Nuclear Reactors in Space and the California Nuclear Disaster of 1959

Santa Susana Nuclear Disaster America’s China Syndrome, nuclear cloud spread over Simi and San Fernando Valleys

With the recent press about placing a nuclear reactor on the moon, the environmentalists are reacting to this as if it was a new thing. Neil Armstrong armed a nuclear reactor on the Moon during the Apollo 11 landing which is still in operation on the moon. It is used as a measuring device to measure the distance from the earth to the moon and thus help in navigating in space.

Boeing and Atomics International developed the SNAP reactors at Santa Susana which is in the hills just south of Simi Valley. One of the reactors melted down in 1959 causing the largest and most deadly nuclear accident in US history if you don’t count the nuclear tests. Here is a documentary explaining what happened when the nuclear reactor, the salt cooled reactor melted down and exploded causing a radioactive cloud to encompass Simi Valley and across San Fernando Valley. There was no containment, no shielding.

Also they burned radioactive waste so that it would be dispersed on the wind because the red tape made it “impractical” to bury it properly in disposal sites. Note that again this smoke was deposited over Simi and San Fernando Valleys.

4 reactors blew up over the course of many years of the SNAP reactor project. The reactors were being developed for spacecraft and airplanes. The airplane engine program was halted when the military decided it was a bad idea because if a plane crashes, we would have just given the enemy a working nuclear reactor.

Reactors for Space

“NUCLEAR SPACE POWER SYSTEMS,” H. M. DIECKAMP Vice President, Engineering; ATOMICS INTERNATIONAL A Division of North American Aviation, Inc. P. 0. Box 309 Conoga Park, California ISSUED: SEPTEMBER 1967 p 223

Film: First Nuclear Reactor In Space 71502
From Internet Archive:
“Made in 1965 by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, this rare film discusses the design of SNAP-10A, an experimental nuclear reactor launched into space in 1965. The Systems Nuclear Auxiliary Power Program (SNAP) reactor was developed under the SNAPSHOT program overseen by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission.

SNAP-10A was launched from Vandenberg AFB by an ATLAS Agena D rocket on April 3, 1965 into a polar low Earth orbit altitude of approx. 1,300 km. Its nuclear electrical source, made up of thermoelectric elements, was intended to produce over 500 watts of electrical power for one year. After 43 days, an onboard voltage regulator within the spacecraft — unrelated to the SNAP reactor — failed, causing the reactor core to be shut down, after reaching a maximum output of 590 watts. The reactor was left in a 700-nautical-mile (1,300 km) earth orbit for an expected duration of 4,000 years. In November 1979 the vehicle began shedding, eventually losing 50 pieces of traceable debris. The reasons were unknown, but the cause could have been a collision. Although the main body remains in place, radioactive material may have been released. ”

The following is from “NUCLEAR SPACE POWER SYSTEMS,” H. M. DIECKAMP Vice President, Engineering; ATOMICS INTERNATIONAL A Division of North American Aviation, Inc. P. 0. Box 309 Conoga Park, California ISSUED: SEPTEMBER 1967

“The first nuclear power system in space was SNAP 3B, a 2.7-watt radioisotope unit fueled by Pu [Plutonium], which was launched in June 1961. The first reactor power system in space was SNAP 10A, a 500-watt unit, which was launched m April 1965. To date, five radioisotope units with power levels up to 25 watts and one 500-watt reactor unit have been used in the U. S. Space Program.” page 19

Page 378 the SNAP 3B Generator

SNAP 10A Nuclear Reactor launched in 1965

SNAP 10A Nuclear reactor was launched into Space in 1965

SNAP 27 Nuclear Reactor for NASA’s Apollo Missions

Re-entry vehicle for nuclear fuels

NASA planned on regular missions to fuel a space station where they would send nuclear fuel up to orbit and back down again. This involved creating a device that could land and safely return the fuel elements of a reactor without breaking. This led to the creation of the Space Shuttle. The question is how much nuclear materials were on the Space Shuttles that crashed to the earth and should the local populations of the crash sites be concerned?

Concept drawing for a device to return nuclear fuel back to earth safely by gliding it in just like what would eventually be the Space Shuttle.

Diagram of a Plutonium powered heat source for a capsule that returns to earth.


EAST BAY Toxic Waste Sites

Composite image of GeoTracker map showing toxic waste sites. Geotracker uses Google images. Click on the image to go to Flickr

east bay with key

Toxic Waste sites in San Francisco

I posted this 5 hour ago and then I just noticed it was gone. What the hell WordPress? We are back again.

