STOP CASSINI Newsletter #127 -- May 20th, 1999

Copyright (c) 1999

STOP CASSINI Newsletters Index

To: Subscribers, Press, Government Officials

Subject: Dr. John W. Gofman on Radiation Hazards -- STOP CASSINI #127

Date: May 20th, 1999

Time Frame: There are 35 days left to demand that NASA smash Cassini into Venus!

Today's subjects:

Dr. John W. Gofman on recent scientific proof of radiation dangers:

Dr. Gofman is a nuclear physicist and health physicist, Professor Emeritus of Medical Physics at the University of California at Berkeley. Dr. Gofman is a co-discoverer of Uranium 232, Pa 232, U 233, and Pa 233, and of slow and fast neutron fissionability of U 233, co-inventor of the uranyl acetate and columbium oxide processes for plutonium separation. He was also the first to isolate plutonium in working quantities (for the Manhattan Project during WWII). Dr. Gofman has taught and/or done research in radiochemistry, macromolecules, lipoproteins, coronary heart disease, arteriosclerosis, trace element determination and x-ray spectroscopy, and was the first Director of Biomedical Research at the Lawrence Livermore Radiation Laboratory (1963), where he conducted extensive studies on cancer, chromosomes, radiation and human health.

The following letter was sent to Hans Karow of the Cassini Redirection Committee by Dr. Gofman. I hope that everyone who knows ANY scientist at NASA will submit this statement to them, and ask them how they can continue to back Cassini after considering Dr. Gofman's comments, after considering all the recent Titan and other rocket failures which have proven NASA's inability to control significant error rates throughout the system (software failures and loose wiring have both received blame for recent failures, and they are about as opposite as you can get) and most of all, I hope good-thinking NASA scientists will rethink their support after considering that NASA probes in the past have gone wildly off course after becoming uncontrollable for any number of reasons. If that happens to Cassini -- and that is far more likely than "one in one million" -- then nothing but dumb luck will protect the human species from Cassini's assault. That is NOT good science when solar alternative existed for Cassini!



May 11, 1999

To Whom It May Concern:

During 1942, I led the "Plutonium Group" at the University of California, Berkeley, which managed to isolate the first milligram of plutonium from irradiated uranium. (Plutonium-239 had previously been discovered by Glenn Seaborg and Edwin McMillan.) During subsequent decades, I have studied the biological effects of ionizing radiation --- including the alpha particles emitted by the decay of plutonium.

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").

It follows from such evidence that citizens worldwide have a strong biological basis for opposing activities which produce an appreciable risk of exposing humans and others to plutonium and other radioactive pollution at any level. The fact that humans cannot escape exposure to ionizing radiation from various natural sources --- which may well account for a large share of humanity's inherited afflictions --- is no reason to let human activities INCREASE exposure to ionizing radiation. The fact that ionizing radiation is a mutagen was first demonstrated in 1927 by Herman Joseph Muller, and subsequent evidence has shown it to be a mutagen of unique potency. Mutation is the basis not only for inherited afflictions, but also for cancer.

Very truly yours,

John W. Gofman, M. D., Ph D
Professor Emeritus of Molecular and Cell Biology

----- END OF LETTER -----

Anyone reading this should consider sending a copy of this newsletter to Dr. Louis Friedman , Executive Director of The Planetary Society ( who as of July, 1997 clearly had ZERO respect for Dr. Gofman and his work:


At 07:15 AM 7/22/97, Louis Friedman wrote

-- Mr. Hoffman --

I checked out this site as you suggested []. None of these are publications from the scientific literature in either of the fields of health physics or medical science. They are all opinion pieces.

[Gofman's] C.V. offered on that home page, does not list any scientific papers, except two from 1969 and 1971 (26 years ago!)

No other scientific publications (that is work published in the scientific literature, reviewed and accepted by a professional journal) are listed -- by him or any of the authors you cited.


Louis Friedman


(Details of our correspondences with Dr. Friedman are available online in various newsletters (#77, #76, #75, #32, #31, #29, #28, #24, #20, #18 and #17, and others) the full text clip shown above is contained in newsletter #24. It has been quite some time since he responded to the editor of this newsletter, however. I assume he feels he can no longer give valid and reasonable responses which are in line with his political agendas and pithy prognostications. -- rdh)

Good News: Censorship at TPS not as bad as originally estimated:

This series of emails completes the mystery (first presented in newsletter #121, May 6th, 1999) regarding The Planetary Society's archiving of earlier bone-headed comments by their Executive Director, Dr. Louis Friedman:


Date: Tue, 11 May 1999 18:39:05 -0700
To: "Russell D. Hoffman"
From: Cynthia Kumagawa
Subject: Re:

Dear Russell,

I would like to assure you that we have simply reorganized our Headline directories because the website is growing so fast. The page is still in our 1997 archive:

I apologize for the inconvenience. As soon as we're done reorganizing, we'll have a search engine available for such instances as this. Please feel free to contact me again if you have any questions.

Thank you for your inquiry.



