From: "Russell D. Hoffman" <>
Subject: Re: Dr. Lefteri H. Tsoukalas (a response to your letter to me)

To: "Lefteri H. Tsoukalas" <>, <>

October 25th, 2005

Dr. Tsoukalas,

Below are several articles quoting you, and a recently published letter by you.  I have also included your email to me, which you sent me in December 2004, and my response (sent to you in March, 2005), which you have not answered.

I think you are doing the public a disservice by claiming the Purdue reactor is properly protected when clearly it is not.  I think the public needs to be told the truth about how dangerous our research reactors -- not just Purdue's -- really are.  And how useless they are, too.

The Journal and Courier articles shown below are dishonest and absurd.  Purdue's reactor undoubtedly contains hundreds of millions, if not billions of Curies of intensely radioactive material comprised of a wide spectrum of elements -- the whole periodic table. More than enough to cause any evil-minded terrorist to consider it a tempting target.  More than enough to cause the permanent closure of the entire Purdue University campus if that material were released into the local environment.  That the reactor can produce even one watt of electricity means it contains enough radioactive material to kill millions of people if it got out.  And it also means it generates long-lived radioactive WASTE which must also be guarded, permanently and absolutely without error, for hundreds of thousands of years.  That is sure to cost millions of dollars Purdue does not have.

How many of your students have eagerly decided they wish to study the safe and COST-EFFECTIVE disposal of nuclear waste?  And how many want to build the next generation of nuclear reactors?

Well, we need the former, and we don't need the latter.

Have you read NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS AS WEAPONS FOR THE ENEMY: AN UNRECOGNIZED MILITARY PERIL, by Bennett Ramberg (University of California Press, Studies in International and Strategic Affairs, William Potter, Editor, Center for International and Strategic Affairs, University of California, Los Angeles, CA  (“Introduction to the Paperback Edition” Copyright 1984 by the Regents of the University of California).  D.C. Heath and Co., 1980, 1984)?  If not, I suggest you do.  If you can't find a copy, I can send you one.

In the copy of this letter which I will send you by postal mail, I will also be including a copy of my book, Protecting California:  Preserving Our Environment for Future Generations: Why San Onofre Cannot Be Part of the Solution, written just after I sent my previous email to you this spring, which explains why there is no way any nuclear reactor -- research, commercial, or military -- is properly protected from terrorism.

I respectfully request that you re-address ALL these issues, along with the issue that we don't need the services of the people you are training to run reactors right now.  We don't need them because we should shut the reactors down instead.

In light of the statements you have been making about the safety of the Purdue reactor, such as those shown below, which are false and misleading, I also am asking you to submit your resignation to the president of Purdue University, who, along with ABC News and a few local (Indiana) papers, will also be getting a copy of this letter.


Russell Hoffman
Concerned Citizen
Carlsbad, CA

Note: The following people -- and many others -- are concurrently being sent this document:

David Lochbaum (Reactor Engineer, Union of Concerned Scientists)
Richard E. Webb,  (Naval Reactor Engineer, Author: "The Accident Hazards of Nuclear Power Plants")
Jack Shannon, USMC, Ret. (Reactor Designer at KAPL)
Ed Siegel (Metallurgist, Nuclear Reactors)
Helen Caldicott (Physician, Lecturer, Author: "The New Nuclear Danger" and many other books on nuclear and related issues)
Paul Gunter (Director, Nuclear Information Research Service)
Winonah Hauter (Director, Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program, Public Citizen)
Sidney Goodman (Eng., Author: "Asleep at the Geiger Counter")
Conrad Miller (Physician, Author: "The Most Important Issues Americans THINK They Know Enough About")
Janette D. Sherman (Physician, Author: "Life's Delicate Balance: Causes and Prevention of Breast Cancer" and "Chemical Exposure and Disease")
Judith Johnsrud (Scientist, Author)
Leuren Moret (Scientist, Author)
Rosalie Bertell (Physician, Scientist, Author: "Planet Earth: The Latest Weapon of War" and many other books on nuclear and related issues)
Marvin Resnikoff (Scientist, Author)

The following will be sent paper transcripts:
Marion Fulk (Manhattan Project Scientist, LLNL)
Carrie Barefoot Dickerson (Activist, Author: "Aunt Carrie's War Against BLACK FOX Nuclear Power Plant)
Pamela Blockey O'Brien (Peace activist, author)

... and many others will receive this electronically
... but not (at least not directly)
... Dr. Bruce Blair, CDI

Included below:
(1) I think cancer, leukemia and birth deformities are "offensive"
(2) Is "far-fetched" good enough when the event would be catastrophic?
(3) Guest Column in the Journal and Courier by Lefteri H. Tsoukalas (with commentary by rdh)
(4) The Hazards of Radioactive Smoke Detectors (correspondence + article by Rosalie Bertell)
(5) Dr. Tsoukalas' & Russell Hoffman's prior correspondence
(6) Contact information for Russell Hoffman

(1) I think cancer, leukemia and birth deformities are "offensive":

Note: The editorial shown below may be right that ABC has moved on to other "stories," but the real watchdogs -- and the terrorists -- have not.  Who will win?  Will the watchdogs save the world, or will the terrorists (or Mother Nature or "unsafe procedures") destroy it?  Stay tuned, but so far, the watchdogs are losing. -- rdh



10/19/05 **** RADIATION BULLETIN (RADBULL) **** VOL 13.243
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37 Journal and Courier: Beyond the fear factor on campus nuclear reactors

Online - Editorial

PUBLISHED: 10-19-05 6:00 AM EST

As offended Purdue University nuclear scientists pointed out
last week, ABC News' reporting about alleged security lapses at
research nuclear reactors on U.S. campuses tapped genuine
nuclear fears harbored by the American public.

Could terrorists blow up nuclear reactors on our campuses,
including a relatively low-powered one at the West Lafayette
university? Worse, could terrorists steal the material and use
it to create a "dirty bomb" and blow up something else?

Hidden camera work showing graduate students getting what looked
like relatively easy access to tours from seemingly overly
accommodating campus guides aimed straight for high fear-factor

The report didn't have Purdue student running through campus,
waving their arms in the air. But it did get a rise out the
administration, which quickly dismissed a report that also was
derided as overblown and sensational by the Nuclear Regulatory

If anything, the ABC report served as an entry into what Purdue
is doing with a research reactor that the university says has
the power to run 10 light bulbs -- not exactly making it a prime
candidate for a would-be terrorist's interest. And it revealed
again how touchy the subject is to a public wary of nuclear

Purdue can't take any precautions lightly, no matter how
low-powered its nuclear research facility is and no matter how
shaky the reporting into security might be. But the explanations
from Lefteri Tsoukalas, head of Purdue's School of Nuclear
Engineering, and others were enough to instill a measure of
confidence that the university is living up to national
standards on protecting its research facility.

And by this week, ABC's Primetime was on to the next shocking
story, touting a story about singing twins ... with a
white-power twist. (They look like the Olsen twins, a promo run
this week teased, but wait until you hear what they're singing.)
If nuclear swindles waiting to happen didn't grab the American
public, aspiring Hitler youth just might.

Copyright © 2005, Federated Publications, Inc. A Gannett Site.


(2) Is "far-fetched" good enough when the event would be catastrophic?:


10/14/05 **** RADIATION BULLETIN (RADBULL) **** VOL 13.239
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21 Purdue Professor: Nuclear Reactor Is Safe

University Says ABC's Suggestion Of Risk Is Far-Fetched

POSTED: 8:18 pm EST October 13, 2005

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Reacting to an ABC News report that
criticizes security at Purdue University's nuclear reactor, a
professor in charge of the reactor said Thursday that it is well
protected and safe.

ABC News, which has been evaluating nuclear threats in the U.S.
on segments airing on "World News Tonight" and other network
shows, reported that it sent two women to Purdue to pose as
prospective students and see how easily they could access the
reactor facility.

