STOP CASSINI Newsletter #156 -- July 22nd, 1999

Copyright (c) 1999

STOP CASSINI Newsletters Index

To: Subscribers, Press, Government Officials

Subject: STOP CASSINI #156

Date: July 22nd, 1999

Time Frame: Cassini is scheduled to do the flyby of Earth August 18th, 1999 (August 17th in the USA) near Africa.

Today's Subjects:

(1) Introducing John P. Shannon, Major USMC (Retired)

Readers who have been following our discussions about the U. S. Navy's Nuclear Reactor program and their uselessness and vulnerability, will be very interested to hear about the fascinating man I met over the phone recently and with whom I had a long discussion.

His name is John P. Shannon. He is a retired U. S. Marine Corps Major, a Former Nuclear Physicist/Nuclear Engineer, a Former Supervising Nuclear Physicist/Engineer and Former Manager of Nuclear Safety, Industrial Safety/Industrial Hygiene at Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory. Here's the URL of his web site:

I spoke to him about a number of related issues and I think our conversations confirmed (again!) much of what I have been writing about the Nuclear Reactor Program of the United States Navy -- that it's a fraud. It's dangerous, it's useless, and it's extremely expensive even without anything going wrong! Worse yet, it does NOT protect America -- rather it makes us vulnerable.

Because of the possibility of an upcoming debate with J. R. Nyquist (see the previous newsletter, #155) I asked Mr. Shannon specifically about the effects of a nuclear Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) on commercial nuclear power plants. He stated that, "I don't believe anyone in the business has considered the EMP as one of the accident conditions."

It certainly would not have been considered back in the 1970's or earlier (when the commercial nuclear plants were all built) because back then, it wouldn't have had much effect on those plants, because they were built out of large, "discrete" components.

I pointed out that industrial pumps, for example, are often replaced as frequently as every couple of weeks, and computer controllers and starters would all have to be specifically "hardened" against the EMP, as well as any portions of the control panels for the reactors which might have been upgraded over the years to "efficient and reliable" computer control. Also the controls for the backup diesel generators -- they too would have to be "hardened" if they use any "high-tech" circuitry at all. And I pointed out that equipment upgrades are quite likely, since "efficiency" is the name-of-the-game in commercial power production, and such equipment greatly increases efficiency.

After I put all these considerations before him, Mr. Shannon responded, "I think you're right."

Of course, maybe J. R. Nyquist knows someone who can prove me wrong. But let me give some more of Jack Shannon's resume:

"Nuclear Reactor Physicist responsible for the design of the D2G Nuclear Reactor. This Nuclear Reactor is the most widely used Nuclear Reactor in the Naval Fleet. It is used on all High Speed Nuclear Attack Submarines and on all Nuclear Cruisers."

I should note that the nuclear reactors on board the subs and ships provide both propulsion and all the electrical power for the ship.

"Shannon was fired after 30 years employment at KAPL for reporting deplorable and blatant safety problems at the Kesselring Site Operations, a subsidiary site of KAPL."

We strongly urge all readers to visit his web site and help in any way you can to publicize his efforts on behalf of a better America. Here are some especially interesting URLs from Jack Shannon's web site:

Unsafe reactors at Kesselring Site Operation (KSO), located about 5 miles from Ballston Spa, NY, and 8 miles from the resort area of Saratoga Springs, NY:

The outrageous track record of the Navy Reactor Program:

Presidential Executive Order #12344 gives exemption from oversight:

KAPL Misuse of National Security:

The above page links to an incredibly undemocratic "gag order":

Freedom of Information Act is NOT ENOUGH! (sample of deletions):

Want to join the U. S. Navy? This will make you think twice:

GE workers have been poisoned by radiation and asbestos at Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory (discussion of an award-winning documentary):

Jack Shannon's General Electric Exam:

(2) NAVY whistleblower goes free (in Russia):

While an American whistleblower gets the runaround from the American authorities, a Russian whistleblower is set free by the Russian authorities:

In newsletter #141 (June 21st, 1999) we reported that Captain Grigory Pasko was facing treason and espionage charges for blowing the whistle on nuclear-waste dumping by the Russian Pacific Fleet (something we need patriotic American sailors admit to as well so we can find the waste and retrieve it for proper burial!). Pasko had been arrested in 1997.

The San Diego Union Tribune (July 21st, 1999) is reporting that the Russian Pacific Fleet military court has found Grigory Pasko INNOCENT, saying the information he passed to Japanese television "was not secret".

He was found guilty, however, of "abuse of service duty for personal gain and of violating the interests of society and the state" according to the article. But I doubt very much he has received any "personal gain" and there is absolutely NO QUESTION that he did what he did IN THE INTERESTS OF SOCIETY. And what is "the state", may I ask? Even in Russia, is it not simply the physical embodiment of society into an organized political tool which society uses to protect and to better itself? So publicizing nuclear crimes against humanity IS in the interests of society -- AND in the interests of all but the most corrupt states!

Although sentenced to three years in prison, he was immediately set free under an amnesty signed last month by Russian President Boris Yeltsin.

(3) Zenon Kulpa is pro-Cassini. Duly noted.

Occasionally I receive long-winded philosophical drivel in my "in" box which the author is apparently pleased as punch about and thinks they have answered all points in my 150+ newsletters and scores of articles, and effectively slain me with their words. The latest such email arrived from Zenon Kulpa last week.

