jueves, marzo 17, 2005

The Case Against the Plutonium Space Race. So what happens when the sky begins to fall?

By Karl Grossman

The reactor at the Idaho National Laboratory where plans for producing Plutonium-238 for use in space satellite power cells will be produced.
Twenty years ago, I began to learn about plutonium-238, the isotope of plutonium used in space. I was familiar with plutonium-239, built up in nuclear power plants and used in nuclear weapons. My first book on nuclear technology, Cover Up: What You ARE NOT Supposed to Know About Nuclear Power, was published in 1980.

I was reading, in 1985, a Department of Energy publication about plans by NASA, working with the DOE and several national laboratories, to launch two space shuttles carrying plutonium-fueled space probes the following year. One of the shuttles was to be the Challenger.

The publication, DOE Insider, stated that DOE had considered "postulated accidents" including "launch vehicle aborts, reentry, and impact and post impact situations." Knowing about the lethality of plutonium-long described as the most toxic radioactive substance with a particle less than a millionth of a gram lodged in a lung capable of being a fatal dose-I filed a Freedom of Information Act request with NASA, DOE and the national labs. The DOE Insider said "postulated accidents" on the shuttle shots were studied-what were the results?

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