Campaign Against Depleted Uranium

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Italian DU Commission Publishes Findings

The Italian parliamentary commission for investigating the effects of depleted uranium has finally published and voted on its conclusions. The final report was approved with eight votes in favour, five abstentions and none against.

The Italian Parliament had stopped its activity because of the elections and tensions on the committee were running high. The majority of its members were from Berlusconi's Forza party, a fact which made many doubt its independence. There was also shock that any agreement had been reached.

DU was found "not directly responsible" for the deaths and cancers of Italian Balkan war veterans, (44 dead so far, and more than 300 with cancer). But it concluded that there may be an indirect role for DU, through the production of nanoparticles.

According to the commission, only soldiers who were directly exposed to DU bombings should face a significant risk of illness. However, the Italian soldiers were deployed much later leading them to conclude that environmental pollution created by the bombings could have been another indirect cause.

As with Gulf War veterans, vaccinations were also blamed for the health problems. Some old medicines, such as Neotif, had been blamed for this, in spite of the fact that none of the dead soldiers received these kinds of vaccines.

The Italian MoD failed to give sufficient information on the roles and deployment of soldiers. This has made it difficult to develop accurate statistical and epidemiological evidence on their exposure levels. The MoD and arms companies were also accused of not supplying complete information when the committee investigated health problems around firing ranges.

Activists believe the report was passed because it offered increased compensation to veterans - a key part of the electorate. For the first time ill soldiers will receive compensation that had previously been restricted only to the families of the dead.

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Page last updated: January 28, 2003