Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Pick a whole number between five and six...

September 5th, 2007

Dear Readers,

Well, well, well. Bombs over America. Bombs in our backyard. Bombs
away! While MS-NBC was reporting five nuclear warheads were
accidentally flown across the country last week, CNN was reporting it
was six. Nobody seems to know for sure.

We're being told these weapons cannot detonate due to "safeguards."

Are those the same safeguards that lost them in the first place?

We're being told that even if there was an accident, the plutonium in
the bombs wouldn't go far.


The HE (high explosives) could scatter the plutonium far and
wide. How far? How wide?

One bomb that fell off a jet years ago over Mars Bluff, South
Carolina created a hole 50 feet across and 35 feet deep when the
conventional explosives detonated. Obviously, there was no nuclear
explosion, but there was significant contamination.

Each nuclear bomb in last week's incident -- W-80 model cruise
missiles of up to 150 kilotons each -- contains about 10 pounds of
highly radioactive material (Plutonium-239, possibly "supergrade"
(very low in Plutonium-240)). Additionally, there is highly
poisonous Hydrogen-3 ("tritium") which is injected into the center of
the bomb moments before the explosion, and beryllium is used both to
initiate the explosion (as a "neutron generator") and to reflect the
neutrons released in the initial nanoseconds of the explosion back
into the "pit." There is also Lithium-6, and Depleted Uranium
(Uranium-238) encases the "pit." The Uranium-238 acts as a shield to
protect the military personnel who handle the bomb. Then, at the
moment of explosion, it too will fission.

So even without a nuclear explosion, there could be an enormous
environmental problem.

And it's not like this has never happened before. Below is only a
PARTIAL LIST of "Broken Arrows," "Bent Spears," "Dull Swords," and
"Faded Giants" (endearing military terms for various levels of
nuclear weapons accidents, all short of a "Nucflash." You can guess
what that is -- it's the one they say can't happen (but then, why do
they have a name for it?).

March 10, 1956: A B-47 bomber with two nuclear weapons was lost over
the Mediterranean Sea. Despite an extensive search, nothing was ever

July 28th, 1957: Off Cape May, New Jersey: Three nuclear weapons
without their fissile cores, and a "nuclear capsule" (the part that
detonates) were lost at sea and never recovered. Other reports say
only two of the nuclear weapons were jettisoned, and the other was
brought back, along with the nuclear capsule. The damaged C-124
landed at an air base near Atlantic City.

February 5th, 1958, off Tybee Island, Georgia, a 7,000 pound,
4-megaton hydrogen bomb was jettisoned after a mid-air collision
between a B-47 bomber and an F-86 fighter jet, and never
recovered. It's still lost in the mud amongst old civil war
ordinance. The Air Force insisted the bomb was not "nuclear-capable"
(was missing the nuclear capsule) but this is probably untrue. At
least two former Air Force personnel involved in the incident
testified otherwise under oath.

November 4th, 1958, a B-47 crashed carrying a nuclear weapon.

In 1959 a B-52 crashed in Kentucky with two nuclear weapons on
board. There were no explosions.

January 24th, 1961: Near Goldsboro, North Carolina a B-52 broke
apart in mid-air. This incident was probably closest to being a
"Nucflash" because apparently FIVE OF SIX SAFETY SYSTEMS FAILED!

On December 8th, 1964, a B-58 bomber skidded off the runway, and
"portions" of five nuclear weapons burned.

In 1965 an aircraft rolled off an aircraft carrier with a "live
hydrogen bomb" and sank. Fortunately, it didn't go off. This was
near Okinawa. Years later it was still leaking radioactive material.

On January 17th, 1966 a B-52 collided with a KC-135 refueling tanker
and crashed in Spain. Seven crew members of the KC-135 were burned
to death. The clean-up cost millions of dollars. More than a
thousand tons of dirt were brought back to America and dumped at the
Savannah River Site, but nevertheless, the cleanup was only partially
successful and people in Spain are still being sickened by the
radioactive materials that remain.

January 22nd, 1968: Near Thule, Greenland, four hydrogen bombs were
"scattered" over the ice (supposedly the contaminated ice was later
shipped to America). This incident sparked massive protests since
Greenland had banned such flights over their soil.

These accidents -- and many more -- and this latest incident prove
that there is no safe place for nuclear weapons. No country, no
ocean, no lake can withstand the devastation.

The last B-52 was manufactured in 1962, so the youngest the plane
that was used in this latest incident could possibly be is 45 years
old -- quite possibly older than the pilot and co-pilot together. Is
this safe?

It's time to stop this foolishness before something really terrible
happens! We're not getting ANY BETTER at handling nukes, and firing
or demoting those involved, while proper, WON'T address the root
cause one little bit, because the root cause is that humans make
mistakes. ALL humans make mistakes, and they will continue to do so.

"Nuclear weapons are designed with great care to explode only when
deliberately armed and fired. Nevertheless, there is always a
possibility that, as a result of accidental circumstances, an
explosion will take place inadvertently. Although all conceivable
precautions are taken to prevent them, such accidents might occur in
areas where weapons are assembled and stored, during the course of
loading and transportation on the ground, or when actually in the
delivery vehicle, e.g., an airplane or a missile."

-Atomic Energy Commission/Department of Defense, The Effects of
Nuclear Weapons, 1962. (quote presented by Jaya Tiwari and Cleve J. Gray).

Had these bombs exploded, who do you think would have been
blamed? Al Qaeda? Iran? North Korea? China?


Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

Thanks to Pamela Blockey-O'Brien for her assistance in preparing this
report. Numerous web sites and books were also reviewed, incuding:

U.S. Nuclear Weapons: The Secret History (ISBN 0-517-56740-7) by
Chuck Hansen, Orion Books, New York)