Wow, didn't know that such an accident had already happened (at least once). Which year was that?
That quote from Brian Gagnon I think came from the calculation of a single lethal dose multiplied by the total number of human population on earth, which results in less than a pound. I've read that info somewhere before. Of course when the accident happened over NZ, the Pu-238 was not disperse perfectly, or evenly delivered to everyone in NZ, let alone everyone on the planet. I agree his quote could have been better phrased to be more scientifically accurate.
On the other hand, the total "background" level of all kinds of radioisotopes involved in human activity such as nuclear bombs and nuclear power plant
accidents, have increased since WWII era. The NASA accident over NZ you mentioned must have elevated the Pu-238 level that much higher over your country.
Fw: Re: Tell NASA to stop plutonium enabled space mission
Maggie Zhou wrote:
NASA's next Mars rover, "Curiosity", will be fueled by 4.8 kilograms (10.56 pounds) of plutonium dioxide, and launched in Nov. See more info at bottom.
Just imagine an accident upon launch that releases those highly toxic Pu as dust!
At least one of these Pu-238 thermionic generators has burned up on re-entry into the atmosphere - over my country, as it happens. A diagram of the Pu-238 fallout 'footprint' has been pubd (I can't lay my hands on it just now). Would you believe no epidemiology was initiated to look for any harm? Could you also stretch your imagination to believe that the USA cronies in our Govt Health Dept then stated, deadpan, that no harm had resulted??
But as for the statement attributed (below) to one Brian Gagnon,
It would only take one pound of plutonium-238 released as dust in the atmosphere to give everyone on the Earth a lethal dose of the toxic fuel
the fact that not everyone on NZ, let alone the whole world, was killed by that burnup over NZ refutes his alarmist rave, and calls gravely in question Gagnon's credibility.
There would be slightly less injustice in such mishaps if they occurred as Maggie envisages, soon after launch so as to dump the stuff on the nation that had tried to launch it.