Campaign to Force Labelling of DU Munitions in Transportation
Four groups in the United States, Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action,
the Traprock Peace Center, the Military Toxics Project and Nukewatch have
started a "Depleted Uranium Munitions Action Plan" to force
the military to label DU munitions. They argue that "The United States
military does not want civilian populations to know how and when DU munitions
are being shipped through their communities for fear of "unnecessary
public concern about the radiation risks associated with DU
"Normally this type of shipment would be labelled with both Department of Transportation (DOT) "Radioactive" and "Explosive" placards. Branches of the U.S. military, however, have a special Department of Transportation exemption, DOT-E 9649, which allows them to ship DU munitions without the "Radioactive" placard. The exemption must be renewed every few years by the DOT and the Military Traffic Management Command.
The current DU munitions shipping exemption expires on June 30, 2004. Public pressure could force the DOT to not renew the next application for exemption by the Military Traffic Management Command. DU munitions should have a "Radioactive" placard and an "Explosives" placard on shipments. DU is an extremely toxic material and much more dangerous when shipped with an explosive propellant as in the case of DU munitions."
The Department of Defence argues there would be no increased risk to the public by not labelling the shipments radioactive, because "in the unlikely event of an accident or incident involving transportation of DU munitions, the DoD maintains Explosive Ordinance Disposal teams nationwide trained in the health hazards associated with DU munitions. These teams are capable of responding on short notice with protective equipment and radiation survey instruments". Activists however have countered this by pointing out that, without labelling, in a fire or accident the local police and firefighters would have no idea the shipment contained radioactive material. They are asking that the public contact the Department of Transportation Exemptions division and ask that the DOT immediately terminate and not renew DOT-E 9649.
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Page last updated: 6th December 2002