Composite image of GeoTracker map showing toxic waste sites. Geotracker uses Google images. Click on the image to go to Flickr

san francisco

Howard Center Oakland A’s stadium site was GE’s port of entry for Nuclear Reactor Fuel Rods

Nuclear Regulatory Commission has several surviving documents on General Electric moving Nuclear Reactor Fuel Rods to and from the Oakland Howard Terminal from its Vallecitos Nuclear Center near Pleasanton California where they were regularly shipping nuclear reactor fuel rods to Europe and back to be irradiated and tested. This is just one of the reports from May 18 1984:

Requests route approval per 10CFR73,for shipment of spent irradiated reactor fuel from Oakland to Pleasanton, CA.

Alameda County approves Howard Terminal as site for Oakland A’s new stadium November 7 2021
They are awaiting an Environmental Impact Statement, I wonder if they know the history of the Port of Oakland and nuclear waste?


Polaris Missiles launched at Hunters Point Shipyard into SF Bay tested by Westinghouse Sunnyvale CA 1959

Westinghouse Electric Corporation Annual Report 1959 ANNUAL REPORT
WESTINGHOUSE ELECTRIC CORPORATION-3 Gateway Center, Pittsburgh 22, Pennsylvania

Westinghouse Electric Corporation Annual Report 1959 ANNUAL REPORT
WESTINGHOUSE ELECTRIC CORPORATION-3 Gateway Center, Pittsburgh 22, Pennsylvania

“Dummy Polaris missile is blasted skyward, then quickly arrested by cables as part of “Operation Skycatch” at the San Francisco Naval Shipyard. In earlier tests, the dummy missiles were hurled into San Francisco Bay, then retrieved. Under the new method, a huge overhead assembly catches the multi-ton dummy in mid-air, simplifying the retrieving procedure and also permitting accurate study of the effects of launch stresses on dummy missiles which are structurally identical to an actual Polaris. The tests are being conducted by engineers from Westinghouse and the Lockheed Missiles and Space Division in conjunction with the U. S. Navy. Westinghouse is prime contractor for launching equipment, and Lockheed is Polaris missile system prime contractor and manager.”

Before all of the cleanups, and while the US Navy’s Radiological Defense Lab was conducting its radiation experiments all over Hunters Point Shipyard, the Navy was firing off Polaris Missiles spreading the radiation all over the Bay View Hunters Point neighborhood thus causing the highest levels of breast cancer in the world for child bearing age African American Women.

This is what happens when the Navy keeps things to themselves and refuses to acknowledge the truth, they did this to the people of San Francisco and they should be made to pay for what they have done to the unsuspecting victims of their polution.


Burbank CA Nuclear Accident January 18 1968 Placing a Demon Core on a Lathe

US. Nuclear Corporation in Burbank California had a problem, without any authorization they decided to try to remove the outer casing of a Plutonium Beryllium device that produced Neutrons, a DEMON CORE that was used for training in the US Navy for sailors to train to find atomic bombs and this training was on every ship and base including at Treasure Island.

They placed the core onto a Lathe which is used to spin wood or metal to make rounded cuts into objects, just as if you were to make a staircase knob, you cut into it as it spins to make rounded objects. So naturally they decided to do this with the most dangerous thing in the world a Demon Core of Plutonium and Beryllium.

When the Atomic Energy Commission was tipped off about this incident by an anonymous source they came into the facility where the US Nuclear Corporation employees had just bought an industrial vacuum cleaner to clean up the site. They also failed to mention the accident to the AEC as required by law (see below)

Yeah that would not cut it.

Range of possible Plutonium Contamination from the Burbank Nuclear Disaster January 18, 1968

The Demon Core was made popular in the movie “Fat Man and Little Boy” which combined two separate incidents where the scientists at Los Alamos were showing off and caused fission to take place killing in each case the show off scientist. It should be noted that spinning plutonium at high speed is not something that you want to do.

The Pu-Be core was made with pellets of Plutonium and the Berylium reflects the neutrons so you can create measured levels of neutron radiation, the radiation of fission found in nuclear reactors and atomic bombs. The US Navy Radiological Defense Lab had two of these devices as of 1960 which were about the size of a casing for a old movie projector and they used it to bombard ships with it to see how far into a ship the neutron radiation would penetrate, in order to make ships safer. When they turned it on they made sure everyone was in a separate building in shielding to protect themselves from the radiation. Not the public, just them. It is the same radiation found in a nuclear power plant or a nuclear detonation.

US Nuclear Corporation decided all on their own without any authorization to divide up the Plutonium into smaller amounts to make more devices.

Continue reading “Burbank CA Nuclear Accident January 18 1968 Placing a Demon Core on a Lathe”

Palo Alto Nuclear Reactor at Baylands Nature Preserve Trailhead and the Dover Nuclear Disaster

On the left is a nuclear reactor core, on the right is the Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve Trailhead

On the left is a nuclear reactor core, on the right is the Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve Trailhead. This company would have a nuclear disaster in a sister plant in New Jersey which resulted in the closure of all of their plants nationwide due to mismanagement.