The women, using a video camera, showed that they had easy
access to reactor's building at all hours and -- although the
reactor itself was behind a series of locked doors and other
layers of security -- they were able to get a tour of the
reactor area while carrying bags.

ABC security consultants believe the bags could have carried
enough explosives to blow up the reactor -- effectively becoming
what is known as a dirty bomb, causing the deaths of a
significant number of Purdue students.

Previous Slideshow: Students Shocked To Find Easy Access
Video: Professor Says Nuclear Reactor Is Safe

Lefteri Tsoukalas, a Purdue nuclear engineering professor who is
responsible for the reactor, told Call 6 for Help's Rafael
Sanchez that the building is accessible to anyone on campus
because classes are held there. However, while giving Sanchez a
tour, Tsoukalas stressed that accessing the reactor area
requires and ID check and someone to allow passage through
locked doors.

Federal rules prohibit the site from revealing its security
plans. Purdue says ABC's suggestion that people are at risk is

"It's a very safe facility," Tsoukalas said Thursday.

ABC News reported that the women were granted a tour of the
reactor area without anyone checking the bags, despite walking
past a sign that said packages were subject to search.

Tsoukalas said bag searches are done at the discretion of the
person managing the site. He also said that the reactor's highly
enriched uranium can be removed only by special equipment.

Purdue says its reactor is low-power, capable at full force of
powering only 10 100-watt light bulbs.

ABC News chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross told RTV6
that Purdue officials "have to be embarrassed" because they
allowed the women near the reactor with unchecked bags.

Copyright 2005 by TheIndyChannel.comAll rights reserved. This

(3) Guest Column in the Journal and Courier by Lefteri H. Tsoukalas (with commentary by rdh):

Note:  Comments in triple brackets ( [[[ ]]] ) have been added by Russell D. Hoffman. -- rdh



10/16/05 **** RADIATION BULLETIN(RADBULL) **** VOL 13.240
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23 Journal and Courier: ABC's nuclear over-reaction

Guest Column

PUBLISHED: 10-16-05 6:00 AM EST

By Lefteri Tsoukalas
For the Journal and Courier

As a nuclear engineer, I believe deeply that nuclear energy has
vast potential to make our lives better: through generation of
electrical power, through creation of new and better procedures
to diagnose and treat disease, through development of enhanced
scientific processes, through industrial applications.

[[[ Less than 0.0000000001% (one trillionth) of all radioactive materials created by mankind are actually useful in curing disease.  The rest is useful only in CREATING disease. -- rdh ]]]

I also understand and respect the enormous destructive power of
this form of energy. I appreciate the fact that many people have
a deep-seated fear of the dangers nuclear power presents when it
is used for hostile purposes or mishandled. However, I know that
when properly managed, nuclear power is safe and efficient, and
I believe the American public will benefit from acquiring a
better understanding of the science to which I have devoted my

[[[ If you believe the public will benefit from understanding nuclear issues, then why didn't you answer my previous letter?  And what about the nuclear facilities that aren't properly managed?  Mistakes of the students ARE the fault of the teachers -- and the public suffers no matter who is at fault when a nuclear accident occurs. -- rdh ]]]

That is why I am deeply disturbed by an ABC news report aired by
the network on Oct. 13. The report cynically exploited people's
instinctive fear of nuclear energy by misrepresenting both the
threat from, and the nature of, research reactors, such as the
one for which I am responsible at Purdue University. ABC sent
college students who were working as journalism interns to a
number of university reactor facilities, including the one at
Purdue. The idea was to see whether they could get into the
facilities and to assess security measures.

[[[ And they could get in.   The reactors, one after another after another, were virtually entirely unprotected. -- rdh ]]]

The interns had no trouble gaining access because we welcome
visitors to the reactor. In fact, our Web site and printed
literature invite the public to schedule tours, which are
conducted by staff trained in the Nuclear Regulatory
Commission's security measures. The ABC interns saw what any
visitor would see. If they had identified themselves as
investigative journalists, they would have been given the same
tour and the same information -- no more, no less.

