Campaign Against Depleted Uranium

Introduction | News | Information | Resources | Affiliate | Action | Links | Contact

CADU Postcard Campaign Makes MoD's Day

AFirstly a big thank you to everyone who sent off their postcards to Mr Hoon MP.
As you will remember the postcards werecopies of the health warning given to troops prior to Gulf War II.

It would seem that the MoD decided that DU was in fact dangerous to health and that its troops should be informed. Unfortunately they neglected to inform the population of Iraq,which seems a little short sighted given that they have to actually live there.
We have had a great response to the campaign and are having a marvellous time sifting through the MoD’s replies.

Some of the more memorable statements from them include accusing Iraqi doctors of lying and claiming that chromosomal damage does not cause illness. What follows is our take on some of the issues raised.

Urine Analysis

The MoD is finally offering urine tests to Gulf War veterans, which is a positive step forward. Unfortunately, and in true MoD style, said urine tests are probably not the best indicator of DU exposure.The ceramicised DU dust formed when DU rounds hit their targets is prettyinsoluble stuff. This means that once it is lodged in the lungs it dissolves extremely slowly. A proportion of the DU dust is soluble and what is not laid down in bones and the brain leaves the body fairly quickly.

The insoluble portion, however, will only exit the body very slowly and in minute amounts. We have asked the MoD for more details of their tests as they need tobe extremely precise to accurately measure the trace amounts of uranium.
As you may have guessed, this means that post-event urinalysis is rather poor at measuring the amount of damaging, ceramicised DU in victims’ lungs.

Chromosomal Testing

We are encouraging the MoD to use thetest developed by Professor Schott. This is based on radiation damage at a chromosomal level. The test measures the number of dicentric and ring chromosomes in a subject’s cells. These have been used as
indicators of radiation damage in cells for many years. But, despite the test being used in the Kenhy Duncan compensation case, the MoD still refuses to accept that it can accurately show DU chromosome damage, even when other factors such as
smoking and medical x-rays are taken into account.

Our next concern is with their exposure levels. The MoD are using figures provided by the Royal Society’s DU investigation. These state that troops are unlikely to be affected unless they are exposed under‘extreme circumstances’, e.g. being in
a vehicle hit by a DU round (DU inhalation will be the least of their worries).

High exposure can also come about through returning to a vehicle to help injured comrades. While all this is fine for troops in theatre, there seems to be very little information on, or concern about, post-conflict exposure.

It does not take a genius to realise that battle wreckage will have an almost magnetic effect on children. Playing in DU damaged vehicles is bound to expose children to dangerous levels of DU dust over a long period of time. But in most of the responses we have seen, there does not seem to be much mention of civilian exposure. Nor comment on the arid dusty conditions in Iraq and the propagation of dust clouds.

Health Studies

To give them their due though, in one response they assured us that the MoD has been exchanging information with‘many humanitarian and commercial organisations operating in Iraq’ with a view to helping out with epidemiological studies.

They also claim to be supporting the WHO’s proposals to conduct scientific studies to determine any association between DU exposure and reported increases in childhood leukemia and birth defects. Although in a different response they claimed
that doctors’ claims should not be taken at ‘face value’. (Must be an untrustworthy lot, these doctors!) In fact they go on at some length about the possible studies the MoD want to get involved in. Impressive stuff? Maybe.

What they fail to mention, is a timeframe. Only a minor detail of course but one that we hope to pin them down on in the near future. Now that Iraq is a peaceful beacon of democracy, a decent independent epidemiological study can’t be too far
behind... Can it?

Chromosomal Damage

‘Chromosomal changes can arise from any number of different exposures to ionising radiation...there is no proof that these changes result in any ill health.’ Now, we want to believe the MoD, we really do, they have gone to so much effort replying
to us, but when they come out with nonsense like that it makes you question everything they have written. One can only presume that they have never heard of Down’s Syndrome or Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia. Well, they have now.

So where do we go from here? Well, the only way forward is to keep writing. We shall try and get a compilation or greatest hits gallery of the replies we have been sent on the website. This should help you draft your responses. If there is any background information that you need and that cannot be found on the website or in our information pack, drop us a line at the office and we will try our best to answer your queries.

Finally our thanks to everyone who has posted us copies of the MoD’s replies. Keep them coming.

Dear Miss Akua Agyei - A Beginners Guide to MoD Correspondence

Should you be interested in writing to the MoD for some clarification on depleted uranium issues, here are some tips to help make the most of your postage.

Do your background research - there is no point in making their jobs too easy. Check the CADU website for the MoD’s greatest hits.If you need any assistance contact CADU for the latest DU information. Email or telephone is easiest for us.

Make sure your letters are individualised: there is no point in sending a series of identical letters as you will just receive identical answers.

Read, read and read again - jargon seems to the watchword of those at the MoD. Their peculiar brand of military jive is extremely effective at sending the brain to sleep.

Challenge everything - they can sound pretty convincing but, upon closer inspection, many of their claims begin to fall apart.

Ask for sources and references - they are tremendously keen on quoting various reports, organisations and inquiries, but less keen on quoting their sources.

Send your letters to:
Miss Akua Agyei,
Veterans Policy Unit,
Ministry of Defence,
7th Floor,
Zone H,
Main Building,

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Read more articles about The Movement to Ban Depleted Uranium

Introduction | News | Information | Resources | Affiliate | Action | Links | Contact

Page last updated: 6th December 2002