't like that! And now they're talking about Star Wars, which Clinton has started to fund, which will probably violate the ABM treaty which will make the Russians really cross! You don't want to make the Russians cross because all their bombs are targeted on you! And we may have orbiting hydrogen bombs in space. You know -- that's Edward Teller's dream, the father of the hydrogen bomb. But that's going ahead and being funded now. Great for Universities to do research in it. Probably great for NASA or the Air Force or whatever. But the Air Force -- So the Air Force wants to take its nuclear war into space, not on Earth. Maybe they can do both! That would be exciting.

This is similar to the law of the sea. Elliot Richardson took years and years to negotiate the law of the sea so everyone has access to minerals on the floor of the sea and then America said "No, we want to dominate the sea" and they didn't sign it.

That's arrogance beyond belief! And we don't want to be looking up at OUR STARS and the Southern Cross star maybe and say "Oh, there's an orbiting hydrogen bomb up there!" I mean, I'm being semi-facetious, but you know what I'm talking about. So the juxtaposition and the correlation of NASA with the Air Force is "not on!" I wouldn't trust the Air Force as far as I could kick 'em! NASA has some good motives. Exploration. But not putting nuclear reactors up there to mine the minerals on other planets or the moon or asteroids -- I mean, I think that's a very big philosophical question that the WHOLE EARTH -- all the people of the planet need to be engaged in, not a few people making decisions for all of us. So that's how I feel about that, and I don't want you to launch more exploration things with more plutonium, and I don't know how many more you're going to do in the next ten years but I hear its about ten, I might be off by you know, one or two, and I hear you're going to tone down your plutonium, not have so much, how much you gonna have? It's NOT ON!

People don't like it! IT'S OUR EARTH TOO!

And however much you want to explore, it's OUR earth too and we have to have a say -- PARTICULARLY the physicians because WE care for the people with cancer. And it's not a pretty sight to see someone die of Cancer.


Dr. Caldicott concluded with a more general (and VITAL) discussion of Y2K/nuclear issues. More information about those issues is available at her web site:

While NASA says that their containment system for the plutonium is "wholly reliable and totally foolproof" (Woody Smith, NASA HQ, in a recent letter to an activist), their own Environmental Impact Statement for the Cassini Mission clearly indicates that the RTGs have a 3%, 33% or even a 66% or more (up to 100%) chance of failure (and very little chance of 0% failure) in a reentry accident, and the RHUs (Radioactive Heater Units) with 2.7 grams of plutonium each on them (there are about 130 of them on board Cassini) have a "conditional probability of 1.0" of being vaporized in a reentry accident. In NASA-speak, that means they will incinerate. Regarding the RTG's, NASA managed to lower the EXPECTED release from about 33% in the 1995 EIS to just 3% for the 1997 EIS by simply coming to the conclusion that, should the probe reenter Earth's atmosphere, we will be lucky in that it will be tumbling "just so", so as to minimize the EXPECTED release over other manners of tumbling! That's a marvelous "scientific method" they're using to save us, eh?!?

On a more unfortunate note (unfortunate since he is not here to correct himself or defend himself) although I too admire much about the late Dr. Sagan, he in fact wrote a seriously flawed "apology" for one of the previous plutonium-packed missions, which was trotted out by the pro-Cassini NASA/JPL rocketeers as "proof" that everything was "A-OK" with Cassini. We discussed his prognostication regarding the Galileo launch, and some of the many things that are different now which might have caused him to reconsider his stance, way back in newsletter #49, but of course, no one at NASA listened:

(Dr. Caldicott indicated in a letter to this editor that she complained directly to her friend Dr. Sagan about his famous "apology" for NASA.)

Lastly, the original version of this speech gave the difference between Pu 238 and Pu 239 as about 80 times worse, not 280 times worse, for Pu 238. We contacted Dr. Caldicott about this and in a subsequent email from Dr. Caldicott, she agreed that the correct value should indeed be 280.

We would like to thank Dr. Caldicott for all she does, and for all the alarms (Nukes, Y2K, Global Warming, etc.) she sounds. A klaxon of truth, she is. After listening to Dr. Caldicott, I should think that NASA employees would question their assumptions that:

-- rdh (with a little help from his friends)

BBC NEWS report: Further confirmation of D.U. use in Balkans

----- FROM: -----

Tuesday, May 11, 1999 Published at 18:24 GMT 19:24 UK


Pentagon's man in uranium warning

A-10 tankbuster: They are now firing DU weapons over Kosovo

By Environment Correspondent Alex Kirby

As debate intensifies over the use of depleted uranium (DU) weapons in the Balkan conflict, a former Pentagon adviser has come out against them.

