From: Russell David Hoffman, very concerned citizen
Re: With friends like this, our cause is unstoppable: STOP CASSINI #203
Date: October 6th, 1999
"There can be no democracy without truth, no justice without mercy, and no nuclear dispersals without ill consequences."
This issue's subjects:
Jonathan Mark prepared an excellent statement for the upcoming scoping meeting to be held by DoE (Death of the Earth Squad) in various cities around the country. Here is that statement, plus our own comments added:
U. S. Citizen
October 4th, 1999 [Note: This letter contains a slightly corrected version of my own comments written last January. -- rdh, resent Oct. 6th, 1999]
Dear Ms Brown,
I wish to add my voice to that of Jonathan Mark's (shown below) in opposing ANY continued creation of plutonium power sources for NASA, the military, or any other purpose.
Please consider everything Jonathan has written, and in addition, please consider my earlier comments which I published online in STOP CASSINI newsletter #84, January 4th, 1999 and have reprinted below.
Additional scientific, moral, spiritual, humanitarian and statistical reasons why DoE should drop the "demon hot atom" from its arsenal are given throughout my 200+ issues of my newsletter.
(full contact information appears below)
Office of Nuclear Energy,
Science and Technology (NE-50),
U.S. Department of Energy,
19901 Germantown Road,
Germantown, Maryland 20874
Re: U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) intent to prepare a programmatic
environmental impact statement (PEIS) for accomplishing expanded civilian
nuclear energy research and development and isotope production missions in
the United States, including the role of the Fast Flux Test Facility.
October 4, 1999
Dear Ms. Brown:
Thank you for your reply to my telephone call last week. This letter is my written statement regarding the DOE's consideration in preparing the Nuclear Infrastructure PEIS.
To be very simple and straightforward I want to be on the record for opposing any consideration of expanding the development of production of Plutonium-238. Recently the Earth flyby of the Cassini space probe threatened life on Earth with the possibility of dispersing 400,000 curies of radioactive Plutonium into our atmosphere. Fortunately the mission went by Earth without a catastrophic incident, but if we keep taking chances with isotopes that are toxic and known to cause mutations and cancers in living cells (remaining harmful for many generations), we will continue threatening life in an unprecedented way by our shortsightedness and disregard for the health of life on Earth.
Please use the information on the website from the Action Site to Stop Cassini Earth Flyby. It is posted at http://www.nonviolence.org/noflyby . You are invited to download the NoFlyby website as part of my statement and can use http://www.bluesquirrel.com/products/grabasite/grabasite.html to grab an entire web site to your hard drive. At the end of this letter I will list a few critical references from this website, in case you cannot review the whole site.
One of the most significant findings in the last few years about the potential harm by dangerous radioactive isotopes is by the work of Hei, et all. In a letter by Dr. John Gofman's May 11, 1999 letter, posted at http://www.ratical.org/radiation/CNR/LetterOfConcern.html , he wrote, "..By any reasonable standard of biomedical proof, there is no safe dose, which means that just one decaying radioactive atom can produce permanent mutation in a cell's genetic molecules. My own work showed this in 1990 for xrays, gamma rays, and beta particles (Gofman 1990: Radiation-Induced Cancer from Low-Dose Exposure). For alpha particles, the logic of no safe dose was confirmed experimentally in 1997 by Tom K. Hei and co-workers at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) Vol.94, pp.3765-3770, April 1997, 'Mutagenic Effects of a Single and an Exact Number of Alpha Particles in Mammalian Cells')."
This information and new findings by many scientist studying the disproportionate harm of low level radiation show that the currently accepted internal dosimetry models presented in the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) Publication 30 and the radiation health effects' estimator for the induction of fatal cancers as outlined in ICRP Publication 60, both of which are accepted by the national and international radiation protection communities, are inaccurate, limited and misleading. Based on the findings of Hei, et all, and other analyses, such as the "Baby Tooth Project" [see www.radiation.org ] I urge you to conduct new investigations on the disproportionate harm that could come from low level radiation, and until those investigations are complete, to stop the use and development of plutonium in space programs.
