STOP CASSINI Newsletter #142 -- June 22nd, 1999 (late edition)

Copyright (c) 1999

STOP CASSINI Newsletters Index

To: Subscribers, Press, Government Officials

Subject: Astronomy Magazine claims I'm jumping the gun: STOP CASSINI #142

Date: June 22nd, 1999 (late edition)

Time Frame: Cassini must be redirected towards Venus TODAY or TOMORROW!

Today's Subjects:

(1) A letter from Tracy Staedter, Astronomy magazine

In issue #140 we presented a letter we had sent to ASTRONOMY magazine. We received this response:


At 09:42 AM 6/22/99 -0500, Tracy Staedter wrote:
X-Sender: (Unverified)
Mime-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit
Date: Tue, 22 Jun 1999 09:42:39 -0500
To: "Russell D. Hoffman" (by way of Dave Bruning)
From: (Tracy Staedter)
Subject: Re: Red Herrings
X-UIDL: ccc85059e8d38e4393835ba9dfa84180

Mr. Hoffman

I'm not sure how you can criticize an article in Astronomy that you have not yet read. The article specifically addresses the misconception raised by activists that Cassini will pose a nuclear threat when it flies by Earth this August. Author David Grinspoon provides sound evidence for why the fly by will occur safely and why anyone worried about it should just relax. If you still have concerns after you actually read the article, please feel free to send a letter to the editor. We would appreciate your comments.


----- MY RESPONSE -----

Dear Tracy Staedter,

Thank you for your letter. You should know that NASA relies on three corners of a deadly triangle to pass Cassini off as safe. When one corner gets too hot, they switch to another.

If David Grinspoon wanted to provide NEW "sound evidence" for how 72.3 pounds of plutonium dioxide on board Cassini is safer than one or at most two solar-powered missions, then he might have something. But where would he get such evidence? CERTAINLY NOT FROM NASA's own documents! NASA's documents do NOT support NASA's assertions!

How does Grinspoon try to explain how you can "safely" fly 72.3 pounds of plutonium dioxide past Earth? Which of the three corners does he run to?

The containment system? NASA's own numbers say it is imperfect (see page 4-51 of the 1995 EIS for the Cassini mission, for example). Does Grinspoon's article accept the idea that IF there is a re-entry, there WILL be a release? If not, the article makes assumptions even NASA does not really dare to make, if you read their fine print.

The route (height of the flyby)? is that where his comfort level rises from? NASA just showed a MAJOR flub in it's ability to control a spacecraft (the ISS). There is many a slip possible. The probe could go dead tomorrow, and if it does, in NASA's own words, (1995 EIS, page B-4) the probe would be left in an orbit which would "tend" to be in the vicinity of ours. If that happens the containment system could, over time, become brittle and useless (NASA admits this is untested on page 4-104). So is that 1173 km what Grinspoon relies on to proclaim Cassini safe? If so, he is ignoring the long-term reentry possibilities completely.

Or does he rely on the third angle, the one where, if everything goes wrong, if the probe DOES reenter Earth's atmosphere and DOES release plutonium, NASA assures humans that, despite there being HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS of deadly doses of plutonium, it will all just spread out so thin that "only" 120 people will die? The number has been argued by Dr. Sternglass, Dr. Gofman, and even by other government reports! But does Grinspoon buy it?

Unless he has invented something new to argue with, one of these three triangles HAS TO be the main one that Grinspoon relies on for comfort -- which one is it?

If ASTRONOMY had wanted to produce a fair article, they could have interviewed the opposition and allowed us to answer his statements in the same issue. BUT NO. I doubt Grinspoon contacted many people in the opposition and if he had, do tell how he missed contacting me? Did NASA give him the names of the opposition persons? Does his article mention the actual names of the opposing persons, and the views they specifically hold? Or does it paint us in general pictures only? Does his article include links to the opposition web sites, such as mine, which is easily the #1 site in opposition to Cassini?

YOU claim the activists have a misconception. So that means YOU should be capable of arguing FOR Cassini a well -- so which of these three legs of the triangle do you rest comfortably believing? That it won't reenter Earth's atmosphere? That if it does there won't be a release anyway? Or that if it does, and if there is a release, hardly anyone will get hurt?

I have described the actual misconceptions that NASA and its followers (such as Grinspoon) have. I hope you're eyes are wide open enough now, that you have some glimpse of how it is possible, despite not having seen the article, to know in a general sense that it will be unfair. For if Grinspoon has "sound evidence" it will HAVE TO BE something that NASA never thought of, because NONE OF THEIR EVIDENCE IS SOUND.

When the article comes out, you can mark my words: I'll tear it to shreds in my newsletter. Grinspoon will owe me and my readers a logical explanation AND an apology. But I won't expect it: if he had any real nerve, he would have contacted me already to ensure his article really answered our objections.

Russell D. Hoffman
STOP CASSINI NEWSLETTER now in its 141st issue



At 01:42 PM 6/22/99 -0500, Tracy Staedter wrote:
Date: Tue, 22 Jun 1999 13:42:17 -0500
To: "Russell D. Hoffman"
From: (Tracy Staedter)
Subject: Re: Red Herrings
X-UIDL: d1573020bf053900f8c4da670e8f50a4

I will forward your email to our editor. But I strongly urge you to read his article and then comment, for I believe it will make a great addition to our Talking Back column. Thanks.

Tracy Staedter
Associate Editor
Astronomy Magazine
21027 Crossroads Circle
Waukesha WI 53186

phone: (414) 796-8776 x635
fax: (414) 798-6468
web site:


----- MY RESPONSE -----


Don't worry -- I will!




(2) Nukes and Y2K: A primer

Here are the facts:

1) Y2K is real. There WILL be problems of some sort or other. The only question is how bad, not whether anything will go wrong.

2) Nuclear power plants are vulnerable to offsite power outages.

3) Diesel generators on site at the nuclear power plants have had a variety of reliability problems which have come to light recently.

For more information, an excellent place to start is THREE MILE ISLAND ALERT. The following information is from their home page:

----- from -----

Y2K Nuclear Power Plant Defects in the United States

Worst Case Scenario -- Station Blackout

* electrical grid failure causes reactor scram
* emergency diesel generators at the nuclear plant fail
* electrical grid or diesels are not restored rapidly
* batteries which power the control room are depleted
* operators lose control of the reactor(s)
* spent fuel pools begin to boil dry
* radiological releases or meltdowns occur
* no sirens to warn the citizens
* poor or weakened communications
* poor or severe weather conditions (snow or ice
* storm) make evacuating difficult
* one-hundred-thousand dead and dying
* trillions of dollars lost
* land unviable for decades



"The complete loss of AC electrical power to the essential and nonessential switchgear buses in a nuclear power plant is referred to as a "Station Blackout." Because many safety systems required for reactor core decay heat removal are dependent on AC power, the consequences of a station blackout could be a severe core damage accident."

from NRC Station Blackout Description "An outage in one part of the grid can cascade causing ripple effects on other parts of the grid. For example, a generation plant could go out in Maine, affecting power in Florida."

US Special Senate Committee;
February 24 , 1999

----- END CLIP FROM -----

(3) Obituary: Karl Z. Morgan A brilliant physicist

Here is a much more balanced obituary for Dr. Karl Z. Morgan than the one which appeared in "the newspaper of record" for the United States, The New York Times:


7 Obituary: Karl Morgan A brilliant physicist
on the Manhattan project, he spent his later years warning
America about the dangers of nuclear radiation

The Guardian

Karl Morgan, who has died aged 91, was a pioneer of health physics - the science of the effect of exposure to radiation on health. He was a member of the research group which laid the foundations for the Manhattan project and produced the first atomic bomb. However, after 30 years in the inner cabinet of the nuclear establishment, Morgan changed sides and testified in key radiation cases on behalf of those who claimed they had been harmed by nuclear weapons and the nuclear power industry.

The first signs of his change of view came in 1968, when he became an influential campaigner in obtaining a US law that required the medical profession to control excessive doses of radiation during X- rays.

After retirement in 1972 he became more active in drawing attention to the limitations of radiation protection measures. In particular, he gave evidence in the suit brought by the family of the nuclear whistleblower Karen Silkwood, who died in a car accident in mysterious circumstances in 1974.

In October 1982, Morgan testified in a lawsuit brought by nearly 1,200 people who accused the US government of negligence in atomic weapons testing in Nevada in the 1950s, which they claimed had caused leukaemia and other cancers. He said that radiation protection measures in the tests were substandard and `not in the spirit" of what was known at the time about the health hazards of radiation. He also spoke on behalf of Navajo uranium miners and their survivors in a case alleging that US government officials had known about mine radiation dangers but had failed to protect the miners.

In September 1994, Morgan was a key witness in a remarkable US government inquiry which documented radiation experiments that had used human subjects. The study was called an oral history project, and entitled Human Radiation Studies: Remembering The Early Years. Thirty interviews were conducted with scientists who had first-hand knowledge of human radiation experimentation and therapy during the second world war and the cold war, or knew the context in which they had taken place.

Karl Morgan was born in Enochsville, North Carolina. He graduated with degrees in physics and mathematics from the University of North Carolina. In 1934, he obtained his PhD for research into cosmic radiation from [*][ Duke University ] , North Carolina. He began his career as a physics professor but in 1943 was recruited to become a senior scientist in health physics to the top secret, atomic bomb project codenamed Manhattan Engineer District.

The following year, Morgan went to the newly-formed Oak Ridge national laboratory in Tennessee, where he became director of health physics from 1944 until his retirement. When told he would be in the health physics group, he was shocked and said it was a terrible mistake because he had never heard of health physics. The leaders of the research project said they had been in the same position. But they realized that since their attempts to build the first atomic pile, now known as a reactor, would create a source of intense radiation, they needed to understand how to protect people. Morgan was reminded that the known cases of occupational cancers were from contamination with traces of radium among workers who put the luminescent paint on the dials of clocks and instruments. At that time, the world's stocks of radium amounted to no more than two pounds. Morgan was told that the research group was going to build piles in which the intensity of radiation was to be many billions of times higher.

These monster piles were to be surrounded with concrete, six feet or more thick, and Morgan was to work with the group to discover if this would protect people on the outside. He wrote in his autobiography, The Angry Genie: One Man's Walk Through The Nuclear Age, that he did not believe they had ever determined that it was safe. `We determined what we considered was acceptable."

Morgan's support for those claiming to have suffered the effects of radiation exposure surprised some of his colleagues. His faith in nuclear power had seemed unswerving. In the first issue of Health Physics, in 1954, he wrote: `We believe that the nuclear age is here to stay and that its future rests in large measure on the successful control of radiation exposure. We must understand the full and ultimate consequences of this exposure and limit it at a level where we, and those that come after us, can reap the maximum benefits of this new age."

Morgan is survived by his wife, Helen, two sons and two daughters.

Karl Ziegler Morgan, physicist, born September 27, 1907; died June 8, 1999



(4) Leaving Earth: What you need to bring:

Leaving town for a while? Bring your toothbrush. Leaving Earth? You'll need a whole lot more than that. If and when it happens, it will happen by "cocooning" a little bit of Earth and taking it away. This is the place that it all starts with. This is the central outfitter, the resupply station, the mothership. You must love Earth before you can possibly hope to survive away from it.

(5) Quote of the Day by Mohatma Gandhi

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, and then you win." -- Mahatma Gandhi

(6) What you can do today to stop the Cassini flyby of Earth:

To stop NASA's dangerous upcoming August 17th (note new date!), 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 contacting NASA/JPL immediately and tell them you oppose Cassini:

Cassini Public Information
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Pasadena CA 91109
(818) 354-5011 or
(818) 354-6478

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!

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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