Dear Cynthia,

Thanks for the response, I'm delighted to hear the information will continue to be available. However, your response does not address the problem of having changed the addressing, which cuts all the links that might have developed to the original message. Aside from the apparent removal of the document, simply the movement of the document from its original address is also a problem. It breaks the links. (Once that is solved, the problem of having it appear in the site search engines is of course no different one way or the other.) If you must move the document, couldn't you have left a marker that would display and then go directly to the new location?

Also, since the directory includes the heading "articlearchive" does that mean that it is not the FIRST/ONLY place the articles appear?

I hope TPS will rethink their policy some more, but I'm glad the document will remain somewhere at the site (I'm presuming the new address you gave will be permanent now?)

old: new:

Take care,


----- END OF OUTGOING LETTER (sent May, 1999)-----

Censorship is still bad at TPS; just not as bad as it originally appeared. However, last I looked they were still pretending the Cassini issue had gone away, for instance. They were still refusing to publish any of this editor's complaints (with their lame answers) at their web site or in their literature. They were still pretending all was well in Poisonville. They were, most of all, still pretending there is NO scientific opposition to Cassini and similar NASA nuclear launches. As many as a dozen more nuclear misions are currently planned and partially or even completely funded, and millions of dollars are currently being spent to design newer and slightly more efficient RTGs (now to be called RPSs, but which still carry many kilograms of plutonium in each). Most of these RTGs and RPSs will be for military use, but that use will be shrouded behind a so-called "civilian" space nuclear program which fronts for the U.S. Military.

It would be nice if Dr. Louis Friedman could look at the next item and then help me pressure NASA for greater honesty, not to mention a public and unequivocal apology for publishing such trash as will be described below:

A further look at NASA's lies: Radioactive Heater Units (RHUs)

There are two sources of plutonium on board Cassini: The bulk of the plutonium payload are the three Radioactive Thermoelectric Generators (RTGs) which produce electrical power from the heat of decay of the plutonium. In addition there are 130 seldom-mentioned (by NASA) Radioactive Heater Units (RHUs) each with about 2.7 grams of plutonium dioxide.

As we have noted in the past, NASA has clearly indicated, if you read their detailed reports VERY, VERY CAREFULLY, that the "RHUs" (Radioactive Heater Units) have a 100% likelihood of being completely vaporized in a reentry accident. 100% likelihood is certainly an "appreciable risk"!

Yet NASA's web page on the RHUs does not say anything like that (most of it is quoted, and the URL given, below)! How are such conflicting viewpoints humanly possible? They are not. The document below must be read very carefully, because if you miss the full meaning of the following phrases, you'll miss the fact that tests proving how safe the RHUs are DID NOT INCLUDE reentry accident scenarios: "...tests were more severe than anticipated for credible accident scenarios. No releases occurred for those events which were within the limits of anticipated accident scenarios."

Everyone should ask NASA to clarify this matter -- for NASA, reentry is simply not considered "credible" hence, a 100% LIKELIHOOD OF FAILURE does not bother NASA in the least, and is NEVER talked about in any widely distributed NASA document and never brought up to reporters who ask about the safety of Cassini's plutonium containment system. Only the RTGs are discussed.

I hope reporters all around the world will make the proper inquiries directly to NASA/JPL specifically about the OFFICIAL expectation that all of the RHUs will completely incinerate in a Cassini flyby reentry accident, and reporters should then ask why that fact is not explicitly stated on NASA's OFFICIAL web page about the RHUs -- indeed, reporters and citizens alike should be asking why "disinformation" is being presented there instead.

The RHUs will be vaporized into a wide spectrum of sizes, including perhaps 30% OR MORE as inhalable particles in the 5 to 10 micron size -- perfect for inhalation and retention in human lungs. NASA should publish, ON THAT PAGE, their opinion of how the expected spectrum of plutonium particle sizes will be distributed. This is the information the public has a right to know. Because NASA may be right that a flyby reentry will not occur -- but they may be wrong. A tiny failure around the time of the flyby of Venus on June 24th, 1999 could lead to a POISONED PILL screaming down our throats, which will arrive on or around August 18th, 1999. Or it may simply become LOST IN SPACE at any moment, to hurtle aimlessly about the solar system, and maybe crash into a big sweeping gravitational strongpoint like Earth!

NOTHING can stop that, and NASA knows it. Yet read what their official statement says (they have a nice picture of the doomed little pellets as well):

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


RHUs generate heat from the natural radioactive decay of a small pellet of plutonium dioxide (mostly plutonium-238). This heat is transferred to spacecraft structures, systems, and instruments directly without moving parts or intervening electronic components.

RHUs are very compact, 3.2 centimeters (1.3 inches) long and 2.6 centimeters (1 inch) in diameter. The fuel pellet is about the size and shape of a pencil eraser weighing approximately 2.7 grams (0.1 ounces). All together each RHU weighs about 40 grams (1.4 ounces).


RHUs have a very rugged containment system to prevent or minimize the release of plutonium dioxide fuel even when subjected to severe accident conditions. Containment is achieved through multiple layers which are resistant to the heat and impact that might be encountered during a spacecraft accident. An external graphite aeroshell (a reentry shield) and a graphite insulator protect the fuel from impacts, fires and atmospheric reentry conditions. Internally, the fuel is encapsulated in a high-strength, platinum-rhodium metal shell (or "clad") which further contains and protects the fuel during any potential accident.

