Time for the Truth
When the Doha ammunition dump in Kuwait exploded in 1991, 100 US soldiers from the US 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment were seriously injured and another 400 needed medical treatment. A 50-strong contingent of Canadian sappers came to the aid of the panic-stricken troopers and were praised for their heroism and professional conduct by the American Commander. The leader, Major Fred Kaustinen, was commended by General John DeChastelain for his outstanding personal leadership.
When the story of their bravery was covered up, people thought it was to save the US embarrassment, as their soldiers had fled in terror, but the reason was far more sinister.
In January 2001, it was discovered that the Doha dump had in fact contained DU munitions. Canada's senior military preventive health officer, Colonel Ken Scott, had only been advised by the Pentagon of the exposure to DU in February 2000. He had not warned soldiers of the possible health risks - "it would only increase their stress levels."
The newspaper, the Ottawa Citizen, managed to track down 18 of the 50 combat engineers who had been in Doha. 10 of them reported that they now suffered from some form of immune deficiency-related ailments, while others stated that their children had been born with "congenital anomalies". No attempt has been made by the military to trace the remaining 32 DU exposed veterans.
Yet the Doha explosion produced "the worst DU contamination site on record", according to Professor Albrecht Schott, who explained that the heat generated by the blast was beyond what the U.S. scientists had believed possible, upwards of 2000°C.
Not only did the DU shells detonate, creating a radioactive aerosol, but the DU armour on the U.S. tanks also ignited and burned. Professor Schott says that the resultant "high temperature chemistry" created "new" substances which are completely uncharted in modern science. "These particular Canadian soldiers weren't just exposed to DU, they were exposed to DU plus," said Schott.
Of course, the Iraqi civilian exposure to DU is of even less interest to the military, so we are grateful to Dr. Schott for undertaking to examine the effects of depleted uranium on the Iraqi population. Hit by over 30 000 DU rounds during the Gulf War, the civilians in Iraq are currently suffering from a massive outbreak of leukaemia and congenital anomalies among their children. Until now, the United States has prevented any initiatives by the World Health Organization to conduct a full scientific survey of DU related illnesses in Iraq. We understand that DU has been used in urban environments in the latest Iraqi conflict. This strikes us as criminal. Given the secrecy about Doha DU exposure, what chance is there of studies into the effects on civilians of DU used?
Read more articles about The Military and Depleted Uranium
Page last updated: January 28, 2003