Comments by Dr. Michael C. Baker

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I recently read Helen Caldicott's response to the letters to the LA Times on your web site and thought I would make a couple of comments. First, I am the individual from Los Alamos "where new and better nuclear bombs are currently being designed for use in third world countries". This is an interesting and totally unsupportable statement that she has made. I am unaware of any such work and would question why on earth she believes that the US would want to use nuclear weapons in a third world country?

Let me add that I do not currently and never have worked on nuclear weapons. Although weapons work certainly is carried out at Los Alamos, the laboratory employs around 10,000 people doing work as diverse as Native American anthropology to the Human Genome Project. I personally work in nuclear safeguards which is a field dedicated to the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction not building better and new ones.

In her letter she states:

"Should I defend myself when it is obvious that radio- iodine was only one of the fallout isotopes, yet none of you have had the integrity to examine the medical implications of others, including strontium 90, cesium 137, plutonium and other transuranics?"

Funny that there are dozens if not hundreds of scientific studies on the health effects of these isotopes, many of them carried out here at Los Alamos. It seems this is another unsupported lie on her part. Perhaps in the many hours she spends campaigning against all things nuclear, she could spare a few to review the scientific literature.

I would also like to comment on her use of 20 year old information on uranium enrichment, a very small part of the nuclear fuel cycle, to make the assertion that nuclear power is contributing to global warming. In 1996 alone, U.S. nuclear power plants prevented the discharge of 147 million tons of carbon, 2.5 millions tons of nitrogen oxide and 5.3 million tons of sulfur dioxide. Since 1973, nuclear power plants have accounted for 90% of all carbon emission reductions achieved by the electric utility industry. By picking one small part of the nuclear fuel cycle Ms. Caldicott has ignored these numbers and a real benefit of nuclear energy

Finally I would like to comment on what she calls an "important" book for the public. Her book, Nuclear Madness, is so full of half truths and blatant lies that it is hard for a scientist to read. You will note that her references include very few peer reviewed scientific papers and when they do they frequently do not support her conclusions. I believe that she hopes the reader will not take the time or have the resources to look up the scientific papers. I would conclude by encouraging the people that read her book and papers to do just that.

Sincerely,

Michael Baker

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Michael C. Baker, Ph.D.

Safeguards Science and Technology
Nonproliferation and International
Security Division
Los Alamos National Laboratory
email: mcbaker@lanl.gov

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Phone: (505) 667-7334 Fax: (505) 665-4433 Los Alamos National Laboratory P.O. Box 1663, Mail Stop E540 Los Alamos, NM 87545 (USA)


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