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US States Introduce Veteran Testing Programme

Some US troops returning from Iraq will be offered testing to check for contamination from DU. State legislators across the US are pushing ahead with laws that will provide their National Guard troops access to what they call ‘best practice health screening’.

Connecticut and Louisiana have already passed such legislation and another 18 are said to be considering similar steps. Connecticut's new law - pioneered by state legislator Pat Dillon - comes into effect on Saturday. Speaking to The Independent, Mrs Dillon, a Yale-trained epidemiologist said: "What this does is establish a standard. It means that our Guardsmen will have access to highly sensitive testing that can differentiate between background levels of radiation."

Former member of the New York National Guard, now turned DU activist, Gerard Matthew, served in Iraq from April to September 2003. He was not offered testing when he returned. A New York newspaper offered to arrange it for him and some friends. "[With the military] it never came up. They suppressed the whole DU thing," he said.

Mr Matthew was found to have suffered considerable radiation exposure. Two years on he suffers from migraines, erectile dysfunction and a swollen face - conditions that have developed since he returned from Iraq. His daughter, Victoria Claudette, was born with only two digits on her right hand.

However, the Connecticut and Louisiana laws have no money allocated, so it is not clear who will pay, let alone who would do the testing. The Louisiana legislation specifically prohibits state funding up front, and only describes what the test should be capable of doing with no details on the type of tests that will be used. The Connecticut legislation states that the test will be: ‘a best practice health screening test for exposure to depleted uranium.’

If the testing regime is anything like that of the UK Depleted Uranium Oversight Board, CADU has grave concerns that it will amount to little more than another DU whitewash.

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Page last updated: January 28, 2003