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  Govt. Ups Estimate of Plutonium Waste

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Topic:   Govt. Ups Estimate of Plutonium Waste

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Take It To The Limit

Flagstaff, AZ
700 posts, Jul 2000

posted 02-04-2001 06:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Deborah     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Am cleaning house here and came across this just now - it is no longer available on the [old] Reuters site, so I wanted to get it in here:

Paper: Government Ups Estimate of Plutonium Waste

Last updated: 21 Oct 2000 17:02 GMT (Reuters)

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Energy Department has increased by 10 times its estimate of how much plutonium and other man-made radioactive material has been released in the ground or buried in poorly built containers, The New York Times said on Saturday.

The Times said that the department for years had stated that more than 97 percent of plutonium and related waste generated by the first four decades of nuclear weapons production was in "retrievable" storage awaiting burial at a new depository.

Only about 3 percent had been placed in soil or buried, it said.

Energy Department officials now say there is 10 times the amount of such wastes in the soil and in inadequate containers than previously estimated, the Times said.

The new estimate was said to come three years after an environmental group called the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research said the government's data was inconsistent and contradictory.

Dr. Arjun Makhijani, president of the group, told the Times that the government was doing little to address the problem of wastes in the dirt and in rusty, leaking barrels.

The Times cited a July letter to Makhijani from Carolyn Huntoon, assistant secretary for environmental management at the Energy Department, saying the department would not change the way it was managing the buried wastes.

The department's policy is to gather information on them and review them on a case-by-case basis, it said.

In a statement to the newspaper on Friday, Huntoon said the department would ask the National Academy of Sciences to review the Energy Department's strategies.

Huntoon added that the National Academy of Sciences backs the department's policies toward the wastes.

The Times said it was unclear how much material had leached into the ground at dump sites around the country. END

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Take It To The Limit

Flagstaff, AZ
700 posts, Jul 2000

posted 02-04-2001 08:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Deborah     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here's another one. I think I'll just keep putting these in here as I come across them:

Scripps Howard News Service
August 11, 2000

New 'all gas' chemical laser ideal for space, says chemist

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - A new, lightweight, "all gas" chemical laser, which could enable a range of future laser weapons systems, has been invented by the Air Force Research Laboratory in Albuquerque.

The laboratory's directed energy research directorate at Kirtland Air Force Base says technical details of the All Gas Iodine Laser, or AGIL, will be revealed at an international laser symposium next month in Italy.

"We envision it to be a broad-based laser for a variety of Air Force missions," said Tom Henshaw, an Air Force physical chemist. "It would be readily adaptable to airborne and spaceborne (weapons) platforms."

The laser generates light energy when operators mix two gases, nitrogen chloride and iodine, in a confined vacuum chamber.

Henshaw said AGIL remains purely a scientific demonstration laser, but ultimately researchers say they believe it will have greater utility and versatility than even the Air Force's main battle laser, the Chemical Oxygen Iodine Laser, or COIL.

Also invented by the Air Force lab in 1977, COIL currently is the heart of the $1.2 billion Air Force Airborne Laser Attack Aircraft, a prototype of which is under construction and scheduled for tactical anti-missile tests in 2003.

COIL was the first "continuous wave electronic transition chemical laser," and AGIL is the second. But researchers think its gas form will make it far more valuable.

Henshaw, the lead researcher on a team of five Air Force scientists credited with developing AGIL, said a basic weapon-size AGIL laser will take at least until 2003 to develop, demonstrate and test.

But if it is successful, it might be adapted into future versions of the airborne laser. The Air Force has proposed spending $11 billion to field a fleet of airborne lasers that could be used for battlefield anti-missile defense, knocking down enemy missiles from a distance of at least 250 miles.

Henshaw said AGIL's applications could include space and air missile defense, as well as tactical uses in battlefield scenarios, possibly including in fixed, ground-based laser systems and aboard mobile jet fighters, mainly because of its lighter weight.

It might even be better than the brute force of the hydrogen fluoride laser that is currently considered the core of the Air Force's Space Based Laser development program in Southern California.

He said that other AGIL advantages that could make it ideal for space include: quicker mixing of gas in zero gravity, tighter focusing through atmospheric distortions because of its short wavelength of 1.315 microns (a micron is a millionth of a meter), and a 'built in" heat-rejection feature that allows it to exhaust harmful waste heat during lasing.

"AGIL has much better atmospheric transmission, we think, than HF (hydrogen fluoride)," Henshaw said. That would be important for a laser weapon needed to fire down from space to reach targets in the atmosphere or even perhaps "near the surface of the Earth."

The experimental AGIL, which currently has the only power of several laser pointers at 180 milliwatts, could be developed into a battle-size kilowatt or megawatt laser, assuming remaining scientific and technical issues can be resolved.

"Basically, can we scale it up to the powers we want?" asked Henshaw, who credited fellow physical chemist, Gordon Hager, AGIL program manager, with first proposing a gas laser could be developed back in 1995.

