STOP CASSINI Newsletter #242 -- December 17th, 1999 (penultimate edition of the day)
Copyright (c) 1999
STOP CASSINI Newsletters Index
To: Subscribers, government officials, members of the press
From: Russell David Hoffman, worried citizen
Re: Nightmare on Main Street: STOP CASSINI #242
Date: December 17th, 1999 (penultimate edition of the day)
This issue's subjects:
*** (1) Return, reuse, recycle -- nuclear waste? Nightmare on Main Street
*** (2) With kindest regards (we will give you cancer)
*** (3) Tell Clinton how you feel -- Official government contact points
*** (4) Newsletter subscription information
*** (5) Newsletter Authorship notes and additional URLs
*** (1) Return, reuse, recycle -- nuclear waste? Nightmare on Main Street:
----- INCOMING ITEM SEEN IN "RADBULL" -----
11/18/99 **** RADIATION BULLETIN(RADBULL) **** VOL 7.252
9 THE BIG PICTURE: THE RECYCLING OF RADIOACTIVE MATERIALS
BY: WENONAH HAUTER
American tax dollars are being used to subsidize schemes to
recycle materials contaminated with radiation. The U.S.
Department of Energy (DOE), the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory
Commission (NRC), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) and other organizations are all involved in efforts that
will make it easier for materials contaminated with radiation to
find their way into innumerable products, such as braces for
teeth, baby strollers, frying pans-virtually everything made out
of carbon steel, stainless steel, nickel, copper, or aluminum.
Astonishingly, radioactive metals are already being recycled;
about 10,000 tons of radioactive metal were recycled in 1996. DOE
is in the process of recycling over 100,000 tons of radioactive
metal, and the nuclear industry has an additional 1.5 million
tons of contaminated metal that it wants to recycle.
Rather than isolating radioactive metal and other materials from
the public, the nuclear industry hopes to save or make money by
selling materials contaminated with radiation.
Government agencies charged with protecting people from exposure
to radioactive waste are instead colluding with the nuclear
industry to "release" into commerce radioactive material from
commercial nuclear power plants and nuclear weapons facilities.
Federal agencies and the nuclear industry are moving ahead in a
number of areas to ensure that radioactive recycling becomes
DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY
Presently, DOE is quietly releasing radioactive material from
some of its nuclear weapon complexes. DOE has entered into a
precedent- setting contract with Oak Ridge National Laboratory
(Knoxville, Tennessee) that would allow the recycling of over
100,000 tons of radioactive nickel, steel scrap, and copper. The
radioactive metal is going first to metal processing facilities
and then to product manufacturers with no warning labels,
notification or consent from recyclers, manufacturers or
NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION
The NRC is trying to set a standard for the amount of radiation
that can be present in household products. The standard-setting
process is designed to legalize radioactive recycling. NRC is
also allowing the importation of radioactive metal from foreign
nuclear reactors, which may also be recycled into U.S. products.
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
Even though the EPA has the authority to create a radiation
standard for recycled material, the agency has suspended attempts
to do so. EPA could create a standard with a "zero tolerance" for
any radiation above background amounts, which would effectively
halt radioactive recycling. Instead, EPA has been co-chairing
with NRC an "interagency steering committee on radiation
standards," which is focused on "facilitating a consensus on
acceptable levels of radiation risk to the public and workers."
INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY
The International Atomic Energy Agency is engaged in an effort to
set a "world" standard for recycling radioactive material. Even
the United Nations has put together a technical committee to look
at issues related to setting standards for radiation. A world-
wide standard for radiation could be used by the World Trade
Organization as the guide for trading radioactively contaminated
products. The DOE, NRC and EPA are engaged in these overseas
efforts to develop radiation standards.
RADIATION IS SAFE?
Unsurprisingly, decades of research shows that exposure to
radiation is a threat to human health. Any exposure to radiation,
no matter how small, results in some health risk. Even diluting
radiation through recycling cannot reduce the risk to society as
a whole, because the total number of people exposed to radiation
will increase as more and more products contain radiation.
To hurdle this barrier, the nuclear industry and its government
allies are attempting to establish that small doses of radiation
are not only safe, they could be beneficial.
The National Academy of Science (NAS) has convened a panel of
experts to write a high-profile report on the biological effects
of radiation. The conclusions from the report will be used by
government agencies to set radiation limits for radioactive
recycling, worker exposure, medical X-rays, nuclear power plants
and other nuclear facilities. Despite protests from anti-nuclear
activists, the NAS panel has been packed with supporters of the
nuclear power industry.
With the help of Senator Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), a major
supporter of all things nuclear, the Energy Department's budget
includes $66 million for a 10-year study on exposure to low doses
of radiation. According to DOE, the program's goal "is to support
research that will help determine health risks from exposures to
low levels of radiation." The results of the study could
encourage more radioactive recycling, even though more people
would be exposed to increased amounts of radiation.