Google Map

International Nutronics Inc ran the Palo Alto reactor also had a reactor in Dover New Jersey (below) that had a serious nuclear accident which the company did not report to the NRC and this resulted in the closure of this reactor in Palo Alto. The company started off at 200 Third St. Los Altos but they had three reactor sites, one in Irvine and this one and the Dover New Jersey plant and a sewage Treatment plant in Menlo Park where they irradiated sewage to kill bacteria.

The Palo Alto facility had 750,000 Curies of C0-60 source and was used to irradiate food to kill bacteria and for cleaning medical equipment. Basically they would place these things in containers over the reactor and open it up to be irradiated.

“The potential personnel radiation exposure hazard posed by the sources at large irradiators is substantial. For example, the unshielded dose from a 250,000 Ci Co-60 source is approximately 250,000 rem/hr (69 rem/sec) at 4 feet and approximately 25,000 rem/hr (6.9 rem/sec) at 13 feet. Therefore, a lethal dose could be received within minutes.” – Review of Events at Large Pool-Type Irradiators, E.A. Trager, Jr., Division of Safety Programs Office for Analysis and Evaluation of Operational Data U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Washington, DC 20555 March 1989

Continue reading “Palo Alto Nuclear Reactor at Baylands Nature Preserve Trailhead and the Dover Nuclear Disaster”

Apple’s Stewart 1 Building is TRW Nuclear Site, Nuclear Worker Site

TRW Microwave was registered with the State of California’s Department of Health with a Radiological Materials License and here is a list of their isotopes they received :

PM-147 Promethium 147 (half life 2.6234 y) which goes through Beta Decay to become Samarium 147 (half life of 1.062278031456×1011 y) which emits an alpha particle to become stable Neodymium 143

TL-204 Thallium 204, yes the deadly poison, (half life) decay7s in two ways, one is a beta particle to Lead 204 which is a long term alpha particle emitter and the other is by electron capture to Mercury 204 which then emits 2 beta particles to become radioactive Lead 204 which although is considered stable it emits an alpha particle to become Mercury 200.

CD-109 Cadmium has a half life of 462 days so the use of this isotope has to be very specific to be ordered for TRW. All of these isotopes are By Product meaning they were made in a nuclear reactor.

SR-90 Strontium 90 half life of 28.9 years is one of the isotopes that are the result of nuclear explosions or nuclear reactors. It goes through beta decay to become Yttrium 90 which has a half life of 2.662037037037 days to become Ziconium 90. Strontium 90 is one of the worst isotopes for contamination as it has a long half life and it along with Cesium 137 and Cobalt 60 are what people fear in fallout from a nuclear explosion.

IsotopeNameRadiationHalf life
PM- 147Promethium 147Beta2.6234 y
TL- 204Thallium 204Beta, e and then 2 beta3.773465246068 y
CD 109Cadmium 109e462 days
Sr-90Strontium 90beta28.9 y

The report below does not give amounts but a quick search reports many companies including Teledyne in Palo Alto receiving another list of isotopes and unfortunately the State of California is terrible at keeping records of radio-isotopes and their transfers. There is a whole list of sites and I will be posting those under separate articles.

Silicon Valley was Nuclear Valley before it was Silicon Valley, it was the nuclear industry with its need for precision equipment that fueled the creation of these companies.

From Nuclear Regulator Commission
From Nuclear Regulator Commission

This is TRW’s heath and Safety Manual. Note on page 16 the list of isotopes used

From NRC
Continue reading “Apple’s Stewart 1 Building is TRW Nuclear Site, Nuclear Worker Site”

Apple is located on GE Intersil Superfund site that received radiological isotope Kr 85 from the DOE

“List of DOE Radioisotope Customers w/Summary of Radioisotope Shipments,FY85.”
D. A. Baker
Prepared for the U. S. Department of Energy under Contract DE-AC06-76RLO 1830

Page 2.4 Item number 53.
G. E. Intersil Inc.
10710 North Tantau Avenue
Cupertino, CA 95014

Given that the Superfund site is the G. E. Intersil site, this associates it with the San Jose G. E. nuclear reactor assembly plant where they were assembling portable nuclear reactors for the US Army, a project started in the mid 1950s when radiological contamination levels were very relaxed and when they were strengthened in 1959 to 1/3 of what they were before, so all of these reactors were too hot for safe use. The entire program was scrapped by 1965. But this program required a large amount of new electronics and this brought about the beginnings of Silicon Valley.

Unfortunately for the people of San Jose they were dumping waste directly into the sewer system using 1955 standards which are nuclear accidents today. That is the problem with nuclear radiation, the clean up standards of the past, including the most recent past have been less and less radiation so that a site cleaned up 25 years ago is an accident today!