[[[ Security measures at Purdue and every other campus have probably been COMPLETELY REVAMPED since ABC's report came out. -- rdh ]]]

By the time they had been to two universities, the interns'
behavior had given them away, and all the subsequent sites they
visited knew who they were and their purpose. They still were
given escorted tours. Yet ABC's report maintained the fiction
that the interns had duped those responsible for security at
each of the reactors. It also accepted at face value the
interns' evaluations of security measures -- evaluations they
were not qualified to make.

[[[ By your definition of "qualified," we don't need to worry about terrorists because they are not qualified!  And if the sites all knew exactly what was up, why did they let it continue?   Something sure smells fishy! -- rdh ]]]

The network's premise was that the American public is threatened
by the ease with which research reactors can be accessed. This
is patently false.

[[[ No, it's patently true.  --  rdh ]]]

In Purdue's case, the reactor utilizes a tiny amount of fuel. At
full power, it can produce roughly the energy needed to
illuminate 10 100-watt light bulbs. While there is no such thing
as complete safety in any endeavor, Purdue's reactor is as safe
and secure as any laboratory can be. Located three stories
underground, it is entered through an academic building, which
is easily accessible to the public. However, the reactor itself
is behind two locked doors and can be accessed only in the
company of authorized staff fully trained in NRC security

[[[ Wow!  Two locked doors!  Nobody's every gotten past anything like THAT before!   How often are the locks changed?  How many people have keys?  And please define "tiny" in terms of Curie quantity. -- rdh ]]]

While nuclear fuels are by nature hazardous, the possibility of
an accidental or deliberate threat to public safety from this
facility is close to zero. In fact, a corner gas station or the
fuel tank for a backyard barbecue grill presents a greater
danger than this reactor.

[[ The above statement ignores the long term hazards of potent radioactive carcinogens in the environment, as well as the fact that nuclear installations are KNOWN targets of terrorists while America's barbecue grills and even our corner gas stations usually are not. -- rdh ]]]

When research reactors operate, they do so well below boiling
conditions, instead of the very high pressures and temperatures
found at nuclear power plants. Research reactors operate safely
with simple, easily supplemented cooling systems. Possible
incidents involving research reactors have been analyzed many
times, and the consequences would be confined to very small
areas, usually within the research reactor facility itself. If a
terrorist set off an explosion in the reactor, it would be
unlikely to endanger anyone who was not inside the facility. An
Oklahoma City-style truck bombing -- graphically suggested by
ABC as a threat -- would cause a great deal of damage and human
suffering, but would release no radiation from the underground

[[[ Research reactors often have no containment dome, and certainly not a very substantial one.  "Possible incidents" involving commercial reactors have ALSO supposedly been carefully analyzed, and yet Palo Verde surprised everyone with a 19-year old "design flaw" earlier this month, and of course, Davis Besse nearly blew a hole in its head in 2002.  An "Oklahoma City-style truck bomb" that is set off in a particular way might or might not cause the fuel at Purdue's reactor to be released into the environment.  However, and one MUST ASSUME the terrorists will tailor their attack to the particulars of the location they decide to strike at, in order to ensure that maximum possible damages will occur, including a radioactive fuel fire. -- rdh ]]]

Theft of the nuclear material from a research reactor would be
virtually impossible. The extremely heavy construction of the
facility and nature of the installation make removing the fuel a
major construction project requiring heavy equipment and the
supervision of engineers. It could not be done covertly. There
are much easier ways to get nuclear materials, including from
medical facilities, delivery trucks and the smoke detectors sold
at any discount store.