BACK TO 1984?
In George Orwell's 1984, Big Brother said war is peace, freedom
is slavery and ignorance is strength. Today, the nuclear industry
and its supporters in government are saying that recycling of
materials contaminated with radiation is cost-effective, a little
radiation is good for you and radioactive waste is no problem.
This and other article's on radioactive metal recycling can be
POWER & REACTOR SAFETY ENERGY WASTE POLICY
----- END OF ITEM SEEN IN RADBULL -----
We don't know why this item appears to be cut off at the end. Our apologies. -- rdh
*** (2) With kindest regards (we will give you cancer):
Readers may recall a letter I sent to the North County Times (San Diego, California; the original letter was shown in STOP CASSINI newsletter #232, November 27th, 1999). Its publication in the newspaper caused several emails to arrive, including this one:
----- FIRST INCOMING EMAIL FROM ALL TSCHAECHE -----
Date: Sat, 04 Dec 1999 12:00:12 -0800
I saw your letter in the NC Times and visited your web site. I assume
you have adopted the point of view that all nuclear power plants are bad
and should be shut down now and forever, not just for the potential Y2K
problem, but because they are simply too dangerous for humans to use.
If that is not correct, please tell me. Otherwise we have much to
I have 43 years' experience in the nuclear industry, particularly in
nuclear safety. As you might guess my point of view is significantly
different from the one I assume you have. We might learn from each
other if we have open minds about other's points of view.
What do you say? Can we dialog? Or would it be a waste of time?
Kindest regards. Al Tschaeche email@example.com
----- END OF FIRST INCOMING EMAIL FROM ALL TSCHAECHE -----
----- MY RESPONSE: -----
Thank you for your letter [shown above] and yes, that's pretty much my stand -- Y2K only makes things worse, but nuclear power plants are supported by government loans and subsidies, institutionalized lies (like, that LLR is somehow good for you), and corporate inertia which prevents us from turning to safer alternatives. Because of my extensive study of the fluid power industry (more specifically, pumps), I am convinced that many good technologies remain undeveloped for lack of funding, while the nuclear option sucks billions of dollars from America's coffers year after year, not to mention causing numerous deaths from cancer, leukemia, birth defects, etc.. You won't find those risks inherent in wave power, tide power, solar power, geothermal, wind, hydroelectric, etc. etc. There is almost always some risk, but nowhere near the same level. Even a dam burst leaves the area clean and livable (sometimes even better) once the waters subside (unless the flood knocks out a chemical plant, b
ut that could simply have been built on higher ground).
There have been many areas where there have been enormous increases in efficiency since the nuclear option was started, from new pumps and motors to electronic controllers, to better long-distance transmission systems, etc.. We only built the first nuclear power plants in order to obtain plutonium for our nuclear weapons arsenal -- and surely we've got more than enough weapons now!
So yes, I would be happy to engage in further dialogue, however, I should add that I have many contacts who were formerly in the nuclear industry (some for many years), and I believe their case is strong, not only their case against nuclear power for safety reasons, but also they explain why, despite the evidence, nuclear power is still supported in America and around the world.
Mass hysteria is not uncommon, in fact, it has occurred throughout history. People in Victorian England thought that sleeping with a virgin could cure syphilis. What cruel idiocy! Nowadays, in South Africa, CNN reports that people there think that sleeping with a virgin can cure AIDS. In both cases, failure is thought to only mean [the partner] wasn't a real virgin. In both cases, diseases spread and innocent people die.
Likewise, support for nuclear power seldom comes from people who have studied all the various aspects of it --engineering, medical, political. And public support for nuclear power has been well-crafted, by talented government agencies in charge of formulating public opinion (like whoever came up with the line "too cheap to meter").
Generally, one thing I've learned is that nuclear engineers do not look at the medical risks; while doctors who support it do not look at the engineering risks, and practically no one looks at the political aspects. I don't know your own employment history, of course, but I would be delighted to find even one person in the industry who has a complete understanding of the various aspects, whom I could contact whenever I had a question. If you're that person, I would cherish a continued and open dialogue, because nothing would make me happier than to be able to decide I'm wrong about nuclear power, nuclear weapons, etc..
However, as I said, I've been in contact with many experts on the subject -- granted, experts the nuclear industry won't listen to, but it's clear they know a thing or two, regardless, and they have not been discredited in any way -- only ignored.
Some basic questions might be a good start:
1) How many people do you think died because of Chernobyl?
2) What quantity is a "potentially lethal dose" of vaporized Plutonium 239?
3) Ditto for Pu 238?
4) If you have 400,000 Curies (72.3 pounds) of Pu 238 (mostly, with some Pu 239) in dioxide form, isn't vaporizing it just about the worst thing you can do with it?