In addition to this containment, the plutonium dioxide fuel is used in a ceramic form of the material which tends to break into large pieces rather than dispersing as fine particles. This minimizes interaction of the fuel with the environment and the potential for human exposure in the extremely unlikely event the multiple fuel containment barriers are breached. Since each RHU fuel pellet is individually encapsulated in its own aeroshell and fuel clad, the potential for a single event to affect more than one pellet is reduced.


RHUs have been subjected to a rigorous series of laboratory and field tests. Those tests were more severe than anticipated for credible accident scenarios. No releases occurred for those events which were within the limits of anticipated accident scenarios.

In summary, the RHUs are extremely rugged and reliable devices that have been designed and tested to contain their fuel in a wide range of mission accidents.

For more information contact:
U.S. Department of Energy,
Office of Space and Defense Power Systems, NE-50 (GTN),
Germantown, MD 2087?

Last Updated: January 11, 1999


The above NASA/DOE document is unsigned. Whoever wrote it should be fired for distributing false information. Specifically, the phrase "atmospheric reentry conditions" in the following sentence is refuted by NASA's own documents: "An external graphite aeroshell (a reentry shield) and a graphite insulator protect the fuel from impacts, fires and atmospheric reentry conditions. Internally, the fuel is encapsulated in a high-strength, platinum-rhodium metal shell (or "clad") which further contains and protects the fuel during any potential accident."

According to NASA's FSEIS for the Cassini mission (page D-3, with accompanying charts), the RHUs have a "conditional probability of 1.0" of incinerating in a reentry accident. Collectively the RHUs contain about half a pound of plutonium!

For these reasons, it is my recommendation that Cassini be aimed right smack into the middle of Venus RIGHT NOW and left on that course until June 24th, 1999 when it will smash into that inhospitable and desolate planet, and nevermore threaten the six billion Earthlings who are each struggling to survive, who do not wish to get cancer, leukemia, or give birth to suffering and damaged children, just because NASA wants to support a United States military agenda which requires the existence of plutonium power sources for outer space, deep sea, the Arctic and Antarctic, and elsewhere.


*** They have 20,000 nuclear bombs: Russian Threatening U. S. With World War Three:

The Russian Bear roars -- but doesn't CNN constantly report that the Cold War is over? I thought the trillions we spent on nuclear holocaust was supposed to save us from annihilation, save us from what we described in Newsletter #123, THE EFFECTS OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS. I thought peace and understanding was at hand with Russia!

But perhaps we really have pushed and bullied the world too much, and now the world pushes Russia to "do something" to stop what much of the world --rightly or wrongly -- sees as U. S. aggression. Why does the world see it that way? Perhaps because not once since World War Two has a true and good democracy been put in place after a U. S. military action, despite our high claims that that is why we do each of them. NOT ONCE.

What is clear from the comments shown in Carol Moore's letter which follows, is that our push-button high-tech electronic bombing of one country after another (with Depleted Uranium bombs, and cluster bombs (which become land-mines when they fail to go off, killing civilians for decades after use)) is no longer a valid option of diplomacy. We are failing to accomplish anything, and we are putting the world -- including ourselves -- at grave risk. There has to be a better way, but can Clinton find it? God help us for having elected this man. God forgive us; the other choices were worse!


Date: Thu, 20 May 1999 00:49:20 -0400
From: Carol Moore
To: Peace list from
Subject: Five Russian Threats of Nuke War

Why we must stop this war now!!


“I told NATO, the Americans, the Germans: Don't push us toward military action. Otherwise there will be a European war for sure and possibly world war.” Russian President Boris Yeltsin, April 6, 1999 (Reuters)

“In the event that NATO and America start a ground operation in Yugoslavia, they will face a second Vietnam, I do not want to forecast what is going to start then. I cannot rule out a third world war.” Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, April 17, 1999 (Associated Press)

“If NATO goes from air force to ground force it will be a world catastrophe. (Russia) has never felt such anti-Western, anti-European feelings.” First Deputy Russian Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais, April 25, 1999. (Reuters)

“You have to understand that if we want to cause you a problem over this, we could. Someone, we don't know who, could send up a missile from a ship or a submarine and detonate a nuclear weapon high over the United States. The EMP (electromagenetic pulse that destroys electronic and computer equipment) would take away all your capability.” Vladimir Lukin, Chairman of the Russian State Duma Foreign Policy Committee, late April, 1999 (Rep. Kurt Weldon in May 18, 1999 speech.)

“Just let Clinton, a little bit, accidentally, send a missile. We will answer immediately. Such impudence! To unleash a war on a sovereign state. Without Security Council. Without United Nations. It could only be possible in a time of barbarism.” Boris Yeltsin, May 7, 1999 (Washington Post)


Carol Moore in D.C:


An in-depth article on the growing possibility of a nuclear war is also available at Carol Moore's web site:


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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