AW: RE: [ RadSafe ] The HortonSphere Niagara Falls New YorkArea

Franz Schönhofer franz.schoenhofer at
Fri Sep 26 11:16:28 CDT 2008


Your explanation for the "ball and pile reactor" seems to me to make
sense. I remember this old design, which was called "pebble bed reactor" (in
German "Kugelhaufenreaktor"), but am rather sure that a lot of research on
it was done at the Austrian (Nuclear) Research Institut as a subcontractor
to the British. Faintly I remember that a kind of a prototype was developed
in Germany, but never reached full operation. Less faintly I think to
remember that South Africa is working on such a kind of reactor, may be
close to the goal. I have not made any closer research into it, because I
believe that there are many more collegues at RADSAFE who are much better
informed than I am. Please explain!

I had really exactly the same thoughts as Mike Brennan on the significance
of claiming to have found plutonium, polonium, caesium and fission products,
without telling about the quantities. Even more, if waste from another
nuclear installation has been officially brought to this site. "Traces" of
these radionuclides  m u s t  be found there or otherwise the analytical
procedures (not only gammaspectrometry) must be wrong or unacceptably
insensitive. (It is the same with this ridiculous "Tooth Fairy Project" as I
have written several times on Radsafe: If one cannot find any Sr-90 in teeth
anywhere in the world, then something is wrong with the analysis. (BTW, I
have not heard anything about this project since a very long time - is it
still done, have they run out of supporters who waste their money or have
they been convinced by now, that it is nonsense? The latter I doubt....)

Finally, I cannot really understand the goal of these "relevations". It
seems to be a fact that there is contamination there and as far as I
understand it is there, whether a nuclear reactor had been in operation or
not. (Where is the infrastructure hidden?) So what? Yes, it might be of
historical interest, but not of any radiological one. 

Some RADSAFErs might know that I am very interested in the history of
nuclear power and nuclear bombs, I have a lot of books on that topic, even
historical ones. But I have never read about any reactor in that area or any
research for the Manhattan Project. To my opinion the reports about the
circumstances of the history of the Manhattan Project are rather detailed
and open nowadays. Even the report of H.D. Smythe, which was authorized for
publication in August 1945 gives to my surprise a lot of information, which
probably would not have been given during the cold war. I am the proud owner
of two copies of this report - one is the original one, printed in the USA
and the other one was printed obviously immediately thereafter (1945) in
London. Any financial offers for either of them are useless, they are not
for sale!

Could it be that some people like to play Sherlock Holmes? But they forgot
the magnifying glass.

Best regards,

Franz Schoenhofer, PhD
MinRat i.R.
Habicherg. 31/7
A-1160 Wien/Vienna

-----Ursprüngliche Nachricht-----
Von: radsafe-bounces at [mailto:radsafe-bounces at] Im Auftrag
von Douglas Minnema
Gesendet: Freitag, 26. September 2008 14:42
An: radsafe at
Cc: Matt Moury; James Liverman
Betreff: Fwd: RE: [ RadSafe ] The HortonSphere Niagara Falls New YorkArea

Fascinating story! 
However, what was really fascinating was when I googled the phrase "ball and
pile reactor."  (After all my years working with research reactors, I had
never heard of one.)  The only hit on the entire internet was this same
article.  Then I googled the words ball and pile reactor (no quotations),
and found out about a German design for a reactor where the fuel is
fabricated as small spheres and they are piled up in the reactor.  In other
words, it was a pile of balls, not a pile in a ball.
One look at the photo with the ball in clear view, and you'll recognize the
same chemical storage tank design as what you will find at any of a thousand
industrial sites.
Oh well, enough fun - time to get back to work.
Doug Minnema, PhD, CHP

>>> "Brennan, Mike  (DOH)" <Mike.Brennan at DOH.WA.GOV> 9/25/2008 7:42 PM >>>
>From the article:  

"The existence on the LOOW of particularly exotic transuranics (that is,
above uranium on the periodic table) and fission materials-isotopes of
plutonium, uranium, cesium, polonium, and other elements that are
produced only inside nuclear reactors and by nuclear explosions-has
begged an explanation for decades."

Uranium and polonium are naturally occurring; not very hard to explain.
I would want to see the raw data that they base the conclusion that they
found plutonium, as I have caught activists lying to reporters about
this before.  Cesium is a fallout constituent; if you take a soil sample
and you don't find some Cs-137, check to make sure your MCA is working.

"There is also polonium-210 on site. According to Bob Nichols, a San
Francisco-based researcher and writer who reviewed the same documents as
Weyman, polonium was used as a trigger in nuclear weapons. Its presence
in quantities sufficient to detect all these years and half-lives later
is not easily explained by the KAPL wastes."

Depending on the concentration, the most likely source of Po-210 is
ongoing production from the radon decay chain.  The article repeatedly
invokes Occam's razor, but the authors (and the people feeding them the
"information") decline to use it if it doesn't support the most exciting
answer.  Similarly, as they didn't give any actual data, it is
impossible to conclude if they actually found transuranic isotopes and
fission fragments in quantities that can't be explained by fallout, or
indeed if they found them at all, rather than mis-identify spectra lines
(things I personally have seen activists do on more than one occasion).

"Bob Nichols, the San Francisco-based writer who came to the same
conclusion as Weyman about the ball buried on the NFSS, specializes in
the history of this second track of research. He draws a straight line
that connects the radiological warfare program to American research into
poison gases, such as mustard gas and chlorine gas (both of which were
produced in Niagara County), during the First World War; that line
passes through the Manhattan Project along the way, and continues to the
present-day use of depleted uranium munitions, which release a cloud of
poisonous ceramicized uranium particles as a form of gas when they
vaporize on impact."

Sigh.  It is sad that the authors don't know that connecting the dots
looses its significance if the only criteria for the dots placement is
that they connect to form the picture that springs from the connecter's

-----Original Message-----
From: radsafe-bounces at [mailto:radsafe-bounces at] On
Behalf Of roger helbig
Sent: Thursday, September 25, 2008 1:55 PM
To: radsafe at 
Subject: [ RadSafe ] The HortonSphere Niagara Falls New York Area 

Article is quite interesting until it gets to Ted Weymann (a Physicist?)
and the UMRC -- they probably need a lot of correction from that point

Roger Helbig

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