Zenon Kulpa ( is pro-Cassini. Duly noted. His rambling diatribe asked if we had the "courage" to publish it. Lacking the "courage" to intentionally waste our reader's time, we declined because, as written, Kulpa's statement is pointless. However, we suggested to him that if he would merely supply us with an actual VALUE for how much death and destruction he would have allowed Cassini to carry (in Curies of Plutonium, under the exact same conditions and for the exact same science return) before he would join our side and oppose the mission, then suddenly his letter would make sense and we would then be far more inclined to publish it. (We did, however, send it (with our answer) to Louis Friedman and David Grinspoon and a few others.)

Those interested in the ramblings of a pro-Cassini philosopher with no known limit to his mad-scientist ideas are encouraged to contact him directly. Feel free of course, to let him know you are interested in my responses to him as well (if you like).

The next item is a quiz we wrote especially for Zenon Kulpa' enjoyment.

We will be doing another one soon with some of the "missing questions" we think readers of this newsletter and anyone interested in Cassini and with a fair amount of knowledge can probably answer, like, "Does Venus have an atmosphere?" (Yes, a thick one. It is very dense, like a rocket scientist's head.)

We invite readers to send us completed quizzes to show their own knowledge about Cassini -- and tell us how much plutonium THEY would have permitted on board Cassini, all other things being equal.

-- Russell Hoffman

(4) Cassini Quiz: 44 Questions:

All the answers to these questions are available at our web site, of course.


(1) How many RTGs (Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators) are there on Cassini?

(2) How many GPHSs (General Purpose Heat Sources) are there in each RTG?

(3) How many GISs (Graphite Impact Shells) are there in each GPHS?

(4) How much plutonium is there in each one?

(5) How many LWRHUs (Light Weight Radioactive Heater Units, also known simply as RHUs) are there on board Cassini (roughly, since I'm not sure NASA ever gave a final exact figure)?

(6) How much plutonium is there in each one?

(7) What is the likelihood, according to NASA, that the LWRHUs will incinerate in a reentry accident?

(8) What is the maximum percentage of plutonium which is EXPECTED to be vaporized in a reentry accident, according to page 4-51 of the June 1995 Environmental Impact Statement for the Cassini mission?

(9) What's the minimum EXPECTED to be vaporized, according to that same page?

(10) What particle size range and mean can be expected from a vaporization, if it is approximately the same as for the reentry which occurred in April 1964 which provided actual data regarding the vaporization characteristics of plutonium?

(11) What particle size is ideal for lodging permanently in a person's lung if it is inhaled?

(12) How much radiation do the cells around a particle of plutonium receive, according to the late Dr. Karl Z. Morgan and related to me in a conversation in 1997, which I described in a statement published in a NASA Cassini document?

(13) How many Curies of plutonium did SNAP-9A carry?

(14) What chance of reentry did NASA give for SNAP-9A?

(15) Did the SNAP-9A reenter Earth's atmosphere?

(16) How many Curies are there in 2.1 lbs plutonium, assuming the mix is the same as for NASA's radioactive thermoelectric generators?

(17) How much plutonium was on board Russia's Mars '96?

(18) Where is it now?

(19) How much plutonium was on board Apollo 13?

(20) Where is it now?

(21) Can you prove it's there? Have you seen it? Has anyone seen it?

(22) What were NASA's official odd's against a Space Shuttle failure prior to the Challenger accident?

(23) What were NASA's official odds on the same thing shortly after the Challenger accident?

(24) What is the half-life of Pu 236?

(25) What is the half-life of Pu 238?

(26) What is the half-life of Pu 239?

(27) What is the half-life of Pu 240?

(28) What is the half-life of Pu 241?

(29) What is the half-life of Pu 242?

(30) For the next seven questions, the launch weight percentage may be given:

(31) What percentage of Cassini's plutonium is Pu 236?

(32) What percentage of Cassini's plutonium is Pu 238?

(33) What percentage of Cassini's plutonium is Pu 239?

(34) What percentage of Cassini's plutonium is Pu 240?

(35) What percentage of Cassini's plutonium is Pu 241?

(36) What percentage of Cassini's plutonium is Pu 242?

(37) What percentage of the RTG fuel is oxygen?

(38) What kind of radiation does plutonium 238 give off?

(39) What is an alpha particle?

(40) If inhaled or ingested, is an alpha-emitter dangerous?

(41) If so, why?

(42) What health effects does plutonium cause?

(43) How much plutonium 239 is considered by most people in medical science to be a fatal dose, because it will almost surely cause lung cancer if lodged permanently in a lung?

(44) How much Pu 238 would it take to have the same radiological effect?

(5) Other Cassini Quizzes available on the Internet:

Cassini quiz by Kathy Spallone (also available at our web site in newsletter #25, August 1st, 1997):

NASA's Cassini quiz (utterly lame!):

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

To learn about the absurd excuses NASA used to launch Cassini 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

NASA states that they do not have the resources anymore to answer most emails they receive. Liars! They have $13 billion dollars to play with. They can answer the public's questions!

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

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

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


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

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

(7) Subscription information

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First placed online July 22nd, 1999.
Last modified July 24th, 1999.
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