As Advertised; May 1994; Scientific American Magazine; by Leutwyler; 1 Page(s)
Anew character has joined the ranks of Joe Camel, Beavis and Butthead, Bart Simpson and other 'toons you love to hate. He is Mr. Pluto, a wide-eyed little fellow who wears a shiny, green helmet labeled Pu, the chemical tag for plutonium. Mr. Pluto stars in an 11-minute video developed last fall by the Japanese Power Reactor and Nuclear Fuel Corporation (PNC). The company hoped Mr. Pluto would calm the public's concerns over the plutonium fueling their prototype fastbreeder reactor, Monju, which was slated to reach criticality in April.
PNC's animated spokesman cheerfully assures his audience that "unlike radium, there is no proven case of plutonium in the body causing cancer." Moreover, he insists that terrorists could not build a working nuclear weapon from the reactor-grade plutonium used and produced by Monju. Mr. Pluto explains that even if someone drank water from a reservoir contaminated with plutonium, nearly all of the element would pass harmlessly through the body. Indeed, Mr. Pluto is shown holding hands with a trusting young buddy who drinks several mugs of plutonium-laced water. "There are many people out there who think of plutonium as a big, bad monster, " Mr. Pluto frowns. "Do you have an image of me as something frightening?"