5) What do you think we will do with all the waste that is being generated? Glassification won't work; nothing proposed so far is viable. Yet we keep creating more.
Naturally, I could ask 100 more questions, to gauge your "attitude", but you wanted dialog, not a lecture or a quiz!
Again, I thank you for your letter and look forward to hearing any further comments you might care to make.
----- END OF MY RESPONSE -----
----- SECOND INCOMING EMAIL FROM ALL TSCHAECHE -----
Date: Thu, 16 Dec 1999 23:23:25 -0800
I guess we don't have a dialog. Remember, I asked you to tell me if you
are against nuclear power and if you were NOT we have much to dialog
about. You said, "yes, that's pretty much my stand ...." (that you are
against nuclear power) so we're done. There's nothing I can say. You
have made up your mind. Having looked at your web site, I find all of
the information you quote is from dyed-in-the-wool anti nuclear people.
So, I'm not surprised that you are anti nuclear. It's a pity that
someone with your obvious engineering abilities has come to the
conclusion that nuclear power is bad based on such one sided
information. It might have been that you would have been willing to see
both sides of the story before making up your mind.
Although you don't name them in your email, but on your web page they
are named, almost all of the data and conclusions by those named
individuals about the effect of radiation has been discredited by the
scientific establishment knowledgeable about the effects of radiation on
humans, materials and environment. I know that you won't believe that,
but there is much literature available to demonstrate it. I will not
give you citations now because even if you read them, your mind is made
up and nothing anyone can say will change it.
I don't know why you ask the questions you do. But here are my answers
(you might already know the answers because my "attitude" is one of
support for things nuclear).
1. There are 31 documented deaths directly due to the Chernobyl
accident. Most of them were because the individuals were very badly
burned, not from radiation, although some were. There have been 3
children die from thyroid cancer because the USSR government didn't tell
the people not to feed contaminated milk to babies and children. All of
the other thyroid tumors have been successfully treated. These data are
from the IAEA reports of the accident and its aftermath. All other
reports of thousands of deaths are either projections based on a
soon-to-be discredited hypothesis about dose and effects, or are without
firm scientific basis.
2. I don't know what a "potentially lethal dose" means. Either
something is lethal or it isn't. In any case, if someone somehow were
to inhale insoluble plutonium 239 in such a particulate form that it
remained in the lung for long times, the dose to the lung would have to
be more than 1000 rem before any effect would be noted.
3. Same for Pu-238. Dose is dose, whatever causes the dose.
4. I assume you are referring to Cassini. Since all that plutonium is
in space, what is the purpose of the question?
5 The waste "problem" is not a scientific one; it is political. When we
finally get Yucca mountain open for storage of spent fuel until it is
reprocessed, there will be demonstration that we know what to do with
it. However, the anti nuclear people can't stand that, because it would
destroy their argument that there is no safe place to put what they call
waste, but which really is a huge energy resource and shouldn't be
thrown away. So the antis do everything they can politically to prevent
any new "waste" storage sites from opening. They were not successful in
preventing the Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP) from opening this
year. So, already their argument is specious. WIPP is a safe place to
dispose of radioactive waste in the form of transuranic- contaminated
articles. We will have others in the future. We have defacto safe
sites at Hanford, Los Alamos, Utah, South Carolina and other places
already. So we are already handling the waste safely. I think we will
continue to do so.
Since your mind is already made up, it has been pleasant talking with
you, but we have nothing more to say.
Regards. Al Tschaeche
----- END OF SECOND INCOMING EMAIL FROM ALL TSCHAECHE -----
----- MY RESPONSE: -----
To: Al Tschaeche
From: Russell Hoffman
Re: YOUR request for dialog
Date: Dec. 16th, 1999
There's no gentle way to say this: Your letter is absurd, and that's the only reason we don't have a dialog going here. Your letter does not permit reasonable dialog to occur, because you make claims you can't (or won't) substantiate.
I told you I am NOT against nuclear power in theory, only in its many atrocious and outrageous manifestations. [Actually, I appear to have neglected to mention it. -- rdh]. I stand by that.
You claim you've looked at "all" the information I have at my web site (that means all 237 issues of the STOP CASSINI newsletter, I presume, for starters) and have declared it all to be "dyed in the wool" quotes from anti-nuclear people. First of all, that's ridiculous, since much of it is my own commentary on current events, and second of all, so what if it were? You say their information has been discredited -- yet for proof, you only claim I wouldn't read your proof if you showed it to me!
There are many good men and woman you have slandered with your comments, and they deserve better. I challenge you to name those you say have been largely discredited.
Surely you are not talking about Dr. John W. Gofman. Nor Dr. Ernest J. Sternglass. Nor Dr. Jay Gould. Nor Dr. Helen Caldicott. Nor Dr. Horst Poehler. Nor Dr. Michio Kaku. Nor Dr. Stanley Thompson. Nor Jack Shannon, nor Dr. Ross Wilcock. Nor Pamela Blockey-O-Brien, I hope! Who then might you be referring to? Who exactly are you slandering?