Plutonium radioactive isotopes are relatively new. They have only been developed in the last sixty years, initiated by the fear that Germany would produce the first atomic bomb during World War II. This is very little time compared to these substances long-term toxicity to generations of human beings and our environment. The scientific standards that you are using today in measuring the possible harm of low level plutonium radioactive isotopes are most likely inaccurate. Yet, knowing that the U.S. military has strong interests in using plutonium for space-based weaponry, knowing that NASA and DOE operates with the military on the development of nuclear space programs, it is practical to assume the close involvement with these agencies in the development of plutonium for the nuclear space program. This is why I am not only suggesting a "No Action" alternative to where no domestic capability to produce Plutonium-238 for future space missions would be established by the DOE, but I am also strongly encouraging that the DOE supports the stopping of all development and use of dangerous Plutonium isotopes.
Your support of a "No Action" alternative would be a step in the correct direction in the consideration for life and the future of life on Earth. By stopping these programs, I am confident that the DOE, NASA and the U.S. military could find other ways to explore our heavens, benefit humanity and protect life. Please contact me, if I can assist you further in such beneficial transformative directions. We can either change the direction, which was initiated by the threatening past, by intelligence and concern for life, or we may learn by the way of the dinosaurs and shortsightedness. Please help stop the nuclear space program for the regard of human life and the children not yet born.
For important references see:
Radiation and Public Health Project, Inc.'s status report of the Baby Teeth
"No Safe Dose "- a Letter of Concern by Dr. John W. Gofman
Landmines at the cellular level
Bart Jordan Commentary on ancient civilizations and development of dangerous
NoFlyby Newsletter No. 19
Note: This author (Russell D. Hoffman) has not studied the comments of "Bart Jordan" linked to above in Jonathan's letter, but wishes you to pay close attention to those of Dr. John W. Gofman, whose credentials are described briefly in STOP CASSINI newsletters #24 and #25:
The next item is my own letter to you of January 4th, 1999, which I would also like entered into the public record for the current PEIS:
To: "Colette Brown" Colette.Brown@HQ.DOE.GOV
From: "Russell D. Hoffman" email@example.com
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 GPHS "heat shields " 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 [the late] 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. [Note: I now believe it would be more correct to say that more commonly, it tears apart molecules inside the cell producing what are known as "free radicals", and it is these "free radicals" which damage the DNA. The actual mechanism, however, is of secondary importance to the effect. -- rdh, comment added Oct. 6th, 1999]
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 Pu 239 particle 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.
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 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 even 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 Ulysses 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 global 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 [in it's 203rd issue as of October 6th, 1999]
STOP CASSINI website:
Many of the issues presented by Russell Hoffman in this letter are based on conversations with Dr. John W. Gofman (who isolated the first working quantities of plutonium), the late Dr. Karl Z. Morgan (who was known as the "father of health physics"), Dr. Ernest Sternglass (a noted epidemiologist who has done statistical studies about Low Level Radiation dangers), Dr. Jay Gould (ditto), Dr. Horst Poehler, Dr. Helen Caldicott, Dr. Ross Wilcock and dozens of activists, as well as many others on both sides of the nuclear debates, including ex military nuke expert Jack Shannon (responsible for the design of the D2G Navy reactor, the most widely used reactor in the U. S. navy), award-winning investigative reporter Karl Grossman, ecologist and human rights advocate Pamela Blockey-O'Brien, etc. Also, I've read a few dozen books on the various subjects. And scads of government documents purporting to explain how something so dangerous can be safe. Professionally, my pump training software is used throughout the pump industry and even in some nuclear power plants around the world to train their staff about mechanical pumps. Any errors herein are regrettably my own, but I believe it would take an extremely unlikely preponderance of errors to invalidate my basic position on these issues.
Russell D. Hoffman, Carlsbad, California, Peace Activist, Environmentalist, High Tech Guru:
Hoffman's Y2K Preparedness Information:
Learn about The Effects of Nuclear War here:
** THE ANIMATED SOFTWARE COMPANY
** Russell D. Hoffman, Owner and Chief Programmer
** Carlsbad CA
** Visit the world's most eclectic web site:
Date: Wed, 06 Oct 1999 02:12:00 -0400
From: Maggie Mandzuk firstname.lastname@example.org
To: President William Clinton email@example.com
CC: Vice-President Albert Gore firstname.lastname@example.org,
Hillary Clinton email@example.com,
Daniel Goldin firstname.lastname@example.org,
"Russell D. Hoffman" email@example.com
Subject: A Plea for True Peace
To President William Clinton:
This is to bring to your attention that millions of people worldwide are against the use of plutonium in space and on earth for *any* purpose at all. I don't know how many people read Russell D. Hoffman's 'Stop Cassini' Newsletter, but I know that you and many heads of government and of NASA receive it. Since I started receiving it (just before the Earth Fly-by), I have lost any trust in the US government and NASA that I may have had left in me - that these institutions would listen to the people's voices and act peaceably for a safe and healthy future on earth.
I have started to watch the news media differently now, and subscribe to several internet newsletters that observe & research how the world's governments are manipulating us, hand in hand with military productions systems (especially) and also with energy & technology development. My hope is that the truths of our silenced voices will soon ring loud & clear, and that you will join us in our quest for *true* peace on earth & in space (not a "peace by might"). Tonight I am truly saddened at the increasing number of violent events taking place on this gorgeous planet. Why don't you see that this can all change without a major catastrophe that would force you to change??
Please take Mr. Hoffman's words seriously. First, obviously, by taking Y2K seriously by taking all nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert for the crucial first days of January, and by adding a triplicate of backup generators at nuclear energy stations. Russell Hoffman is not crazy, disrespectful or misinformed. He backs up what he says with sources and he apologizes when he's wrong. He asked yesterday if anyone will care if NASA would admit, not only to its recklessness with plutonium, but also to its subterfuge in getting its way with putting millions of lives at risk. Yes, Mr. President, I would care, as I would care if it was admitted by all of the people involved in bringing Nuclear Ballistic Defense testing back that this is a big mistake, and apologize for it.
Whoever may read this letter, please realize that it's not in the hands of one person, such as the personage of the President of the United States, who could make our world safe & peaceful for seven generations. But that one person must be a model of true peace for the makers of war, disease and desruction. I hope that you, Mr. President, realize this, along with everyone around you.
Maggie Mandzuk, Woman of Peace
4400 West Hill Ave. #219
Montreal QC H4B 2Z5
The editor of the STOP CASSINI newsletter is deeply appreciative of Ms Mandzuk's comments, but would like to add that he hasn't lost ALL faith in the US Government and NASA. There is still a "one in one million" chance they will do the right thing. -- rdh
I believe the current Senate debate on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty is a red herring. It is being presented because the logic of doing away entirely with these awful weapons is overwhelming.
Yes, the treaty should have been signed long ago, but that is not why the debate suddenly rages. It suddenly rages so that no one (besides YH&OS, who defies them) actually seriously considers the astonishingly simple idea that we don't need to test weapons we don't need to keep at all!
The military officials who back the treaty (including Defense Secretary William Cohen) are saying, in effect, "Sure, sign the treaty. We won't test our weapons (for a while). Tests are no fun anyway now that we have to do them underground. But whatever you do, don't take the nuclear weapons away from us! Some day, we'll get you to allow us to test again. We'll tell you everything is rusted out. Bolts are lose and epoxies have dried out. You will let us test. We can destroy any politician we want to, whenever we want to, and when we want to test again, you will let us. So sign this treaty, because right now, there is a grave threat from Y2K, a threat that the peasants of the world will wake up and realize no one wants anyone to have these genocidal weapons any more, and these peasants have the power to stop us -- if they would, for one moment in history, unite against this crazy genocide we threaten."
This whole CTBT debate is suddenly moved to the forefront so as to prevent the wider debate about the mental instability that causes anyone to think these weapons are of any honorable use whatsoever. Meanwhile, the people suffer, democracy is destroyed, and the nation is bankrupted. And genocide continues to be threatened as though it were an honorable answer to threats of genocide.
Date: Sun, 3 Oct 1999 09:19:31 -0700 (PDT)
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (marylia)
Subject: Criticality accident at Livermore Lab/1963
Dear peace and enviro advocates: Like many of you, I am sure, I have spent the last few days talking to media about the Tokaimura criticality accident and its various (and very real) implications for nuclear programs in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world. In that context, I have been calling the 1963 uranium criticality accident at Livermore Lab to the attention of the media, as well as the more recent 1997 and 1998 criticality safety violations in the Livermore Lab's plutonium facility. Here is an article from Saturday's paper on these connections. Read on... Peace, Marylia
Latest nuclear incident recalls 1963 event at Livermore Lab
Saturday October 02, 1999
By Glenn Roberts Jr.
STAFF WRITER, [Alameda Newspaper Group, from the Tri-Valley Herald]
LIVERMORE -- At midnight on March 26, 1963, an explosive sound crackled over an intercom as researchers at then-Lawrence Radiation Laboratory conducted an experiment using 104 pounds of uranium.
A television monitor in the control room went blank, and seconds later the picture of the experiment chamber flashed on again, showing pieces of the uranium "melting and breaking apart." As in Thursday's accident in Japan, a fission chain-reaction occurred, releasing a burst of radiation.
Alarms sounded, and all four workers in the building rushed outside. About 22 pounds of uranium melted over the floor of the experiment vault, and about 33 pounds of the material burned, according to an account of the accident in a 1964 edition of Health Physics, a journal of the Health Physics Society.
With a cache of plutonium and uranium and a spotted record in handling the materials, Lawrence Livermore Laboratory could learn a lesson from the accidental release of radiation Thursday from a nuclear fuel fabrication plant in Japan, lab critics say.
There are many steps involved in the handling of radioactive materials, said Marylia Kelley, executive director for Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment, an anti-nuclear group based in Livermore.
"Accidents are possible at each step, and no accident is like another. In a way, that is one of the dangers," Kelley said.
Livermore Lab has had a series of safety violations in recent years, and the incident in Japan shows the importance of following the safety practices to the letter, she said.
"It's not that Japan didn't have adequate safety [rules]. The workers violated the safety regulations," she said.
After reports of several safety violations surfaced in 1997, much of the activity at the lab's plutonium storage facility, called Superblock, was halted for several months while workers were retrained and rules were revised.
These safety infractions put workers at risk of exposure and put radioactive materials at higher risk of creating a dangerous reaction, said David Lappa, a lab engineer who has criticized the lab's response to reports of safety violations.
Lappa, who has said some lab workers possibly violated the safety rules intentionally, filed a civil lawsuit in 1998 against his lab bosses and the University of California system that manages the lab.
The lawsuit is related to a report on plutonium safety violations at the lab that he opposed because he felt it was watered down. He believes he was subsequently retaliated against by his bosses.
The amount of plutonium that Livermore Lab stores on-site is measured "in the hundreds of pounds" Lappa said. "It's a very dangerous material to handle."
While he said the recent lab safety problems may not have been on the verge of a criticality -- a nuclear fission chain-reaction that can emit high levels of radiation -- the missteps certainly increased the risk of such an event.
"They've had very serious problems, as the records show," he said.
"The purpose of the rules is to reduce the likelihood of the accident."
David Schwoegler, a Livermore Lab spokesman, said the lab deals with mall amounts of nuclear material in a dry form, which is much more stable tan the liquid treatment process used at the plant in Japan.
"The events that went on there don't take place here at all," he said. And experiments have safety margins that are designed to prevent dangerous materials from reaching critical levels, he added.
He said that the 1963 experiment gone awry was called a criticality
experiment. It was designed to measure a rising energy release as the
amount of plutonium under study was increased, though the actual
criticality event was not anticipated, Schwoegler said.
) 1999 by MediaNews Group, Inc. and ANG Newspapers
(Communities Against a Radioactive Environment)
2582 Old First Street
Livermore, CA USA 94550
http://www.igc.org/tvc/ - is our web site, please visit us there!
(925) 443-7148 - is our phone
(925) 443-0177 - is our fax
Working for peace, justice and a healthy environment since 1983, Tri-Valley CAREs has been a member of the nation-wide Alliance for Nuclear Accountability in the U.S. since 1989, and is a co-founding member of the international Abolition 2000 network for the elimination of nuclear weapons.
To the best of my knowledge they have been on our mailing list for quite some time, but this is the first response we have received:
At 02:14 PM 10/6/99 -0700, you wrote:
From: "Paul Haist" Paul@jewishreview.org
To: "Russell D. Hoffman" email@example.com
Subject: Regarding your poem
Date: Wed, 6 Oct 1999 14:14:51 -0700
Regarding your poem:
I strongly urge you not to quit your day job.
Paul Haist, Editor
The Jewish Review
506 SW Sixth Ave., Suite 606
Portland, Oregon 97204
(503( 227-7438 Fax
----- Original Message -----
From: Russell D. Hoffman firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: Wednesday, October 06, 1999 1:14 AM
Subject: What does "sheesh" mean? STOP CASSINI #202, October 5th, 1999
To: Subscribers, government officials, members of the press
From: Russell David Hoffman, very concerned citizen
Re: What does "sheesh" mean?: STOP CASSINI #202
Date: October 5th, 1999
Thank you for your email, and it's great to learn that someone at The Jewish Review has been paying attention to my writing, but it is a bit confusing. You see, none of my poems that I wrote myself were actually in the newsletter issue you sent back with your letter, and also, I should note that the "voting" is about 20 or 30 positive emails and comments for my three most recent poems, versus only one or two negative ones, and those few negative comments ("sheesh" being one of them, "unsubscribe" being the other, plus your new email) invariably appear to be from people who are not interested in the topics of the poetry (or the newsletters) so much as simply wanting to find some way to insult me, and since they cannot challenge the facts, they must resort to attacking something we all know is purely subjective, namely, the art. Or part of the art, anyway, since each entire newsletter is supposed to be an artistic accomplishment in and of itself.
You, for instance (correct me if I'm wrong) don't seem to want to disagree with the many facts we have presented in our newsletters, but DO wish to take a minor, even shall I say trivial, detail -- namely, whether I write good poetry from an artistic standpoint, assuming of course it's really one of my poems you're complaining about -- and blow it up into our entire relationship -- of everything you've ever seen that I've written, (what, I don't know, other than newsletter #202) I do believe this is the first response any of it has ever gotten from you. (I will be happy to search my database for other incoming emails from you, if you tell me I'm in error.)
Have you tried the 50-question Cassini quiz yet (available in newsletter #197)? Any lay person should be able to do it -- you don't need to be a rocket scientist (in fact, it might help if you're not). I'd be very interested to see if your knowledge of what happened which I have written so much about (including <1% poetry) matches your wit and charming comments for that less than 1% of my total written output.
Perhaps you should quit YOUR day job (if that's where you wrote your complaint from, which it appears to be). After all, you've missed the point of all those newsletter entirely, which is that substance supercedes grace. There are far more important topics in my newsletters than the quality of the poetry, which despite the occasional social Neanderthal who can't see the beauty in an occasional poetic release, I think has really been quite high. But even social Neanderthal's are entitled to their opinions, and I thank you for sending me yours. I guess this means you won't be publishing it, huh? Do you often send such creative letters of rejection to those who write you or have I been specially blessed with your finest efforts at cruelty?
I am crushed, and may never compose a poem again.
Are you happy?
Then again, I might.
Are you sad?
Do you think you changed the world for the better today?
Do you think your email did that?
Are you ready for Y2K, come what may?
Russell D. Hoffman
Founder and Editor
STOP CASSINI newsletter
5 Idaho Nuclear Laboratory Celebrates 50 Years of Research
Story-Date: 01:10 p.m. PST Sunday , October 3, 1999
Idaho Nuclear Laboratory Celebrates 50 Years of Research
By Paul Menser, Post Register, Idaho Falls, Idaho
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Oct. 1--With abundant coal, natural gas, and windmills, the United States doesn't have a pressing economic need to re-embrace nuclear power, says Yoon Chang, interim director of Argonne National Laboratory.
[[[ SO FAR SO GOOD, BUT: ]]]
But other nations, like Japan, France and China, don't have those resources and are spending billions to develop the next generation of reactors.
[[[ THERE ARE NUMEROUS OTHER RENEWABLE RESOURCES THAT ARE AVAILABLE BESIDES THE ONE HE MENTIONED (WIND), PLUS LONG-DISTANCE POWER TRANSMISSION IS NOW POSSIBLE. MUCH FURTHER DISTANCES ARE COST-EFFICIENT THAN 50 YEARS AGO, SO LARGE RENEWABLE RESOURCES IN DISTANT LOCATIONS CAN SUPPLY THE ENERGY NEEDS OF POPULATION CENTERS WORLDWIDE (SEE www.geni.org FOR MORE INFORMATION.) ]]]
If the United States wants to stay in the game, it has to keep research labs like Argonne, said Chang, who came to Idaho on Monday to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Argonne National Laboratory-West. "There's still a lot we can show to the world," he said.
[[[ THERE IS A LOT THEY OWE THE WORLD. LIKE SOME TRUTH. ]]]
Run by the University of Chicago, Argonne is a place that reveres its past. On Monday, two men who worked for the lab in its early days were honored. To hear the tales of nuclear energy's origins, the physics might have been advanced, but the technology was anything but sophisticated.
[[[ WE ON THE OUTSIDE WHO OPPOSE IT HAVE KNOWN THIS FOR YEARS. WE KNOW THAT THEIR SYSTEMS ARE ARCHAIC AND THAT IS WHY THEY FAIL SO OFTEN AND SO CATASTROPHICALLY ALL OVER THE WORLD. WE ALSO KNOW THAT SYSTEMS 1000 TIMES BETTER WOULDN'T BE GOOD ENOUGH. ]]]
Bob Nobles, who worked at Argonne for 48 years, recalled his job in 1942 at Chicago Pile I, where Enrico Fermi and Leo Szilard brought about history's first sustained chain reaction. Part of the Manhattan Project to build the atomic bomb, it was done under the University of Chicago's squash court stands.
Nobles said he ran a swing saw for the cabinetmaker who built the scaffolding for the graphite blocks that were used to keep the fission from going out of control. His job was to provide shims that would keep things level as the heat built up.
[[[ AMAZING HE DIDN'T GET A NOBEL PRIZE FOR THIS WORK,THE WAY THEY HAND THEM OUT TO NUKE SCIENTISTS! ]]]
Kirby Whittom was one of eight engineers who came west from Chicago to the Idaho desert in the spring of 1951 to run Experimental Breeder Reactor I, the first reactor to generate electricity. "We just had one devil of a time getting it critical," he said.
[[[ THAT DEVIL THEY WORKED WITH THEN IS STILL ON THE LOOSE TODAY. HE SOMETIMES GOES BY THE NAME OF MURPHY, SOMETIMES HE CALLS HIMSELF HUMAN FRAILTY. SOMETIMES, BAD LUCK. BUT HE'S ALWAYS OUT THERE, WAITING TO POUNCE ON SCIENTISTS WHO THINK THEY ARE PERFECT. ]]]
John Sackett, Argonne-West's current director, said the lab has been one of the most successful places for nuclear research and development, producing technology that is used around the world.
[[[ HMMMM. CHERNOBYL? TOKAIMURA? SOUTH KOREA? FINLAND? WE DON'T HAVE TO ASK IF THE PUBLIC THERE WAS LIED TO ABOUT THE DANGERS LIKE THE PUBLIC HERE WAS -- AFTER ALL, IN MOST CASES THE PUBLIC WASN'T TOLD *ANYTHING* SO THERE WAS NO NEED TO LIE! ]]]
With around 710 employees, Argonne-West has stiff competition for federal research and development money. It competes with defense labs like Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore, in states with powerful political representation.
[[[ MERCHANTS OF DEATH. ]]]
But Chang said he sees a bright future. Argonne's advantages lie first in its facilities. "To replace all the facilities, in today's environment, would cost billions and billions of dollars," he said.
[[[ TO CLEAN UP THE ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE LIKEWISE WILL COST BILLIONS AND BILLIONS, IF NOT TRILLIONS. ]]]
The lab also has a full spectrum of nuclear technologies, and the people have a huge pool of knowledge, tradition and vision. "We are doing important work today," Chang said.
[[[ I WONDER WHAT PERCENTAGE OF THE BUDGET GOES INTO NUCLEAR WASTE SOLUTIONS? ]]]
He said he sees more integration between Argonne and the rest of the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory.
"There is a good, complementary set of facilities," he said. "The job for the next generation of nuclear development is too big for just one laboratory."
[[[ GOD HELP US ALL! ]]]
In the next 50 years, Chang said he sees five challenges for nuclear power.
-- The industry has to develop better passive safety systems, which cause reactors to shut down when they malfunction.
[[[ THE USUAL CRY FOR BETTER TECHNOLOGY TO FIX THE TECHNOLOGY THEY CLAIMED WAS PERFECT ALREADY. ]]]
-- Reactors need to become 100 times more efficient at generating power.
[[[ GOOD LUCK. THEY OBVIOUSLY NEED SO MANY MORE SAFETY FEATURES THAN THEY HAVE THAT EFFICIENCY WILL PROBABLY BE GOING *DOWN* NOT UP! ]]]
-- They need to be designed with respect toward nuclear non-proliferation issues.
[[[[ NOT TO MENTION DESIGNED TO WITHSTAND NUCLEAR ATTACK AND OTHER TERRORIST THREATS ]]]
-- There has to be a technical solution to waste management.
[[[ THIS HAS TO COME FIRST!!!!!!!! ]]]
-- Nuclear power has to become cheap enough to compete with other sources of energy.
"We're looking at high-risk, high-payoff, long-term research and development," Chang said.
[[[ HIGH-RISK IS THE KEYWORD HERE! ]]]
(c) 1999, Post Register, Idaho Falls, Idaho. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.
[[[ COMMENTS IN TRIPLE-BRACKETS BY RUSSELL D. HOFFMAN AND YES, HE KNOWS USING CAPITAL LETTERS MEANS HE'S SHOUTING!!!!! (SOMETIMES EVEN PEACE ACTIVISTS HAVE TO SHOUT TO BE HEARD AT ALL.) ]]]
NASA needs to be told in no uncertain terms they have lied too often to the public and we want a SEA CHANGE away from their nuclear policies!
To learn about the absurd excuses NASA used to launch Cassini and its 72.3 pounds of plutonium in 1997, ask them for the 1995 Environmental Impact Statement for the Cassini mission, and all subsequent documentation. At the same time, be sure to ask them for ANY and ALL documentation available on future uses of plutonium in space, including MILITARY, CIVILIAN, or "OTHER" (just in case they make a new category somehow!). To get this information, contact:
Cassini Public Information
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Pasadena CA 91109
(818) 354-5011 or
Here's NASA's "comments" email address: email@example.com
Daniel Goldin is the head of NASA. Here's his email address:
Here's the NASA URL to find additional addresses to submit written questions to:
YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO KNOW WHAT NASA IS DOING TO YOUR HEALTH.
Be sure to "cc" the president and VP and your senators and congresspeople, too.
President Bill Clinton
White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.,
Washington, D.C. 20500; Ph. (202) 456-1111, Fax (202) 456-2461;
e-mail -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Vice President Albert Gore
White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.,
N.W.,Washington, D.C. 20500;Ph. (202) 456-1414, Fax (202)
456-2461; e-mail -- email@example.com
Secretary William Cohen
Washington D.C. 20301
Secretary Bill Richardson
Department of Energy (DoE)
1000 Independence Avenue SW
Washington D.C. 20585
Always include your full name and postal address in all correspondence to any Government official of any country.
Thanks for reading! Welcome new subscribers!
Home page of our STOP CASSINI movement:
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UNSUBSCRIBE STOP CASSINI NEWSLETTER
Published by Russell D. Hoffman electronically.
Written in U.S.A.
This newsletter is free and is not distributed for profit.
Please distribute these newsletters EVERYWHERE!
Many of the issues presented by Russell Hoffman in this letter are based on conversations with Dr. John W. Gofman (who isolated the first working quantities of plutonium), the late Dr. Karl Z. Morgan (who was known as the "father of health physics"), Dr. Ernest Sternglass (who has done statistical studies about LLR), Dr. Jay Gould (ditto), Dr. Horst Poehler, Dr. Helen Caldicott, Dr. Ross Wilcock and dozens of activists, as well as many others on both sides of the nuclear debates, including ex military nuke expert Jack Shannon (responsible for the design of the D2G Navy reactor, the most widely used reactor in the U. S. navy), award-winning investigative reporter Karl Grossman, ecologist and human rights advocate Pamela Blockey-O'Brien, etc. Also, I've read a few dozen books on the various subjects. And scads of government documents purporting to explain how something so dangerous can be safe. Professionally, my pump training software is used throughout the pump industry and even in some nuclear power plants around the world to train their staff about mechanical pumps. Any errors herein are regrettably my own, but I believe it would take an extremely unlikely preponderance of errors to invalidate my basic position on these issues.
Russell D. Hoffman, Carlsbad, California, Peace Activist, Environmentalist, High Tech Guru:
Hoffman's Y2K Preparedness Information:
Learn about The Effects of Nuclear War here:
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