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Nuke Test Ban Treaty and Campaign Finance Reform Defeated * Responses to the DoE

Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Defeated by U.S. Congress
Campaign Finance Reform Defeated by U.S. Congress

Senator John McCain called the system corrupt. Just recently India and Pakistan tested nuclear weapons, adding more nuclear pollution into our environment. By defeating the Test Ban Treaty, Congress loses any credibility that the U.S. had for disarmament interests. Current policies place profits over true national/international security and democratic ideals.

What can you do?

Write, call and meet with the U.S. Department of Energy to stop their plans for expanding plutonium isotope production. This is a small step, but in a better direction than where we are headed.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) scoping meeting for the programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS) for accomplishing expanded civilian nuclear energy research and development and isotope production missions in the United States, including the role of the Fast Flux Test Facility.

Please respond by going to the public meeting:
(Each person will receive at least a five minute time slot to make a statement)

Wednesday, October 27, 1999, 2-5 p.m.
The Mariott at Metro center
775 12th Street, NW
Washington, D.C.

Or Call Toll Free to Make Your Statement

Or add your statement by E-mail to:

Following are examples of responses. For more information see:

Colette Brown
Office of Nuclear Energy
Science and Technology (NE-50)
U.S. Department of Energy
19901 Germantown Road
Germantown, Maryland 20874

Re: U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) intent to prepare a programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS) for accomplishing expanded civilian nuclear energy research and development and isotope production missions in the United States, including the role of the Fast Flux Test Facility.

October 4, 1999

Dear Ms. Brown:

I oppose expansion of isotope production. If we keep taking chances with isotopes that are toxic and known to cause mutations and cancers in living cells we will unnecessarily continue threatening life on Earth. I have read the letter sent to you on this subject by Jonathan Mark. It sufficiently documents the technical reasons for opposing the development, let alone the intended uses of harmful isotopes. Think of the self-defeating behavior which DOE is proposing. Think of their potential impacts on your friends and family—for countless generations to come!

Jerry C. Bosworth
321 Beale St.
Brooksville, FL 34601-2029


Dear Colette Brown,

I am in support of a "No Action" alternative where there would be no domestic capability to produce Plutonium-238 for future space missions.

I have a two year old child and want him to grow up into a healthy adult in a safe world. There are clearly alternatives to Plutonium for space travel and the horrors of nuclear war are unthinkable. I urge you to do all that is within your power to stop any further production of Plutonium and to divert resources to non-nuclear, non-fossil fuels. Individual moral responsibility must outweigh political considerations.


Paul Kirsch
Administrative Assistant, UCLA
Paul Kirsch


To Whom It May Concern:

Lately, I have been reading a lot about the Cassini fly-by and other issues related to nuclear power used in space vehicles. Consequently I also did some research on low-level radiation and the opposed viewpoints on its effect on humans and other life forms.

I am convinced that the current mainstream attitude towards this radiation may be in error. There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that the current estimates of risk may be based on false assumptions.

In 1997, Tom K. Hei and co-workers at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York found that there is no safe dose for alpha particles (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')."

I often hear the counter argument that humans are already exposed to much greater levels of low-level radiation from natural sources. Why then should we be worried about adding another source? John Goffman, M.D., Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, explains why: "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 the 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."

Do the benefits of the DOE proposal to expand civilian nuclear energy research and development and isotope production outweigh the risks entailed by the increased potential exposure to ionizing radiation? I do not think so.

The DOE states in the Federal Register, vol. 64, no. 178, that the purpose of expanding the program is threefold: "(1) The production of isotopes for medical and industrial uses, (2) the production of plutonium-238 for use in advanced radioisotope power systems for future National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) space missions, and 3) the Nation's nuclear research and development needs.

Considering the recent situation with the Cassini spacecraft, item #2 is uppermost on my mind. After reading much e-mail from an organization opposed to the fly-by and the counter arguments on NASA's website, I concluded that concern over the fly-by was probably over-stated. The odds of an accidental release of plutonium occuring as a result of collision with earth's atmosphere seemed very small (one in a million by NASA's reckoning).

Then came the news last week regarding the navigational errors that led to the Mars explorer vaporizing in Mars's atmosphere. Apparently, the JPL's risk evaluations do not sufficiently account for the most common cause of accidents -- human error.

Considering this recent very indisputable evidence of the very real dangers of the use of radioactive materials in spacecraft that could potentially release their radioactive contents and expose humans to ionizing radiation, I have concluded that NASA should abandon its current dependence on plutonium and further develop the solar alternative. (As far as I know, the Mars explorer did not contain any plutonium, as this is used only in deep space flights. However, the incident clearly demonstrates that the risks of miscalculation are much higher than originally estimated for the Cassini mission and others like it.)

I am also concerned that the FFTF at Hanford would be the site for plutonium-238 production. I live in Washington State and have followed the Hanford clean-up issue for years. As I understand, the clean-up is far from complete and many serious problems with progress have recently been reported in the news. Until DOE can prove its reliability in this area, I do not want to see it producing more dangerous material that could add to an already huge problem.

Included in the list of industrial uses is food sterilization to which I am adamantly opposed. Civilization has done a great deal to improve the quality and abundance of our food supply through numerous human improvements on nature -- by which I mean everything from agriculture to refrigeration. It seems to me food irradiation is overkill as well as potentially harmful.

As for the third use, "Euclear research and development needs" I would rather see the DOE spend a greater effort on alternatives to nuclear and carbon-based fuels. Rather than further promote nuclear fuel usage by providing assistance to commercial reactors seeking license renewal or helping with international fusion research, the DOE could be helping lead humanity towards the cleanest, most renewable and potentially cheapest source of energy we know of: the sun.

Finally, the last use mentioned, "non-proliferation programs" contains an encouraging concept: "Eto safely convert plutonium-based materials for disposition Equot; Otherwise, I do not see any of the uses outlined in the statement as sufficiently benefiting humanity to outweigh the risks of ionizing radiation that would be promoted under the proposed program.

In conclusion, I am for the "No Action" alternative, although an even better alternative would be for the DOE to start to move away from nuclear energy altogether and take leadership in the area of providing energy from the source (the sun) that has the highest potential for providing clean, safe, low-cost energy for endless generations to come.

David Sokal
Seattle, WA

for letters to the DOE by Jonathan Mark and Russell Hoffman of the Stop Cassini Homepage.


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