NASA was saying that if there was an “inadvertent reentry” on the slingshot pass by the Earth, each person would receive only a 1 millirem dose, the equivalent of 1 dental x-ray. Panelist Dr. Janice Kirsch said, “One encounter with plutonium is not one exposure; it stays there bombarding that sensitive tissue with those particles…year after year…It’s not a millirem when the exposure is continuous…To paraphrase Shakespeare, plutonium is the stuff that nightmares are made of.”
Panelist and former NASA official Allan Kohn detailed many of the lies from NASA about the mission, and concluded, “In other words, I am saying that the government is deliberately putting out a disinformation campaign.”
The death toll from a Cassini accident was put by Dr. Ernest Sternglass, professor emeritus of radiological physics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, at 20 million to 40 million.
And this is not a sky-is-falling story. Of 28 U.S. space missions using plutonium, there have been three accidents, the worst in 1964 in which a plutonium-powered satellite fell back to Earth, breaking up and spreading the toxic radioactive substance widely. 
Looking at the reporters in the room, panelist Karl Grossman called Cassini the most censored story of the year in 1997
Lawsuits were filed against prior NASA plutonium missions in 1989 and 1990 under NEPA — the U.S. National Environmental Protection Act. But that law was changed, “denuded”, afterward . Standing was narrowed, the ability to examine agency documents (discovery) was dramatically reduced, and it became no longer possible to argue that the agency is wrong in its analysis. As a result, filing a lawsuit under NEPA against Cassini was no longer possible.
It’s called rigging the system.
Massive worldwide opposition couldn’t stop Cassini. Massive worldwide opposition couldn’t stop the “they’ve got WMDs” Gulf War a few years later. On how many issues does significant opposition fail to stop the harmful action?
And what avenues are left to us when all of our informed, creative, well-spoken, and expert voices fail to move our leaders to stop their harmful or deadly actions?
April 27, 2017
This video covers a news conference held in 1997 at the National Press Club in Washington opposing the launch of the Cassini space probe and was covered by CSPAN on cable TV. The news conference was organized by the Florida Coalition for Peace & Justice where I worked for 15 years. The Florida Coalition was one of the founding members of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space.
NASA has just crashed Cassini with 72.3 pounds of plutonium-238 onto the surface of Saturn.
Journalist Karl Grossman has written a story about this latest incident. You can find it here
The Cassini campaign lasted for three years and it became a rousing international effort. Alan Kohn (one of the speakers in the news conference and former head of NASA’s emergency preparedness operation) told us after the successful launch of Cassini that a friend of his working in the White House informed him that they received more communications opposing the Cassini launch than any other issue in the history of the White House.
Groups in England, Germany, Australia and from throughout the US sent cards, letters, emails and faxes to then President Clinton calling for the halt of plans to launch the deadly mission. One of my favorite stories at the time was about citizens from Tasmania, Australia who set up a fax machine one Saturday in front of their capital building and sent 1,000 faxes to the White House opposing the launch.
Also speaking in the news conference is world renowned physicist Dr. Michio Kaku and Karl Grossman, one of the founding members of the Global Network.