[[[ Why would the terrorists bother to steal it and THEN release it somewhere else, later?  Immediately contaminating Purdue would seem to be a much simpler goal.  Dr. Tsoukalas ought to mention the total Curie quantity in his "research" reactor versus the amount in a store full of smoke detectors or in a smoke detector factory.  He also ought to mention that better smoke detectors do not use ANY radioactive materials AT ALL! -- rdh ]]]

ABC -- a network with enormous power and responsibility -- chose
to ignore an enormous amount of factual information in the
interest of sensationalism. In the process, they have misled the
American people and many public officials. Only time will tell
whether this irresponsible report has done permanent damage to
an academic discipline that America needs to nurture and further

[[[ Only time will tell whether terrorists will decide to destroy a research reactor, but if that is what they want to do, a reasonably competent group of terrorists most certainly would be able to do the preparation necessary to carry out whatever type of attack will be successful.  One should not forget that on 9-11, the terrorists could easily have aimed all four planes at ONE of our reactor sites, including a research reactor.  There is little chance any nuclear site -- Indian Point (one jet flew nearly right over Indian Point), Three Mile Island (another was aimed towards TMI when it went down), or any other -- could survive an airplane strike, let alone four.  Nuclear sites typically have many extremely vulnerable structures such as spent fuel pools, control rooms, backup generators, and dry storage casks, and there is no evidence that even a commercial reactor is properly protected by its containment dome.  As has been said before: "Any terrorist with a wad of cash and a credit card can rent a commercial jet, fill it with explosives, and crash it into a nuclear site."  It was true before 9-11 and it's true today.  Pretending these sites are safe is foolhardy, negligent, and unrealistic. -- rdh ]]]

I have the benefit of the knowledge gained from a lifetime of
study, so ABC has not shaken my faith in the value of continued
study of nuclear energy. My confidence in ABC's national news is
another matter.

[[[ I too have studied nuclear power for many decades -- enough to know we can produce electricity many other, better, safer ways.  I am sadly confident that the terrorists, or perhaps Mother Nature (I'm sure the Purdue reactor is NOT properly protected from earthquakes, tornados, asteroid impacts, or other rare but not impossible natural disasters) will some day lay waste to an American reactor -- whether a research or a commercial or even a military reactor, unless we finally and wisely reject this technological mistake for the many sound scientific, cultural, statistical, and medical reasons which indicate it has been and always will be a failure.  Even Nils Diaz, Commissioner of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, has admitted that the whole steam turbine method of electricity production from nuclear materials is dreadfully inefficient.  What a dreamer, eh?  Please read my analysis of his comments (link given below). -- rdh ]]]

Tsoukalas is head of Purdue's School of Nuclear Engineering.

[[[ Russell D. Hoffman has had commentaries about nuclear power published in dozens of magazines and newspapers, and online.  He is a professional computer programmer. -- rdh ]]]

Copyright © 2005, Federated Publications, Inc. A Gannett Site.

[[[ May be freely copied. -- rdh (a private citizen) ]]]



Note: Here is a link to my comments after attending NRC Commissioner Nils Diaz's space nuclear presentation in San Diego, CA, June, 2005:

(4) The Hazards of Radioactive Smoke Detectors (correspondence + article by Rosalie Bertell):

Subject: Re: Get a safe smoke detector! Ionizing Radiation in Smoke Detectors

Hi BG,

Yeah, this is one of the best examples of the complete and utter stupidity of the American version of capitalism, that it could let an obvious mistake like this keep happening, when a few simple federal laws could change things in an instant.  Dr. Bertell always does her research and is one of my favorite scientists to read.  She is so understandable!

A pro-nuker who runs a university reactor (and sent me an email late last year) claims that smoke detectors are more dangerous to humanity than his "tiny" reactor (now that ABC is questioning the safety of so-called "research" reactors).  Having decried the Americium and/or Radium (I believe Plutonium has also been used, although Dr. Bertell doesn't mention it specifically) in smoke detectors, he seems to understand the danger from picoCurie - sized quantities of loose radioactive materials in our environment.  So, I will show him Bertell's article and ask him why he so violently disagrees with her conclusions in the last paragraph.

Thanks for sending me this.

Russell Hoffman
Concerned Citizen
Carlsbad, CA

At 11:21 AM 10/20/2005 -0400, wrote:
BG:  Ralph Nader has been one of the few speaking out on this.  "Debate" has been silenced.  I was glad to find the article below by Dr. Bertell.

