Reply to "Fallbrook Napalm - The Errors of That Website"
by Daniel Kripke

This is the unedited email I received from Daniel Kripke on 8 December 1998 in response to my webpage Fallbrook Napalm - The Errors of Kripke's Website. I will post my comments on this reply later in the week.

Tom Chester


                AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT

        First, I want to thank Tom Chester for the opportunity to enter into
this Internet discussion about the risks of napalm leaking near
Fallbrook.  He has been kind to link people to my point of view as well
as to his, and I admire this public spirit.


        First, we agree that the napalm is not the greatest risk which we face
in life, and the napalm risk is not so bad that it should scare anyone
from moving to Fallbrook.

        Second, we agree that if all that napalm ignites, it is much more
likely to produce a very large fire than to explode.  Thus, the napalm 
might make a fire storm as large as Hiroshima's (which is what I
stated), but it would not produce explosive blast equivalent to an atom
bomb.  Such a fire would not be large enough to burn up a major portion
of Southern California.
        Third, we both agree with the statement in my web site that, "It has
not yet been proven that there is a true excess of cancer in

        Fourth, as Tom Chester wrote, "It is pretty inexcusable of the Navy
not have cleaned up the napalm a long time ago."

        Finally, we agree that my presentation of the napalm issue is intended
to arouse political action.


        If Tom Chester is fair, he will agree that my web site states, "It has
not yet been proven that there is a true excess of cancer in
Fallbrook."  Concern that there is too much cancer in Fallbrook has
been expressed to me by residents.  Also, we point out that Channel 8
televised a similar fear, so publicity about the cancer issue is not
coming all from me.  Concern about cancer will serve a useful purpose
if it leads to identification of a problem and prevention.  If we can
prevent future cancers, it will have been useful to mobilize some

        My purpose in making public what I have heard about cancer in
Fallbrook is TO FIND OUT whether the fears of people in Fallbrook are
accurate, and to learn if there are more cancers in Fallbrook than can
be explained by bad luck.  I only took this step after the San Diego
County Health Department refused to respond to a letter and three
telephone calls, asking for help in clarifying the facts.  I believe
that people in Fallbrook need to put political pressure on the Health
Department to examine this question of cancer risk.  Pressuring the
Health Department will put fears to good use.  Meanwhile, I am pursuing
other scientific sources of information, to determine if something is
causing an increased risk of cancer in Fallbrook.

        Now, Tom Chester repeats the Navy's claim that benzene concentrations
near the firebombs are lower than those near gasoline pumps, but we
only spend a few minutes a week near gas pumps.  The napalm is leaking
all the time.  If you spent most of your time near a gasoline pump, you
would significantly increase your risk of cancer.  Nevertheless, I
understand that the Navy claims that the benzene concentrations leaking
from the firebombs are too low to cause a significant increase in
cancer.  Therefore, if the cancer rate is really increased, we should
consider other explanations.

        People in Fallbrook should not be so frightened of the napalm that
they move away, but they should be concerned enough to demand that
Congressmen Ron Packard and Randy Cunningham get the napalm cleaned up.
 American Democracy should work by the public persuading its
Representatives to respond to governmental problems.  It is pretty
inexcusable that these Representatives have not gotten the napalm
cleaned up a long time ago.  The Navy is refusing to hold a public
hearing in San Diego County, according to information I have received
from the California Department of Toxic Substances Control.  Thus, the
public's option is to use the political process to persuade their
Representatives to make the Navy get rid of the hazard.

        When I put up my Internet web site in November, 1997, the Navy was
claiming that full-scale napalm removal would begin on January 12,
1998.  Representative Packard publicized that same time schedule. 
Obviously, the Navy is once more NOT following its announced schedule. 
It is obvious that the Navy is having technical problems, which our
Representatives may not be competent to resolve, but there are two
problems which we should expect our Representatives to solve.

        First, the Navy's removal plan is facing serious political opposition
from Congressmen and Senators in Illinois and Indiana, where the Navy
plans to ship the napalm.  Our Representatives have a duty to resolve
this political opposition so that the napalm removal can proceed. 
Second, it seems that the problems in Illinois and Indiana are related
to the Navy's attempt to dispose of the napalm in the cheapest way. 
Our Representatives have a responsibility to appropriate sufficient
funding so that the napalm removal can be performed in the safest way
technically possible. 

        Now for some political comment.  For years, I have been concerned
about the horrible anti-environmental records of Representatives
Packard and Cunningham.  I freely disclosed to the North County Times
reporter (whom Tom Chester quoted) that I have an interest in politics,
and Packard and Cunningham have not been my political allies.  Since my
web site appeared, some people have asked me to run against Rep.
Cunningham.  I am considering filing as a candidate.  Therefore, if the
napalm removal does not get moving, the issue may become more political
than it is now.


        Yes, as everybody knows, they use napalm for firebombs because it
burns so well.  After all, it is half benzene and gasoline.  Bob
Schard, the Navy's project manager for napalm removal, described napalm
as "highly flammable" (Chicago Tribune, January 23, 1998).  "Highly
flammable" is also the description used by Pacific Northwest Laboratory
(the Navy's clean-up collaborator) in report PNL-9417, UC-721.  The
same report stated, "benzene/gasoline may present a serious fire and
explosion hazard."  The problem is that napalm gives off fumes of the
benzene and gasoline from which it is made.  In a confined space, these
fumes can form a fuel-air mixture which is highly explosive.  That is
why the Navy plans to drain the napalm firebombs in a nitrogen
atmosphere, to try to prevent such an explosive mixture from forming. 
Fortunately, an explosive fuel-air mixture is not likely to form from
firebombs leaking outdoors.

        Nevertheless, napalm can be ignited by a spark.  In fact, a spark from
a refrigerator set off napalm which burned down a building less than a
year ago.  For proof that napalm catches fire, browse at  for the unpleasant
details.  I know that Navy spokesmen have often tried to claim that
napalm can not be set off by a spark, but the truth is otherwise.  I
have seen what the firemen are quoted as saying, which Tom Chester
mentions.  I guess those firemen must have been more talented at
putting fires out than at starting them, or maybe the Navy slipped them
dried-out napalm.

        Tom Chester has invented some curious examples to reassure people
about the napalm.  He computes that there is less napalm in Fallbrook
than gasoline in the largest supertanker.  I would not want to live
within 20 miles of a supertanker full of gasoline if it were leaking
like the firebombs are.  Tom Chester computes that the 23,000,000
pounds of napalm are equivalent to "all the gas station tanks in a town
of 300,000..."  If as many of those gasoline tanks were leaking as
firebombs are leaking, personally I would get out of town fast.  It is
fortunate that the risk of leaking napalm is not as great as the risk
of leaking gasoline.

        TV pictures of the firebombs show that they are stacked one next to
another in crates of dry wood.  If one bomb caught fire, it would cover
the adjacent wooden crates and bombs with burning napalm, which would
melt the thin aluminum skin of the next bomb, and firemen would have
only a few seconds to respond before the fire spread uncontrollably to
acres of firebombs.


        Let me explain more clearly why there would be a cloud of poison gas
if the Fallbrook napalm were ignited.  The widest poisoning would occur
if the fire involved any nuclear weapons stored near the napalm.  If a
plutonium bomb is burned in a conflagration, it could indeed poison
several counties, even if there were no nuclear explosion.  I do not
know exactly where the Navy stores its nuclear weapons.  Perhaps they
are stored closer to downtown San Diego!  The next greatest risk arises
because the Fallbrook firebombs are surrounded by 6,500,000 pounds of
wooden crating, impregnated with two poisons, PCP (pentachlorophenol)
and chromium arsenate (arsenic).  Incineration of       
pentachlorophenol is one of the major sources of dioxins, which are
among the most dangerous poisons known.  The dioxins arising by burning
this crating would produce more dangerous poisons than burning napalm,
although polystyrene and gasoline produce toxic products if
incompletely burned, and there would be poisonous lead and arsenic in
the smoke cloud from the leaded gasoline and chromium arsenate.  These
multiple toxins would be far more poisonous than the smoke produced by
burning gasoline, which is not comparable.


           The purpose of publicizing the napalm risk of cancer and fire is to
advise the public to get the problem solved.  Prevention is much the
best approach.  It will take public political action to get the San
Diego County Health Department and Representatives Packard and
Cunningham to move to prevent  the peril.  Thanks, Tom Chester, for
inviting this comment.

Daniel F. Kripke, M.D  

Copyright © 1998 by Daniel Kripke.
Last update: 8 February 1998.