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DU on Scrap Heaps

Following on from the story in the last issue of CADU news about DU found in a scrap yard, an even more farcical but worrying story was broken by the Guardian newspaper last month. The report, written by Simon Bowers and Paul Brown claims that

"Fifty tonnes of depleted uranium is lying unmonitored in scrap heaps across Britain, posing a growing risk of environmental contaminations and to workers according to US government documents. The uranium was used as components in aircraft and hospital radiotherapy units and increasingly is left unregulated as the equipment is decommissioned.

The information was released under US freedom of information laws but has been declared confidential by the environment agency and by the Department of trade and Industry in Britain.

The US firm Philotechnics, has applied to salvage the uranium and recycle it where possible. It would not specify to which use the recycled material would be put, but the Guardian has learnt that the company intends to pass it to another firm, which has produced equipment for the US department of defence."

This could mean that DU from Britain is recycled into US DU weaponry. The article continues

"This is the first proposed shipment of the material out of Britain, There is no recycling or disposal route available in the UK and airlines and hospitals are said to be increasingly concerned as the extent of the scrap emerges…..Philotechnics said that while aircraft were in service the DU in use was primed, plated and painted to prevent corrosion, but Donald Barbour, Philotechnics aviation programmes manager, warned that after decommissioning it was "highly probable" the counterweights would release uranium oxides. These are toxic and residual radioactivity causes cancer. Miles Warren, director of Active Collection Bureau, in Sittingbourne, Kent - where the first 20 tonne shipment will be gathered within weeks if the application is approved, said there would be many sources of scrapped uranium components..

Under Philotechnics' proposals the usable material would be transferred to the recycling specialists Manufacturing Sciences Corporation.

Since 1985 MSc, bought by British Nuclear Fuels in 1997, has recycled 2,700 tonnes of DU into more than 70,000 products.'

If any CADU supporter has the time and desire to follow this up, please get in touch, as we'd love to pursue this further but lack the time just now.

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From CADU News 4: Autumn 2000

Read more articles about The Nuclear Industry and the Production of Depleted Uranium

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Page last updated: January 28, 2003