It sounds to me as though ionising smoke detectors contain the stuff of "dirty bombs", which "terrorists" are supposedly trying hard to get their hands on.   ????

As Pogo says, "the enemy is us".  (Meanwhile, we "race for cures"....)

It is now difficult to find the non-radioactive smoke detectors!  First Alert and other manufacturers should be told there is a demand.

At LEAST the radioactive detectors should be clearly labeled.  (The print is pretty small on the boxes, and store personnel generally -per my queries- have no idea they are selling something radioactive.) The NRC has exempted the detectors from regulation.  (Thanks, NRC, for your conscientious protection of the public!)

Why make an issue of this?   This is a way to tell the public one more time, on an issue very close to home, that
       a.  what we buy determines our environment to a large extent
       b.  relying on the NRC and the DOE for protection/regulation, even in your home,  is a joke UNLESS THE PUBLIC IS INFORMED AND SPEAKING UP

Tulsa Toxics/Pollutants Collection will accept used smoke detectors but so far refuses to tell the public WHY the detectors are "toxic" or a "pollutant".  MANY  people don't know.  I would suggest a call or an email to the MET to demand that AT LEAST the nature of the hazard in smoke detectors be made known.
       Michael Patton, with whom I have corresponded, can be reached at

Then we ought to contact the fire dept and let them know that when they give and install radioactive smoke detectors they are distributing dangerous products . 
The Potential Hazard of Ionizing Radiation in Smoke Detectors
by Rosalie Bertell, Ph.D., GNSH

There are two types of smoke detectors currently in use: the photoelectric detector and the ionization detector. The photoelectric detector responds to smoke, which deflects a small light beam inside of the detector and activates the photoelectric cell, setting up an alarm. This type is connected to an electrical outlet, and is subject to power failure if it does not have a battery backup.

The second type is called an ionizing detector, and it usually contains radioactive Americium 241 or Radium 226. These radionuclides continuously ionize the surrounding air within the detector, sending a small current of electricity through it. When a smoke particle impedes that current, the electric circuitry monitor sets off an alarm. This type of detector, which works best in a flaming fire, works on a battery and is subject to battery failure. A yearly vacuuming is often recommended for keeping them in good working condition. Some models require occasional cleaning with alcohol.

Photo-electric detectors are more sensitive to smoke than are the ionizing type detectors, and although they were originally slower to detect a flaming fire then were the ionizing type, they are now considered to be superior in both types of situation. According to tests performed by the US National Bureau of Standards, the improved photo-electric detectors provide 2 to 3 times more chance of escape than the ionizing type of detector containing Americium. According to an article by G. Blair, in the Journal: Politics and Other Human Interests, 31 January 1978, smouldering fires account for about 75% of all home fires. The photoelectric type detector is currently more expensive than the ionizing type, but affords broader and more realistic protection for common types of fires.

The main hazard of the ionizing type detector is the radioactive component, usually Americium 241, which has a half-life of 458 years. Radium 226 has a half-life of 1600 years. Americium is a waste product from nuclear reactors; it is encapsulated inside of the detector, but may become available for ingestion or inhalation through the gradual deterioration of its packaging when discarded in a landfill or after its release during an actual fire. It is easily absorbed into the body from the lungs or intestines, and can cause cancer and genetic injury or can have general negative effects on health. This will inevitably be a greater hazard to future generations rather than our own, since it is encapsulated on a ceiling fixture for our short period of use.

A typical Americium source contained in one ionizing detector intended for home use, would consist of 0.8 to 5.0 micro curies of Americium on a silver disc, coated with a very thin layer of gold. An industrial model may contain up to 15 micro curies. We usually speak of picoCuries of radiation, which are one millionth of a microCurie, as having biological significance for humans. According to Dr. Edward Martel, an expert on alpha particle emitters like Americium and Radium, one microCurie of Americium contains thousands of lethal doses if spread in a human population. Dr. Martel was a senior scientist at the US National Center for Atmospheric Research in Bolder, Colorado. Dr. Karl Morgan, Father of Health Physics and Emeritus Member of the International Commission on Radiological Protection, has stated that the risks are identical for Plutonium 239 and Americium 241. He adds that once in the environment, (after a fire or after having been discarded in a landfill), Americium is more of a risk than Plutonium because it is readily taken up by animals (including humans) and plants. (From the US Congressional Record House, page H521-H523, 1 February 1978 Legislation to Prohibit Sale of Smoke Detectors Containing Radioactive Isotopes)

Because Americium is soluble, it can accumulate in soil and water, and enter into drinking water, plants, fish and animals. In the human body, it moves into the blood stream and is stored in bone and liver. Friction, scratches, heat or other stress can easily damage the disc inside the smoke detector, which contains Americium or Radium. The alpha particles could escape from the metal foil while the detector is intact, if there is a leak of any kind or if the covering has been damaged. In a fire, incinerator, sanitary landfill (which is usually an aquifer recharging area), the radioactivity can be released. The gold foil covering the radioactive particle will melt at 1063 degrees Centigrade. In a one-hour fire test conducted by the US Atomic Energy Commission in 1969, a smoke detector reached 925 degrees Centigrade, almost the temperature of complete melt down. The foil, which contained 2.5 microCuries of Americium, lost 0.31% or 0.0074 micro Curies or, equivalently 7,400 picoCuries. Prior to 1990, the maximum permissible body burden of Americium for members of the public was 1,670 picoCuries. This limit has been proportionally lowered to 334 picoCuries, soon to be law in Canada. Many would argue that this is still 100 times too high a dose meaning that one domestic ionization fire detector contains between 2,400 - 15,000 times the maximum permissible body burden of Americium.

The British National Radiological Protection Board has also reported the release of an excessive amount of radioactive material when ionizing detectors were fire tested. (P. Burry, Detection Section, Fire Research Station, Borehamwood, England) There is really no way to test for a product defect or leakage in a home setting, since alpha particles cannot be detected even by an ordinary Geiger counter. There have been product recalls. For example, in the US, 110,000 were recalled because of an incorrectly rated resistor, which could cause the detector to self-ignite. Only 40,000 of these defective devices were retrieved.

It is my opinion that the ionizing type radiation detector should be eliminated from home use as soon as possible. Until then, these devices should be clearly labelled, tracked and returned to the manufacturer for the proper handling of radioactive waste. I believe that this type of detector was originally marketed in order to use some of the waste from nuclear reprocessing. I also heard ionizing detectors being used in a Nuclear Reactor Licensing Hearing as a defense against the deaths which would be caused by the radioactive waste and effluence of the nuclear reactor - in the hopes that saving lives would balance out lives lost. This debate could be best won by eliminating both nuclear power and ionizing fire detectors. We have ample benign technology to fulfill the functions of both technologies.

>From the IICPH Resource Centre

(5) Dr. Tsoukalas' & Russell Hoffman's prior correspondence:

March 8th, 2005

Dear Dr. Tsoukalas,

I apologize for the delay in responding to your letter of December 31st, 2004, and thank you for writing.

I recently (since receiving your letter earlier this year) created a series of four animations, each based on nuclear industry drawings such as company brochures or illustrations in reactor engineering textbooks (I've got Glasstone, Lamarsh, Ma, Todreas/Kazimi and quite a few others at hand).  I thought you might find these new animations useful for your beginning students, and towards that end, I've tried to make these animations particularly useful in a classroom setting.  For example, you don't need to actually "click" on anything.  All the options are available through "mouse-overs" (except the "email" link which requires a click to send me an email from within the program).

I've spent the past 20 years drawing educational animations for adult audiences, which are currently used in hundreds of universities and by industry (esp. the pump industry), and by the military and medical professions.  I've tried very hard to make these particular animations extremely accurate and explanatory (I will, of course, be grateful if you alert me to any errors you find, or if you have any suggestions for how to improve these animations).