He is Dr Doug Rokke, a US health physicist who led the DU clean-up in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq immediately after the Gulf War.

In 1994, Dr Rokke, an Army Reserve captain, was appointed director of the Pentagon's DU project, a job he left in 1997.

He helped develop an education and training programme, and conducted tests on DU explosives in the Nevada desert.

The Pentagon has confirmed that A-10 aircraft are using DU rounds in the war with Serbia.

[ ....... clip ...... ]

A senior officer of the US Defense Nuclear Agency said in 1991 that radiation from fragments and intact DU rounds was "a serious health threat". He said there was "a possible exposure rate of 200 millirems per hour on contact".

"The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's maximum limit ... is 100 millirems per year."

----- END OF CLIP FROM BBC NEWS MAY 11TH, 1999 -----

It should again be noted that Depleted Uranium is used in other than in A-10 Warthog "tank-buster" bullets:

It is used in helicopter rotor blades, Tomahawk missile control surfaces, penetrators, and counterweights, and many pounds are also used in fighter planes and other implements of war including as shielding for allied tanks -- and who-knows-what-else. Thus the total D.U. left in Iraq was probably double the 300 to 400 tons accounted for just by the A-10's bullets. Despite their reluctant acknowledgement of D. U. use in Warthog ordinance, the military continues to ignore other uses of D. U. in the hopes that we will ignore it too!

More detailed information on actual quantities of D. U. being used:

This was seen in RADBULL:

----- CLIP FROM: -----

The public at large both in UK and in Yugoslavia are unaware that 30 mm bullets being fired by A-10 anti-tank aircraft and probably all Tomahawk Cruise missiles in this action contain depleted uranium (DU).

The development of these radioactive weapons is based on the fact that uranium (atomic mass 238) is much denser than lead (atomic mass 207) and therefore its kinetic energy is sufficient to penetrate tank armour or concrete buildings more effectively than lead prior to detonation. The design of the bullet is to incorporate a long thin cylinder of DU housed in a plastic sheath or "sabot". This means in turn that the very small leading edge of the bullet pierces with maximum impact. The same principle is used in Tomahawk Cruise missiles with the aim of piercing concrete obstructions rather than metal.

The bullets were used in the Gulf War and some 1 million of them still lie in the deserts of that region where subsequently the incidence of leukaemias cancer and birth defects have risen sharply as a consequence of the ensuing environmental radiation. The amount of DU scattered around the Gulf war zone is given as 350 tonnes but including the nose cones of Cruise missiles and helicopter rotors the figure is nearer 750 tonnes. This is 27 TBequerels of radioactivity one fiftieth of the total alpha releases from Sellafield over its entire operating history. The same is happening in Bosnia where DU was also employed. Some 80 000 US Gulf War veterans now suffer from the so-called Gulf War syndrome whose symptoms are identical to radiation sickness. The US military are well aware of this and are on record as confirming 2.5mGy/hr at the surface of a DU shell a dose equivalent to a chest X-ray per hour. Each A-10 Thunderbolt 30mm cannon anti tank shell contains some 275g (10.1 Bq). A single 120mm Abrams tank DU shell contains 3kg of U-238 (111 MBq) of activity.

----- END OF CLIP -----

Letter to Indian Ambassador to the United States:



Ambassador to America
Embassy of India
2107 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20008
Tel: (202) 939-7000 Fax: (202) 265-4351

From: Russell D. Hoffman, Peace Activist, Environmentalist

Re: The Effects of Nuclear Weapons

Date: May 12th, 1999

I hope that your country will tell me that its citizens were unaware of the effects of nuclear weapons as described below, and that India will renounce her consideration of the use of nuclear weapons, and demolish her ability to commit such a sin against humanity.

At least I hope you will translate this document into as many languages as necessary for it to be distributed among your people.

Thank you in advance for your consideration of these important matters.