These were portable nuclear reactors that you could put on a truck, a transport plane, a ship or a train and bring it to a military site that had a deep pool with all of the necessary hook ups to set up a nuclear reactor to power the base or for colleges and universities. These reactors had no meaningful shields and were a serious radiological hazard to modern specifications.

San Jose CA – GE Nuclear Fuel Processing Facility at The Plant Shopping Center

There were several other portable nuclear reactor plants in the Bay Area, two I featured in this article Two nuclear reactors sites, 369 Whisman Road Mountainview (now Google) and San Ramon CA where the EPA should also look into assessing the damage to the environment and the people who now live within range of those reactor sites. The 369 Whisman Road reactor site had a high curb surrounding the building to contain the radioactive waste!

The EPA has regulations on conducting radiological surveys for sites and basically everything within 200 feet of a site is considered on the site, that goes for chemical contamination as well as radiological. DTSC has interpreted this to mean the property lines of toxic waste sites but the EPA has different rules. Then there is the distance from the contamination to a quarter of a mile is considered a near neighbor and the distance from a quarter of a mile to a mile is also a near neighbor but with a different set of calculations. The danger is evaluated based on the population near a site so in the case of Apple, this could be a big problem for them. How many people work in their Wheel?

The Federal Law, 40 CFR Appendix A to Part 300 – The Hazard Ranking System which is used to determine if a site is subject to Superfund status, the range of contamination goes out to various distances from the exact contamination site.

It depends on what happened to the Kr 85 which is a Byproduct Material, meaning it came out of a nuclear reactor and cannot be dumped in low level radiation facilities but would have to be disposed of most likely in the Nevada Test Site.

In order to use an isotope like this, the facility would require a hot cell which is a device or room to store radiological isotopes usually with mechanical hands to remove the isotope from the container and use it in whatever industrial process GE was using at the time and the necessary Geiger counter device to measure the Beta radiation from this isotope. It has a half life of 10 years so its still hot. Some hot cells are portable and look like aquariums or those isolated rooms with hands you see in movies or TV shows.

I outline the distances using San Francisco as an example showing the ranges of contamination that can result from Chemical, Biological and Radiological contamination in this article:
“Downtown San Francisco within Contamination Range of Treasure Island Atomic, Biological and Chemical Warfare training sites”

If the radiation was used on a device that has since decomposed in the soil, then you have the larger ranges of water and air contamination that can go out 4 miles from the site.

The Question is, does the EPA know that the isotope was used on the site. Given the other sites in the Bay Area I would give my opinion as to say no, but this will have to be looked into.

If the Nuclear Regulatory Commission had done its job, then there would be a set of inspections and a series of surveys to confirm the radiological isotopes were disposed of property and how they were used.

Two nuclear reactors sites, 369 Whisman Road Mountainview (now Google) and San Ramon CA

ATL Job 5164 ATL-D-619 7 June 1961
Page 46

ATL Job 5164
7 June 1961

Google currently occupies the location where American Standard built portable nuclear reactors that were sent overseas in trade shows for the Atomic Energy Commission and for colleges and universities. The AEC shut down the facility because it was located in a densely populated area and given the accidents from these reactors and that the location had no shielding or even containment for the radioactive gasses and radioactive water, it was decided to pull the plug on the reactors. They had two reactors on site and built these reactors for other entities:

Iowa State University
Virginia Polytechnic Institute / North Carolina State college
Australia (Atomic Energy Commission)
Japan (Kinki University) Osaka
Japan (Tokai University)

ATL Job 5164 ATL-D-619 7 June 1961
Page 27

From the report page 6:

“B. Reactor Building
The reactor will be housed in an existing 20′ x 32′ x 14′ eave height steel frame
reactor building. The building is supported on a reinforced concrete foundation and has corrugated steel walls and roof and a concrete floor sealed with Amercoat. A concrete curb around the base of the building will prevent run off of radioactive water. Gas-tight construction has not been provided. Entry to the building is provided by two sliding doors, which may be locked with a padlock. A stairway provides access to the top of the reactor. A one-ton electric hoist is available for removing the concrete closures from the reactor”

Note the curb around the building to prevent run off of radioactive water and the padlock on the door for security. Remember this is for two nuclear reactors.

These are the concentric circles that the Atomic Energy Commission requires for safety. If there was an accident everyone within range would have to be permanently evacuated. page 44

This reactor type was based on the Argonne reactor which had some serious defects causing a melt down.

Ruzich, K. C.., Sturm, W. J.. Hazard Summary Report for the Argonne AGN-201 Reactor. United States: Argonne National Laboratory, 1962.
Continue reading “Two nuclear reactors sites, 369 Whisman Road Mountainview (now Google) and San Ramon CA”