The safety of nuclear power is not really an engineering question. It's a statistical one. The accidents that have occurred have proven unequivocally that the nuclear industry is incapable of handling its responsibilities. Sooner or later enough serious accidents will have occurred such that the world proclaims "ENOUGH" and does away with the nuclear industry. All we'll have is the mess you're making. Furthermore the nuclear industry is financially propped up 1000 different ways, including though claims that the waste problem has been solved/will be solved/could ever be solved. 30 years ago you were probably telling people glassification was the solution. That and every other proposed solution (including rocketing the stuff out to space) has failed for scientific reasons and if you have indisputable proof otherwise, I'd love to see it.
No, instead you just have claims of knowledge. That is very typical pro-nuclear behavior, by the way. You're nothing new under the sun.
I have access to many experts, as you've no doubt deduced. There is NO WAY they've all been discredited. If you have arguments that prove anything I've written, to you or to anyone else, wrong, I'd love to see them so that I can correct myself.
It's too bad you don't really want to dialog. I'd love to find out that nuclear power is safe, clean, efficient, and "too cheap to meter". Instead, all you've presented are the usual insults and verbal run-arounds. And it's a lame attempt to claim it's me that won't "dialog". And, one certainly has to wonder if your mind could ever be changed by a fact, since an abundance of them obviously isn't enough to do the trick.
As to the "starter" questions, you certainly utterly failed. Aside from your dream-answer that only 31 people died from Chernobyl (truly an impossibility, considering about 4% of the core was burned and spread around the globe), you've dodged all the hard answers, as all pro-nuclear scientists and engineers tend to do. The world needs very exact numbers, and the nuclear industry doesn't like to provide those numbers. So you won't tell me exactly how dangerous you think plutonium 238 is, or Pu 238, saying you're unsure what a "potentially lethal dose" is. Fine. Define your own standard if you like, but before we can talk about whether something should or should not be allowed, we need to know how dangerous it is. So, give me some numbers that will show me what you think happens when various doses of Pu are inhaled. Is that so hard? As for the "purpose" of question #4, not only are other foolhardy NASA plutonium missions planned, but
Cassini itself can still return to Earth, as is documented in NASA's own EIS, but then ignored by policy-makers and NASA PR people. Obviously, the odds go down as it gets further away from Earth and closer to Jupiter (where it's headed right now) and then Saturn (it's planned destination).
As for waste storage, you must have missed all the newsletters where I discuss the problems the have occurred at Hanford, WA, Beatty, NV, and elsewhere.
You said we have nothing to dialog. That's right -- because YOUR mind is made up, and besides that, your tactics are thoroughly disgusting. If your facts could stand the scrutiny they deserve, you had your chance to present them. Instead you insult me and my many, many scientific and engineering contacts. Do you do that because it is it too hard for you to simply debate the issues?
----- END OF MY RESPONSE -----
(3) Tell Clinton how you feel -- Official government contact points:
To contact the top government officials:
President Bill Clinton
White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.,
Washington, D.C. 20500
Phone -- (202) 456-1111 Fax -- (202) 456-2461
e-mail -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Vice President Albert Gore (same address)
Phone -- (202) 456-1414 Fax -- (202) 456-2461
e-mail -- email@example.com
Secretary William Cohen
Washington D.C. 20301
Phone -- (703) 695-6352 Fax -- (703) 695-1149
Secretary Bill Richardson
Department of Energy (DoE)
1000 Independence Avenue SW
Washington D.C. 20585
Phone -- (202) 586-6210 Fax -- (202) 586-4403
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 (818) 354-6478
Here's NASA's "comments" email address:
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.
NASA should never have been allowed to launch monstrosities like Cassini and Galileo, but the next breed -- such as Europa Orbiter and Pluto-Kuiper Express are not much better and the policy is being set for greatly increased rates of missions! The danger continues! To complain to NASA about their future nuclear space probes, here are two addresses you can use:
For Europa Orbiter:
"Europa Orbiter comments" firstname.lastname@example.org
For Pluto-Kuiper Express:
"Pluto-Kuiper Express comments" email@example.com
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, because otherwise they will throw it out unread, or hand it directly to their police force to try to identify the author. (Thus, nothing good will come of it.) Also, ALWAYS include a personal message of some sort, indicating YOUR OWN VIEWS, even if you include a lot of material written by other people (me, for instance).
(4) Newsletter subscription information:
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Published by Russell D. Hoffman electronically.
This newsletter is free and is not distributed for profit.
The opinions expressed are those of the individual authors.
Please distribute these newsletters EVERYWHERE!
Written in the United States of America.
(5) Newsletter Authorship notes and additional URLs:
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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