Russell D. Hoffman

Attachment: SC Newsletter #123


More of Admiral Hyman Rickover's statements about nuclear power

In the previous newsletter ( #124 ) we included a quote from Admiral Rickover, considered universally to be the "father of the nuclear navy". We received this response from one of our readers:

----- INCOMING EMAIL -----

Date: Mon, 10 May 1999 22:58:09 -0500 (CDT)
To: To:
Subject: Fwd: President Carter, Admiral Rickover Cover-Up of 3 Mile Island

------Begin forward message-------------------------


Subject: President Carter, Admiral Rickover Cover-Up of 3 Mile Island

The following statement was signed by Jane Rickover, daughter-in-law of Admiral Hyman Rickover, "father" of the nuclear navy. It was notarized by William Lamson July 18, 1986. I have spoken with Jane Rickover a number of times. She has verified the authenticity of the document and the events described in it.

"In May, 1983, my father-in-law, Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, told me that at the time of the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor accident, a full report was commissioned by President Jimmy Carter. He [my father-in-law] said that the report, if published in its entirety, would have destroyed the civilian nuclear power industry because the accident at Three Mile Island was infinitely more dangerous than was ever made public. he told me that he had used his enormous personal influence with President Carter to persuade him to publish the report only in a highly "diluted" form. The President himself had originally wished the full report to be made public.

In November, 1985, my father-in-law told me that he had come to deeply regret his action in persuading President Carter to suppress the most alarming aspects of that report.

[Signed] Jane Rickover
Jane Rickover

Jane Rickover appeared before me and swore as to the truth of the above statement.

Dated at Toronto this 18th day of July A.D. 1986

{Signed] William F. Lamson
William F. Lamson Q.C.
Notary Public for the Province of Ontario

------End forward message---------------------------


Thank you, it's an honor to be here

Item 19 in the Nuclear Weapons Contents area of RadBull on 5/10/99 was our EFFECTS OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS statement presented in newsletter #123. Roger Herried's title is certainly better than our original title. We admit, it was pretty graphic.

05/10/99 **** RADIATION BULLETIN(RADBULL) **** VOL 7.101



2 Hunt is on for nuclear waste site
4 U.S. Uranium Industry Annual 1998 available
5 K2/R4 sign-on


2 Radioactive bullets revive old concerns
4 Top Secret but Easily Stolen
5 Report Exposes Extent of China's Nuclear Espionage
6 Statement by Suspect's Lawyer: He Assisted FBI
7 Reno Announces Review Panel In China Spying Case
8 China: Friends and Spies
9 FEATURE-Poverty spurs deadly trade at N-test range
10 Nukes Haven't Given India Security
11 India Flays 'Imperialist' Nuclear Qualms
12 ANALYSIS-Politics halts thaw in India's diplomacy
13 Pakistan Plans Nuclear Celebrations
14 Gov't Arrests Pakistan Journalist
15 Belarus Keeping Nuclear Facilities
16 Report Recommends Sanctions on Nuclear-Testing States
17 Ted Turner: Nuclear War in Future
18 Rocky Flats neighbors eye cleanup
20 [DOEWatch] "Radioactive bullets revive old concerns"
21 Forwarded: De-Alerting Call In.

----- END OF CLIP FROM RADBULL, MAY 10TH, 1999 -----


To stop NASA's dangerous upcoming August 18th, 1999 flyby of Earth by NASA's Cassini spacecraft, with its deadly cargo of 72.3 pounds of plutonium 238 dioxide, arrogantly launched in 1997 amidst strong protests, please start by asking NASA for the 1995 Environmental Impact Statement for the Cassini Mission and all subsequent related documents. Tell them you need it IMMEDIATELY (members of the world press should do this too). All citizens of the world are ENTITLED to these documents because of the global threat Cassini poses. Here's where to get information:

Cassini Public Information
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Pasadena CA 91109
(818) 354-5011

NASA states that they do not have the resources anymore to answer most emails they receive. Liars! They have $13 billion dollars to play with. They can answer the public's questions. At least, ask them one specific question: How many letters did they get opposing Cassini today? (And tell them you oppose it too!) If each reader asks them that...

Here's NASA's "comments" email address:

Daniel Goldin is the head of NASA. Here's his email address: or

Here's the NASA URL to find additional addresses to submit written questions to:


Be sure to "cc" the president and VP and your senators and congresspeople, too.

Always include your full name and postal address in all correspondence to any Government official of any country.

After you have acquainted yourself with what NASA is doing, please:



CANCEL CASSINI by JUNE 24th, 1999!

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