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  • Canada must do more on depleted uranium weapons

    ICBUW has produced a new briefing on Canada and DU weapons, it finds that in spite of claims to the contrary, Canada has shown little international leadership on the issue. Available to download in English and French.
  • ICBUW needs your help if our work is to continue.

    Last week, the Norwegian government announced that it will no longer fund ICBUW’s research and advocacy on DU weapons. We are now facing a funding crisis that could result in us having to close the secretariat and make the staff redundant.
  • The A-10 warthog: raising depleted uranium’s threshold of acceptability

    The apparent U-turn by the Pentagon over DU use by aircraft in Operation Inherent Resolve has been cautiously welcomed by campaigners, but is it a sign of a wider policy shift? Is the threshold of acceptability for the use of DU in operations rising in response to international pressure over the controversial munitions and what part has the A-10 played in this?
  • Pentagon announces U-turn on use of depleted uranium in Iraq and Syria

    The Pentagon has announced that depleted uranium (DU) munitions have not, and will not, be used by US aircraft in the conflict against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The policy U-turn contrasts with statements made over previous months, where Pentagon officials claimed that DU would be used if needed; the decision reflects a growing stigmatisation of the controversial weapons.
  • "Fear of a slow death" civilians raise concerns over depleted uranium use in Syria

    The news that US A-10 gunships are now also active in Syria in operations against Islamic State has coincided with the emergence of reports that Syrian civilians fear the long-term health impact of the Coalition’s airstrikes.

Toxic Remnants of War Project Launched

A research project seeking to assess the health and environmental impact of toxic substances released during military activities has been launched by the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons (ICBUW) and IKV Pax Christi.
11 April 2012 - ICBUW

TRW project logo The Toxic Remnants of War Project will seek to catalogue and classify a range of substances that are used during conflict and which may have a long-term health impact on civilians, or result in damage to the environment. The project will also examine the indirect release of hazardous materials during warfare, through attacks on industrial sites, uncontrolled releases from military facilities or the destruction of infrastructure.

“Recent conflicts have seen civilian populations increasingly bearing the brunt of armed violence but, while the impact of explosive or indiscriminate weapons such as land mines and cluster bombs have been well documented, less is known about the toxic effects of conflict,” said ICBUW Coordinator Doug Weir. “History has shown that civilian health suffers as a result of warfare, the question is, to what extent are the materials used by the military, or released during conflict, adding to this burden?”

Substances used in offensive operations include heavy metals such as lead and depleted uranium; speciality alloys that may contain thorium or beryllium; propellants or explosives such as RDX; and obscurants such as white phosphorous. The toxic footprint from military bases may include fuels, oils, heavy metals and other hazardous wastes. Many of these are known to be toxic, but detailed information on how they interact within the environment and whether civilians are being exposed to them may be lacking. The problem is exacerbated by the limited capacity of states recovering from conflict to manage hazardous materials effectively and monitor civilian health.

Some states have begun to reduce their use of the most toxic materials in weapons, many out of concern for contamination on domestic firing ranges or to protect personnel. But there has been much less focus on the potential for civilian exposures, with the military utility of the weapons taking precedence. Yet toxics are increasingly tightly regulated in peacetime, for example in consumer goods or in efforts to control emissions during manufacturing and transport. The TRW Project will eventually examine whether peacetime health and environmental protection norms should play a stronger role in assessing the acceptability of certain materials or activities in times of war.

The project is funded by the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Developments in the project can be followed via an online research hub at www.toxicremnantsofwar.info or via Twitter @detoxconflict

Notes:

Toxicremnantsofwar.info is a research orientated website that aims to consider and quantify the detrimental impact of war, military operations and munitions on the environment and human health. The site is intended to act as a resource for policy makers, humanitarian organisations and members of the public concerned with mitigating the effects of war on victims and communities. http://www.toxicremnantsofwar.info/

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