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.
MORE FACTS ABOUT THE NAPALM RISK: 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. POINTS ABOUT WHICH WE AGREE 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 Fallbrook." 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. WHAT ABOUT CANCER? 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 concern. 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. WHY AROUSE PEOPLE POLITICALLY? 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. DOES NAPALM CATCH FIRE, BURN, EXPLODE? 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 http://www.envirolink.org/ALF/news/970728a.html 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. A CLOUD OF POISON GAS 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. THANKS, TOM CHESTER, FOR INVITING THIS COMMENT 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.