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Re: Saturn Probe Pu Power?
If one pound of Pu distributed throughout the atmosphere can induce cancer
in every person on earth, what can the tonnes of U 235, Th 232 and U238
injected into the atmosphere do. I am very interested in your comments
Radiation Safety Services
Fax 61 294 1533
> From: Chris Davey <email@example.com>
> To: Multiple recipients of list <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Subject: Saturn Probe Pu Power?
> Date: Tuesday, 6 May 1997 3:45
> I got this message from a friend of mine today, and wondered if radsafers
> in a position to know the answers could respond:
> >"This is a message regarding your future. It is intended to reach as
> >internet users as possible as fast as possible. Thank you for taking the
> >time to read the following and forwarding it to friends, listservs,
> >newsgroups, should you judge it necessary.
> >Excerpt from the article "Risking the World" by Karl Grossman,
> >Professor of American Studies/SUNY:
> > "Despite enormous danger, huge expense, and a clear
> >alternative-solar powerthe US government is pushing ahead with the
> >deployment of nuclear technology in space. In October 1997, NASA plans
> >launch the Cassini probe to Saturn. Carrying 72.3 pounds of
> >fuelthe largest amount of plutonium ever used in space, the probe will
> >atop a Lockheed Martin-built Titan IV rocket. This same kind of rocket
> >undergone a series of mishaps including a 1993 explosion in California
> >soon after takeoff which destroyed a $1 billion spy satellite system and
> >sent its fragments falling into the Pacific Ocean.
> > Space News, the space industry trade newspaper, reported that "the
> >high risk and cost of the Cassini mission to Saturn troubled NASA
> >Administrator Daniel Goldin so much that he would cancel the program if
> >were not so important to planetary science."
> > But it is not science alone that is driving the project or causing
> >scientists, politicians, and the military to discount the risks. NASA
> >Chief Scientist Frances Cordova acknowledges that the Titan IV "does not
> >have a 100 percent success rate" and admits that using it for Cassini
> >truly putting all your eggs in one basketyour 18 instruments on one
> >firecracker." She says, "We can't fail with that mission. It would be
> >very, very, damaging for the agency."
> > To say nothing of the Earth and the life on it if something goes
> >wrong. Plutonium has long been described by scientists as the most toxic
> >substance known. It is "so toxic," says Dr. Helen Caldicott, founder of
> >Physicians for Social Responsibility, "that less than one millionth of a
> >gram is a carcinogenic dose. One pound, if uniformly distributed, could
> >hypothetically induce lung cancer in every person on Earth."
> > In addition to the specter of radioactivity spread by an accident
> >on launch, another, potentially more lethal, scenario is causing
> >Because Cassini does not have the propulsion power to get directly from
> >Earth to Saturn, NASA plans a "slingshot maneuver" in which the probe
> >circle Venus twice and hurtle back at Earth. It will then buzz the Earth
> >in August 1999 at 42,300 miles per hour just 312 miles above the
> >After whipping around Earth and using its gravity, Cassini would then
> >the velocity, says NASA, to reach Saturn. But during that Earth fly-by,
> >Cassini comes in too close, it could burn up in the 75 mile-high
> >atmosphere and disperse plutonium across the planet.
> > Dr. Michio Kaku, professor of nuclear pLysics at the City
> >University of New York, explains the catastrophic consequence of such a
> >fly-by accident:
> > If there is a small misfire [of Cassini's] rocket system, it
> >will mean that [it] will penetrate into the Earth's atmosphere and the
> >sheer friction will begin to wipe out the heat shield and it will, like
> >meteor, flame into the Earth's atmosphere ... This thing, coming into
> >Earth's atmosphere, will vaporize, release the payload and then
> >of plutoninm dioxide will begin to rain down on populated areas, if that
> >is where the system is going to be hitting. [Pulverized plutonium dust]
> >will rain down on people's hair, people's clothing, get into people's
> >bodies. And because it is not water soluble, there is a very good chance
> >that it could be inhaled and stay within the body causing cancer over a
> >number of decades.
> > Indeed, NASA says in its First Environmental Impact Statement for
> >the Cassini Mission, that if an "inadvertent reentry occurred" during
> >fly-by, approximately five billion of the seven to eight billion people
> >Earth, "could receive 99 percent or more of the radiation exposure."
> > Starting in 1961, General Electric's RTGs were put into use for
> >space satellites until a 1964 accident in which a SNAP-9A (Systems for
> >Nuclear Auxiliary Power) fell to earth burning up in the atmosphere.
> >According to a 1989 report by European nuclear agencies, the satellites
> >2.1 pounds of plutonium-238 "vaporized" and "dispersed widely." After
> >conducting a worldwide sampling, scientists found "SNAP-9A debris to be
> >present at all continents and all latitudes." Dr. John Gofman, professor
> >emeritus of medical physics at the Unversity of California at Berkeley,
> >M.D. and Ph.D. and a codiscoverer of isotopes of plutonium and uranium
> >a member of the Manhattan Project, has long attributed an increased rate
> >of lung cancer to the SNAP-9A incident."
> >For access to the article in its entirety or for further action, please
> >to http://userwww.service.emory.edu/~icousin/