The team spent five years and about $2 million to reach the point in February when the scientists demonstrated that AGIL works in the lab.

Henshaw said AGIL's potential commercial uses may be limited because of the hazardous gases that it uses, which he said are "very energetic and explosive."

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Take It To The Limit

Flagstaff, AZ
700 posts, Jul 2000

posted 02-04-2001 11:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Deborah     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
More "interesting news":

Tiff between White house, MIT professor gets personal

By David Abel, Boston Globe Correspondent, 8/9/2000

It's the most contentious national security debate since the Cold War: whether or not to build a $60 billion missile defense system involving technologies so sophisticated that some haven't even been invented.

For two key players in the debate - outspoken Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Ted Postol and White House Chief of Staff John Podesta - it's also an exercise that has degenerated into name-calling.

"I must say that the overall impression you leave from your correspondence," said Podesta in a handwritten response last week to Postol's drubbing of the administration's antimissile plan, "is that your brilliance is only exceeded by your arrogance."

Insulted, Postol fired right back with sarcasm:

"I do not rule out that I could be wrong - I am not so arrogant as to deny that possibility - and that there is some subtle point of basic science ... known only to you and your advisors, but not to Nobel laureates."

With that, what started as a dry, substantive scientific analysis completed its descent into shallow sniping.

The war of words has been brewing since May when Postol, a physicist who is one of the leading critics of pricey Pentagon programs, sent the White House a detailed critique explaining why its antimissile plan won't work.

The 54-year-old professor was a scientific adviser to the chief of naval operations in the 1980s and helped develop the Trident 2 missile. He believes the antimissile system's technology is unable to distinguish between a potential enemy's decoys and real nuclear warheads. A few balloons, he says, might be sufficient to fool the antimissiles.

For nearly three months, Postol waited for a reply to his pointed criticism, only to receive what he considered to be a form letter from the White House: three paragraphs thanking him for his interest in the issue and reiterating the president's mantra on missile defense.

The lack of any appreciation of his critique rankled him, so the scientist fired off a missive to Podesta:

"The almost comically unresponsive letter you sent to me more than two months after being informed about these serious matters adds to my concern that you and others on the White House staff have not taken your responsibilities seriously."

To date, neither the Pentagon nor the White House has provided Postol with a detailed response. The administration's reticence has also angered other scientists around the country, who have rallied behind Postol's criticism.

Those calling for a halt in the move to deploy an antiballistic missile force include major scientific groups such as the Federation of American Scientists, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the American Physical Society, and 50 Nobel Prize-winning scientists who have called the planned system "premature, wasteful, and dangerous."

Before the White House responded with its "form letter" in July, Postol says the administration's only response had been to try to silence him. Shortly after the scientist's initial letter arrived at the White House, the Pentagon classified it a secret, making a public response impossible.

A few weeks later, the Pentagon dispatched agents from the Defense Security Service to admonish Postol to keep quiet about sensitive data.

But Ted Postol is not a man who treads lightly over billion-dollar programs that might not work. Nearly a decade ago, the missile specialist gained acclaim in scientific circles and disdain in the Pentagon after debunking the "success" of Raytheon Corp.'s Patriot missile during the Gulf War. His analysis prompted the Army and Raytheon to reduce Patriot's claimed success rate by half. [Note: which is, in fact, the true assessment, observed by all who followed this closely at the time.]

And the bearded, no-frills physicist doesn't take kindly to personal attacks. He calls Podesta's note "out of line" and "insulting."

According to Postol's analysis, the Pentagon has rigged missile tests to ensure success. After a 1997 test of the antimissile revealed it couldn't effectively distinguish decoys from warheads, he says, the Pentagon stopped using decoys that would seriously challenge the defensive weapon.

The physicist also accuses the Pentagon of significantly reducing the difficulty of the next 14 tests planned before the antimissile system would be deployed in 2005.

The Pentagon has so far dismissed Postol's criticism as based on old data and plans still in the making.

This story ran on page B1 of the Boston Globe on 8/9/2000.
Copyright 2000 Globe Newspaper Company.

[This story is no longer available on the Boston Globe site.]

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Take It To The Limit

Flagstaff, AZ
700 posts, Jul 2000

posted 02-05-2001 08:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Deborah     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Some links to go with the story directly above:

The Target is Russia: Theodore A. Postol [March/April 2000 Bulletin of Atomic Scientists

Vardo Exposed by Inge Sellevag

The US kept silent about ABM Treaty problem by Inge Sellevag

The Globus II Radar and Norwegian Surveillance Activities in the North


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Senior Member

Sedona, AZ 86339
149 posts, Oct 2000

posted 02-06-2001 02:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for sedona     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't offhand see how humanity is going to up it's seemingly terminal sub-survival level I.Q. in time to FIX THIS.

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