The risks of Depleted Uranium are not only present during wars, or
far-off conflicts, but affect us much closer to home, where the weapons
are manufactured and tested.
of depleted uranium shells started in 1980 at Eskmeals in Cumbria
and at the Ministry of Defence's firing range at Dundrennan, near
Kirkcudbright in South-west Scotland in 1981. Firing of depleted uranium
by the MoD has also occurred at West Freugh near Stranraer, White
Sands, New Mexico, Aberdeen, Maryland in the United States, and Gramat
In June 1993 the MoD, answering a parliamentary question, in effect
denied that there was any problem with 'only very low levels of radioactivity'
detected. But when radiation reports were made public (with some excisions)
in July these revealed serious contamination outside the controlled
area at Eskmeals, and grass and soil samples at Kirkcudbright were
'well above acceptable limits'.
The firing results in the accumulation of radioactive waste at these
sites, currently 91 cubic metres at Eskmeals estimated to rise to
468 cubic metres by 2030. At Kirkcudbright there is considered to
be no nuclear waste as depleted uranium shells are fired into the
At Kirkcudbright a misfiring on 13 November 1989 involved a depleted
uranium shell exploding into fragments on hitting a stone bank. This
resulted in a local concentration of 1,692 mg/kg well exceeding the
MoD's normal limit of 72 mg/kg and upper limit of 300 mg/kg. Presumably,
in investigating this incident, military personnel inspected the site
of impact and were exposed to this concentration. Depending on wind
and weather conditions, local populations in Britain may be exposed
to unknown concentrations over prolonged periods.
For a report on the potential testing of depleted uranium off Cape
Wrath in Scotland, see CADU News 3.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _