Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

NASA acknowledges the risk of horrifying nuclear space accidents

 an accident in which plutonium is released by a space device as tiny particles falling to Earth maximizes its lethality. A millionth of a gram of plutonium can be a fatal dose. The pathway of greatest concern is the breathing in plutonium particle..

  As the NASA Environmental Impact Statement puts it: “Particles smaller than about 5 microns would be transported to and remain in the trachea, bronchi, or deep lung regions.” The plutonium particles “would continuously irradiate lung tissue.”

“A small fraction would be transported over time directly to the blood or to lymph nodes and then to the blood,” it continues. Once plutonium “has entered the blood via ingestion or inhalation, it would circulate and be deposited primarily in the liver and skeletal system.” Also, says the document, some of the plutonium would migrate to the testes or ovaries.

What Could Truly End the Space Program: A Nuclear Disaster OverheadOpED News, By Karl Grossman 21 July 11Between November 25 and December 15 NASA plans to launch for use on Mars a rover fueled with 10.6 pounds of plutonium, more plutonium than ever used on a rover.

The mission has a huge cost: $2.5 billion.

But if there is an accident before the rover is well on its way to Mars, and plutonium is released on Earth, its cost stands to be yet more gargantuan.

NASA’s Final Environmental Impact Statement for what it calls its Mars Science Laboratory Mission says that if plutonium is released on Earth, the cost could be as high as $1.5 billion to decontaminate each square mile of “mixed-use urban areas” impacted.

What”s the probability of an accident releasing plutonium? The NASA document says “the probability of an accident with a release of plutonium” is 1-in-220 “overall.”

If you knew your chance of not surviving an airplane flight–or just a drive in a car–was 1 in 220, would you take that trip?

And is this enormous risk necessary?

In two weeks, there’ll be a NASA mission demonstrating a clear alternative to atomic energy in space: solar power.

On August 5, NASA plans to launch a solar-powered space probe it’s named Juno to Jupiter. There’s no atomic energy involved, although NASA for decades has insisted that nuclear power is necessary for space devices beyond the orbit of Mars. With Juno, NASA will be showing it had that wrong…..

As notes Aviation Week and Space Technology: “The unique spacecraft will set a record by running on solar power rather than nuclear radioisotope thermoelectric generators previously used to operate spacecraft that far from the Sun.”

The Mars rover to be launched, named Curiosity by NASA, will be equipped with these radioisotope thermoelectric generators using plutonium, the deadliest radioactive substance.

Juno, a large craft–66-feet wide–will be powered by solar panels built by a Boeing subsidiary, Spectrolab. The panels can convert 28 percent of the sunlight that them to electricity. They’ll also produce heat to keep Juno’s instruments warm. This mission’s cost is $1.1 billion….

At no point will Juno (or the other solar spacecrafts) be a threat to life on Earth. This includes Juno posing no danger when in 2013 it makes a flyby of Earth. Such flybys making use of Earth’s gravity to increase a spacecraft’s velocity have constituted dangerous maneuvers when in recent years they’ve involved plutonium-powered space probes such as NASA’s Galileo and Cassini probes.

Curiosity is a return to nuclear danger……

Dr. Helen Caldicott, president emeritus of Physicians for Social Responsibility, has long emphasized that a pound of plutonium if uniformly distributed could hypothetically give a fatal dose of lung cancer to every person on Earth. A pound, even 10.6 pounds, could never be that uniformly distributed, of course. But an accident in which plutonium is released by a space device as tiny particles falling to Earth maximizes its lethality. A millionth of a gram of plutonium can be a fatal dose. The pathway of greatest concern is the breathing in plutonium particle..

As the NASA Environmental Impact Statement puts it: “Particles smaller than about 5 microns would be transported to and remain in the trachea, bronchi, or deep lung regions.” The plutonium particles “would continuously irradiate lung tissue.”

“A small fraction would be transported over time directly to the blood or to lymph nodes and then to the blood,” it continues. Once plutonium “has entered the blood via ingestion or inhalation, it would circulate and be deposited primarily in the liver and skeletal system.” Also, says the document, some of the plutonium would migrate to the testes or ovaries.

The cost of decontamination of areas affected by the plutonium could be, according to the NASA statement, $267 million for each square mile of farmland, $478 million for each square mile of forests and $1.5 billion for each square mile of “mixed-use urban areas.”……

http://www.opednews.com/articles/What-Could-Truly-End-the-S-by-Karl-Grossman-110721-80.html

July 21, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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