Here are some URLs where you can examine these new animations:
or, depending on your browser/email settings, you might need to try:
or, alternatively:

Additional animations in your field are also planned, so I'd be delighted to hear about any other illustrations you feel might be helpful to your students.  Missing/Extra/Misplaced atoms in lattices, leading to metal fatigue 20 or 30 years later?  Decay chains?  Inverse square law?  Accident rates caused by human error?  Fission-product buildup in reactor components?  Over the next year or two I'll try to do animations for all these things.

Regarding your comment in your email to me: "absolutely no adverse environmental impact,"  I have just recently looked at the tritium issue (for example), and found significant reason for concern:

The above was a response to a local Health Physicist telling the public that tritium is a "low energy" radiation.  Tritium is only "low-energy" when compared to most other ionizing radiation, but not when compared to the chemical bonds from which life is made.  It's like calling a .22 caliber bullet a "low energy" bullet, just because grenades and cannon (and nuclear weapons) exist.  My detailed response to the HP, linked to above, was written with the aid and insight of a nuclear physicist and former Manhattan Project scientist, now in his 80s (who is mentioned in the article).  Tritium releases are just one of the issues with nuclear power, of course.

The nuclear industry does not measure its radioactive releases very carefully, and does not report them properly.  It covers up its accidents as long and as much as possible.  Maybe if the truth were known people would reject nuclear power, and maybe they would not.  In either case, they have a right to know the truth.

I wish the dream of nuclear power worked in real life -- it would solve a lot of problems.  But I don't believe it does work.

However, if nuclear power didn't exist on earth, the answer to our electrical energy needs would still not be coal, oil, or even natural gas.  Renewable energy can provide all the electrical energy society can use without significant pollution or depletion of natural resources.  It can do this globally, not just in rich countries or countries with stable governments.  Coal and oil make nice plastics and if that's all we did with these petroleum products, they would probably last 10s of thousands of years (with recycling efforts).  Natural gas will eventually be used up but should be exploited carefully while it's still possible to do so.  Nuclear power is perfect when kept a safe 93 million miles away, as originally planned.

Thank you again for writing and I look forward to your comments about these four new animations and what other animations you might like to see.


Russell Hoffman
Concerned Citizen
Carlsbad, CA

P.S.  I looked at the URL you sent me to but it was an overview which would not begin to answer the level of questions I actually would like to pose for someone.

At 09:33 PM 12/31/2004 -0500, "Lefteri H. Tsoukalas" <> wrote:
Dear Mr. Hoffman,

I found your article "Tsunamis and Nuclear Power Plants" interesting. I disagree, however, with your conclusions.

As a nuclear engineer with over 25 years of experience in power plant engineering I found nuclear to be a very clean way of producing industrial grade electricity. Nuclear power plants have no emissions and the spent fuel is extremely small (22 tons per year per 1000 MW plant as compared with over 3,000,000 tons waste from fossil plants). Lots of work has been done on the wast (sic) problem, it is practically solved. Please take a look at

I do not know why you think that radioactive effluents are released from a nuclear plant. There is none to be released. The byproducts of the fission process all stay in place (unlike fossil fuels).  This is what we call spent fuel. Minor quantities of noble gases may be vented from time to time with absolutely no adverse environmental impact.

Nuclear electricity, however, may soon be a thing of the past. The US has no longer the skills and industrial capacity to build new plants. The myth of a nuclear industry is just that.  The industry in the US is in fact dead. Three cheers for oil, gas and coal.

I am biased due to my experience and position of course.  But it is my sincere belief that the end of nuclear option is a very bad development for the global environmental movement.


L.H. Tsoukalas
Lefteri H. Tsoukalas, PhD
Professor and Head
Purdue University
School of Nuclear Engineering
400 Central Drive
West Lafayette, IN 47907-2017
Tel: (765) 494-5742,  Fax: (765) 494-9570


Note: The article Dr. Tsoukalas was responding to appeared online at several locations, for example:



(6) Contact information for Russell Hoffman: