Campaign Against Depleted Uranium


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CADU NEWS 13
Winter 2003

Contents
- Victory in Vieques!!
- No War on Iraq
- Gulf Vets warn Against Use of DU in future War in Iraq
- UNEP Identifies DU Risks in Bosnia-Herzegovina
- Stress not cause of Gulf War Syndrome
- Gulf syndrome' forces vicar's retirement
- New website for Gulf War veterans
- BNFL subsidiary stores DU in cardboard boxes!!
- New Uranuim Enrichment plant
- 3 women arrested on DU action
- DU in WW2?
- Depleted-uranium munitions and fourth-generation nuclear weapons
- DU Whistleblower wins settlement
- Fire at US DU Factory
- Kofi Annan addresses DU issue
-
Army plans to stop DU monitoring in Indiana
- Human Rights Day conference on Iraq
- Afghanistan: The Nuclear Nightmare Starts

- CADU Appeal
- Forthcoming DU Book
- U.S. Navy uses DU in coast waters; activists may go to court

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VICTORY IN VIEQUES!!

 

Readers of CADU News will be aware of the ongoing battle that the residents of Vieques have had to stop the U.S. Navy using their island for bombing practice. Their campaign of civil disobedience has finally won. It was announced last week that the Navy will be withdrawing from the Puerto Rican island by the 1st of May this year.

The U.S. Navy, which owns a third of the island, has carried out military manoeuvres there, including the testing of depleted uranium, for the last sixty years. In 1999, after the death of a resident, killed accidentally by the navy, the People's Assembly of Vieques issued an ultimatum, with the unanimous support of all of Puerto Rico´s community sectors and with the support of the Puerto Rican Government, which demanded the immediate departure of the U.S. Navy. They also condemned the use of depleted uranium, napalm bombs and other chemical and toxic weapons condemned by international public opinion because of their adverse impact on health and the environment.

Since then, the people of Vieques formed the Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques, and began a committed campaign of civil disobedience. They continually trespassed onto the military ranges, setting up illegal protest camps, and taking their message to the world.

The U.S Navy informed the government of Puerto Rico that the military will cease using Vieques, instead using other sites in Florida and the US mainland. The memo dated Jan 2003 from the Chief of Naval Operations is testimony to how effective the direct action resistance has been -

"In addition, physical security at Vieques is becoming ever more difficult and costly to maintain, given the civil unrest which accompanies the Navy's presence on the island. We have been successful in completing our training on the island only because of extremely aggressive and costly multi-agency security actions. The level of protests, attempted incursions, and isolated successful incursions generally remain high when Battle Group training occurs on the island. The Navy has devoted significant resources to maintain range security and safety, as well as the safety of our onsite personnel. Even so, our Sailors are continually subjected to an unsatisfactory environment in Puerto Rico. The support of the local police organization has been unable to provide the kind of safety we would demand at any other site in the U.S. The Navy's departure from Vieques will liberate us from this burden."

However, this news came only days after the islanders were informed that a new wave of training exercises were to begin on the island this month (Jan) which could last up to a month.

Gov. Sila Calderon, who opposes the training, sent a letter to President Bush on Friday calling the plan "patently offensive."

The people of Vieques, promised to keep up civil disobedience during what is likely to be the last round of military exercises, and five people were already arrested sneaking onto military lands before exercises resumed.. "On May 1st, the lands will still be contaminated and will still be in federal hands. That's the next battle" said David Noriega, one of the protestors.

The following report from the Peace and Justice Camp sums up their inspiring and successful struggle.

During these last few days the Secretary of the Navy certified to the Congress and the President that there exist alternate sites for the bombing practices which for sixty years have taken place in Vieques, and that in May of this year the Navy will cease using the bombing range here. This news represents a tremendous advance in the struggle for peace for Vieques. Nevertheless, the Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques insists that peace is much more than the end of bombing. Our community's historic demands in the face of the military presence can be summarized by the 4 D's: demilitarization, decontamination, devolution of the lands and sustainable development of a Free Vieques.

The determination by the Secretary of the Navy also certifies the effectiveness of civil disobedience and the consistent denunciation and protests by all sectors of Puerto Rican society in favor of peace for Vieques. It is a testimony to the power of an organized community that is committed to a peaceful but militant struggle, and to the perseverance of the Vieques community - not for years, but for decades. The organized groups here have contributed during more than half a century, to a level of consciousness and spirit of struggle that has made it possible for this "tiny" community, with enormous solidarity and massive support from all of Puerto Rico, to paralyze the most powerful military force in the history of humanity. The certification is evidence of the power of a people organized and in the streets, of fishermen in the sea, of women and men, youth and elders, people from all ideological sectors - political as well as religious - a community united and committed to justice and peace.

More info from Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques, PO Box 1424 Vieques, Puerto Rico 00765

Tel(787) 741-0716 Fax 741-0358, or www.viequeslibre.org

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NO WAR ON IRAQ

Legal Challenge

CADU is adding its voice to the growing number of NGO's who have joined forces to issue an ultimatum to the British Government. Following CND's legal challenge to the Government over the proposed war on Iraq (see www.cnduk.org), which despite initial success was declared unjusticiable by the courts, there are plans to pursue this further.

Interested NGO's were meeting on 15th January (as CADU News went out) to discuss the serving of notice on the Defence Secretary, Geoff Hoon, of their intention to pursue the government to the International Criminal Court (ICC), should international human rights and international law be breached in any attack on Iraq.

The letter declares the intention to collect evidence as to whether the use of force against Iraq breaches requirements of IHL. This will be presented to an inquiry organised by the Permanent People's Tribunal based in Italy. Its panel will consist of eminent international lawyers and others experienced in this field. The judgement of this panel, and supporting evidence of NGO's will be presented to the Prosecutor of the ICC, who will be urged to analyse the evidence and proceed to investigate the UK government.

CADU has had input into this process, and depleted uranium is now specifically mentioned in the letter.

This action has the support of Mark Thomas of Ch 4, and is being organised by CND and Phil Shiner of Public Interest Lawyers. More info from www.cnduk.org, or 0207 700 2393

Anti-War Movement Mushrooms

There is not enough space here to report on the enormous amounts of actions, rallies, demonstrations, petitions etc which have happened across the globe against the impending war on Iraq.

From a peace protest at the South Pole on midnight on New Year's Eve to the United States, where over 100 naked people formed their bodies into one word 'PEACE' visible from the air, people are saying NO! to war.

In Cairo last month, an initiative called the International Campaign Against US Aggression on Iraq was launched at a conference attended by over 400 delegates from the Arab world as well as the international peace movement. The coordinating committee of this group includes the former President of Algeria, Ahmed Ben Bella.

Protesters in Turkey burned US flags on New Year's Eve in a demo against a possible war on neighbouring Iraq.

A peace camp has been set up just metres outside the Irish airport in Shannon which provides stopover (overnight) and refueling services to US military flights as Ireland's part in the so-called "war on terrorism". Contact shannonpeacecamp@hotmail.com

Here in the UK, there have been actions at almost all US military bases in the country, with people being arrested for trespassing, intent to cause criminal damage, and at Menwith Hill US Spy base, tens of thousands of pounds of damage was caused by peace activists trying to stop war.

Global Demonstration Against War - Feb 15th

February 15th is a big day of action, with demos happening across Europe and the globe. Here in the UK, we have to make it count, as our government is the major ally with the US in their war-mongering. Contact Stop the War Coalition for contacts in your area, details of transport to London for the demo. If you make your own way there, it is meeting at noon at Embankment, and marching to Hyde Park. Last time, on September 28th, there was over 300,000 people - we must make it half a million this time. www.stopwar.org.uk,

Human Shields in Iraq

A convoy of anti-war activists from across Europe are travelling to Iraq this month to act as human shields. The convoy to Baghdad is organised by former US Marine Ken Nichols, who served in the first Gulf war but is now a vociferous opponent of another Gulf conflict. They will leave from London across Europe, holding rallies in various cities and gathering other human shields along the way. Once in Iraq, members of the convoy will identify infrastructure targets for bombing, such as power stations, key bridges and roads, and deploy themselves as human shields in the glare of the international media. More info from www.uksociety.org/ or www.iraqpeaceteam.org/

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Gulf Vets warn against use of DU in future war on Iraq

Two Gulf War Veterans have issued a `Two part warning to the Citizens of the world - "Do Not Use Depleted Uranium Munitions Again".

The statement, put out in Jan this year, was issued by Dr. Doug Rokke, former U.S. Army's DU team health physicist, and former U.S. Army's DU Project Director and George Angus Parker, formerly Sgt with the 1st Field Laboratory Unit, Biological-Warfare Detection Unit, Porton Down.

Rokke gives a detailed report on his involvement with DU, ending with this conclusion "As the military and civilian leaders of the United States and Great Britain contemplate pre-emptive attacks on the nation of Iraq; the citizens of the world, all humanitarian agencies, the United Nations and all concerned law-abiding governments of the world must raise a unified voice to ban the use of depleted uranium munitions and force those nations that have used depleted uranium munitions to recognize the immoral consequences of their actions and assume responsibility for medical care and thorough environmental remediation. A nation's military personnel cannot wilfully contaminate any other nation, cause harm to persons and the environment and then ignore the consequences of their actions. To do so is a crime against GOD and humanity!!! WE MUST DO WHAT IS RIGHT FOR GOD AND THE CITIZENS OF THE WORLD — BAN DU !!!"

Parker begins by saying that "war is nothing more than a monument to the incompetence of politicians and their advisors.". He adds his support to the facts about DU laid down by Rokke, and goes on to say that witnessing the suffering of Gulf War vets and their families has had a dramatic effect on the way he views future military deployments. "Rather than valued members of society owed a debt of honour for defending the state, I am now aware that armed forces personnel are considered as disposable items. Something to be used, abused and then discarded when broken. Furthermore, when made ill by the use of politically sensitive weapons such as DU, they are an expensive embarrassment to be silenced when voicing concerns." Parker concludes "It is my sincere and heartfelt belief that until such time as the UK and US governments can properly care for ill and dying veterans of war, they should refrain from deploying members of the armed forces overseas. As for the contention should we invade Iraq again, this time to overthrow the government of that country? I contest the rationale, competency and therefore the relevance of the question".

Vets call for troops to resist

Other veterans have added their voices to the anti-war movement, by issuing a call for resistance to war to members of the armed forces.

Signatories to the statement include Ken Nichols, the ex US marine who is leading the human shield effort in Iraq (see story in this issue). The statement pulls no punches in its assessment of the phoney "War on Terrorism", describing it as a global offensive by benign imperialists on the people of the world. It also condemns the attack on civil liberties at home. Addressed to troops, it calls upon them to REFUSE... RESIST...REBEL!!

"Imperialists are imperialists, and there is nothing "benign" about them when they go to war. They are always seeking to fortify and extend their political, economic and military control over the globe. They tell us to defend their "civilizations", but what is civilized about societies built on slavery, genocide, colonialism and perpetual war? Their definition of "civilization" is a world where the riches of a small elite in a handful of countries are literally stolen from the sweat and blood of the oppressed populations in the rest of the world, as they ecologically destroy the planet in the process."

It warns troops of the sickness and death as a result of DU, innoculations, Agent Orange and other things. "From our own experience, we know all too well what "defending our country" really means: killing and dying for the interests of those who rule over us. The situation today is no different than in all the other wars for Power, Profit, and Plunder. Our rulers don't give a damn about the civilians who were killed on Sept. 11. Without loyal troops there can be no war. We have learned that as soldiers in the oppressor's armies we are just cogs in the wheel of their death machine. But we have also learned that organized resistance within the military can put a massive wrench in this machine.

It is time to unite with the oppressed of the world, not with the oppressors who force us to cut each other's throats!"

For more info contact: Stop The War Brigade, 00 49 (0)177 481-6128, stopthewarbrigade@yahoo.com, Sign On-Line At: www.angelfire.com/jazz/stwb

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UNEP Identifies DU Risks in Bosnia-Herzegovina

A team of experts fielded by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has investigated 15 sites in Bosnia and Herzegovina targeted with weapons containing depleted uranium (DU) during the mid-1990s.

The UNEP team used highly sensitive instruments to measure surface radioactivity at 14 sites (one they could not enter due to nearby mines) These measurements revealed the presence of radioactive "hot spots" and pieces of DU weapons at three sites - the Hadzici tank repair facility, the Hadzici ammunition storage area and the Han Pijesak barracks.

"Following a request by the Council of Ministers of Bosnia-Herzegovina, UNEP is carrying out this scientific assessment", said Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of UNEP. "Seven years after the conflict, DU still remains an environmental concern and, therefore, it is vital that we have the scientific facts, based upon which we can give clear recommendations how to minimize any risk."

"We are concerned about the situation at the Hadzici tank repair facility and the Han Pijesak barracks", said Pekka Haavisto, Chairman of UNEP DU projects. "The UNEP team detected DU-related materials and DU dust inside buildings that are currently used by local businesses or, in the case of Han Pijesak, by troops as storage facilities." "Before using any DU-targeted building there should always be proper clean-up. When people are working in buildings that have not been decontaminated, unnecessary risks are being taken, and, therefore, we will discuss with the Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities the need for decontamination inside the buildings currently in use as a first precautionary step. Such a job should be carried out by experts", said Mr. Haavisto.

The UNEP team found that the general public is not aware of what DU ammunition looks like and the dangers it can pose. UNEP will discuss with the national civil protection authorities the possibility of offering de-mining personnel, other local authorities involved in DU work, and interested members of the public an easy-to-read flyer on the issue of DU ammunition in the environment.

The two recommended precautionary measures of decontaminating the targeted buildings and educating the public are consistent with those proposed in UNEP's earlier DU studies in Serbia & Montenegro and Kosovo.

A medical sub-team composed of the experts from WHO and the US Army Center (USACHPPM) visited three hospitals and examined medical data and statistics in the Bosnia and Herzegovina Federation and in the Republika Srpska.

The UNEP DU assessment is funded by the Governments of Italy and Switzerland. The final results will be published in a UNEP report in March 2003.

For more information, please contact: Pekka Haavisto, Chairman of UNEP DU Projects, pekka.haavisto@unep.ch, http://www.unep.org

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Stress not cause of Gulf War Syndrome

A British Study, concluded last Autumn, has dispelled any ideas that stress could be a cause of Gulf War Syndrome. The study of 111 disabled Desert Storm veterans from Great Britain found that Gulf War illness was not a psychiatric disorder connected to stress. The study was funded by the U.S. Department of Defense and was conclusive.

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Gulf syndrome' forces vicar's retirement

A former Army chaplain was forced to retire last November because of illnesses he believes are caused by Gulf War Syndrome. Reverend Dave Peachell left his duties at churches in Norfolk. He served for three months in the Gulf and was officially discharged from the Church, suffering from a string of illnesses which have attacked his nervous and immune systems.

The Church has officially recognised "Gulf War Illness" as the grounds for Mr Peachell's retirement.

Mr Peachell, said successive governments had not faced up to the illness, which campaigners claim has killed more than 500 Gulf War veterans and left more than a thousand ill.

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New website for Gulf War veterans

Gulf War veterans now have easy access to Gulf War-related medical research information on an Internet site called "Medsearch" at www.gulflink.osd.mil/medsearch.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Defense, and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) have combined resources to create this one-stop shop of research information relating to the illnesses of Gulf War veterans.

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BNFL subsidiary stores DU in cardboard boxes!!

The Independent reported recently that DU was being stored in cardboard boxes by a subsidiary of BNFL. Westinghouse Government Services, in which BNFL group has a 40 per cent stake, was criticised in a report into its $600m (£380m) contract to clean up an old nuclear bomb factory at Savannah River in South Carolina. a massive nuclear clean-up operation in the US, run by a subsidiary of BNFL, has been slammed by inspectors for having poor safety management and cost control. Inspectors from the US Department of Energy found that WGS had an "inadequate and ineffective" approach to "risk prioritisation" when dealing with safety and a "limited probability of success" in managing costs. The nuclear watchdogs also exposed unsafe storage of 22,000 tonnes of depleted uranium managed by Westinghouse at Savannah River. It is stored in drums, cardboard and wooden boxes inside "corroded" buildings on timbers that have "rotted and failed".

The DofE made a site visit during the summer and found that WGS avoided difficult and expensive work, such as building decommissioning and stabilising nuclear material. It said WGS "weighs business elements more heavily (by a factor of three) than risk elements" and had a system that did not differentiate between small and large accidents.

The damaging report came at an embarrassing time for BNFL, as the draft Bill to set up a £48bn agency to sort out Britain's nuclear legacy was highlighted in the Queen's Speech only the week before the report came out, last November. BNFL is expected to be central to this clean-up.

BNFL said it was not the lead contractor on the Savannah River project and referred all calls to Washington Group, its partner, which was not available for comment.

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New Uranuim Enrichment plant

A local US newspaper, the Columbus Dispatch, reported the announcement that a $50 million test enrichment plant will be built in Piketon instead of in Paducah, Kentucky with a glee that supporters of CADU will find astonishing. Describing the enthusiastic response to the `good news', the paper focuses on how great this new plant will be for jobs and the local economy.

Nowhere in the article is any discussion of the problems that are caused in the communities around uranium-enrichment facilities. Environmental factors do not feature at all. There is no mention of the troubles that former workers have had in Paducah, (when they were exposed unknowingly to plutonium) or the battle they had to get compensation. There is no mention of the astronomical $134million it costs to clean up the Paducah plant ( CADU news 11 & 12). If the people of Piketon were aware of these problems, surely they would stop cheering and start campaigning for more ethical investment in their local economy.

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Three women arrested on DU action

Three women were arrested on misdemeanor trespassing charges last November after an anti-war protest at the Armed Forces Recruiting Center in Bellingham USA. The women blocked the entrance and refused to let anyone in for about 2 hours. Together with 6 others, they handed out leaflets protesting the use of DU in U.S. weapons.

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DU in WW2?

This interesting snippet was posted to the DU email list recently, and although CADU cannot confirm that DU was used in some weapons in the second world war, it is certainly alarming food for thought.

"Recently I was reading Albert Speer's memoirs and came upon this: "In the summer of 1943, wolframite [tungsten] imports from Portugal were cut off, which created a critical situation for the production of solid-core [armor piercing] ammunition. I thereupon ordered the use of uranium cores for this type of ammunition. My release of our uranium stocks of about twelve hundred metric tons showed that we no longer had any thought of producing atom bombs."

This is the first reference I have seen to the possible use of uranium-containing projectiles in WWII. I wondered if this has been investigated by others.

Alan Muller Green Delaware

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Depleted-uranium munitions and fourth-generation nuclear weapons

The reasons why DU weapons have been developed and used is still a puzzle: Prominent international lawyers claim that DU weapons are illegal, metallurgists say that one can develop tungsten alloys that are at least as good if not better and cheaper that uranium alloys, and the first use of DU weapons during the 1991 Gulf War broke a 46 years long taboo against the intentional use or induction of radioactivity in combat.

The paper that André Gsponer, Jean-Pierre, and Bruno Vitale contributed to the Fourth International Conference of the Yugoslav Nuclear Society, Belgrade, Sep.30 - Oct.4, 2002, is therefore of great interest since it sheds a new light on the DU issue in relation to the evolution of modern warfare.

This paper reports on a surprising discovery: While the radioactivity of DU is low, its large scale use (as in Iraq and former Yugoslavia) creates a residual radioactive environment that can be compared to the use of a large number of new type (so-called "fourth-generation") nuclear weapons which are currently under development worldwide (see www.smh.com.au/articles/2002/09/06/1031115939075.html , http://nuketesting.enviroweb.org/hew/News/AnnounceReviews.html ). These weapons would produce much less radioactivity than existing types of nuclear weapons, so that many of them could be used until they produce a total radioactive burden comparable to the expenditure of large amounts of DU.

More precisely, quoting from the abstract of the paper: "... the radiological burden due to the battlefield use of circa 400 tons of DU munitions in Iraq (and of about 40 tons in Yugoslavia) is comparable to that arising from the hypothetical battlefield use of more than 600 kt (respectively 60 kt) of high-explosive equivalent pure-fusion fourth-generation nuclear weapons."

By comparison, the explosive yield of the Hiroshima bomb was about 12 to 15 kt. However, what is even more striking, is that "in order to match the radiological burden due to the combat use of DU in these countries, one could have hypothetically used several thousands precision guided delivery systems, each carrying a fourth-generation nuclear warhead with a yield in range of one to hundred TONS of high-explosive equivalent, instead of the few tens or hundreds of KILOGRAMS of high-explosives currently delivered by these systems"

Since the report is a long technical paper written by physicists for other physicists, most readers may not want to download it except for reading the introduction and the conclusion. It is therefore worthwhile to quote a paragraph from the extended abstract:

"From a strategic perspective, the breaking of the taboo against the intentional battlefield use of radioactive materials, which lasted from 1945 to 1991, can therefore be interpreted as a preparation for the progressive introduction of fourth-generation nuclear weapons whose battlefield use will cause a low (but non-negligible) residual radioactive environment. It can therefore be argued that besides its military function, the use of depleted-uranium in Iraq and Yugoslavia may have served a political purpose: to soften the opposition of the Western public opinion to the induction of radioactivity on the battlefield, and to get the World population accustomed to the combat use of depleted-uranium and fourth-generation nuclear weapons."

In summary, while the authors agree that the radioactivity of depleted uranium is low, their technical analysis gives a lot of weight to the common sense intuition that the battlefield use of DU munitions is a dangerous legal precedent, and therefore a major step towards the combat use of nuclear weapons.

http://arXiv.org/abs/physics/0210071

Another paper written by André Gsponer, entitled Nanotechnology and fourth-generation nuclear weapons:, (available at http://www.acronym.org.uk/dd/dd67/67op1.htm) is of interest to anti-DU activists also, where he discusses DU and the political consequence of its use in recent war. "....the use of weapons producing a low level of radioactivity appears to be acceptable, both from a military point of view because such a level does not impair further military action, and from a political standpoint because most political leaders, and shapers of public opinion, did not object to the battlefield use of depleted uranium. These lessons imply a probable military perception of the need for new conventional or nuclear warheads, and a probable political acceptance of such warheads if they do not produce large amounts of residual radioactivity."

The paper also stresses the dangerous legal precedent established by use of DU in combat.

Prof. Andre A. Gsponer, ISRI, P.O. Box 30, CH-1211 GENEVA-12, Switzerland, email: gsponer@vtx.ch

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DU Whistleblower wins settlement

Clint Jensen, an DU worker at the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory (INEEL), took his employer, Bechtel, to court for retaliating against him after he raised concerns about dangerous working conditions and sick co-workers suffering Gulf War Syndrome-like symptoms. The parties came to an agreement to end the lawsuit, midway through, in Jensen's favour.

Jensen worked as a Manufacturing Operator at INEEL Specific Manufacturing Capability (SMC), a classified program which fabricates depleted uranium for lining in the US Army's Abrams battle tanks. Bechtel failed to implement many basic safety and industrial hygiene precautions for employees working around DU. Mr. Jensen's job included incinerating uranium chips and cutting and boring sheets of uranium metal. The incinerator was home-made and every night he had to mop around the oven to remove a black film encircling the oven caused by the leakage during burns.

Mr. Jensen began asking questions of his employer about the premature death of two of his co-workers and why others had left the workplace with symptoms similar to his. He raised concerns that he was exposed to DU and other substances at work that may have caused his own Gulf War Syndrome-like symptoms. He suggested that the Industrial Hygiene program was deficient, that he had been ordered to burn substances other than DU in the oxidation oven _ in violation of the oven's permit, and that his uranium exposure levels soared after he looked down to find himself standing in DU-laden water. He asked the INEEL's medical staff to get to the root of the problem.

Rather than investigating these concerns or compensating him for his illness, Bechtel attempted to silence him and keep him out of the workplace by referring him to psychiatrists numerous times; increasing his security clearance _ effectively gagging him from speaking with his personal physicians about his occupational health concerns; refusing to let him speak with a Department of Energy (DOE) official about his concerns; accusing him of abusing his short term disability and removing 270 hours of personal leave time from him; placing excessive restrictions upon him at times and denying him use of a respirator.

Since Mr. Jensen raised his concerns, DOE has conducted an extensive review of the SMC facility and found numerous significant violations. Because of Mr. Jensen's concerns, the oxidation oven was dismantled, and new safety procedures and processes have been implemented.

Tom Carpenter, with the Government Accountability Project which represented Mr. Jensen, stated, "Clint performed a valuable public service by raising important safety and health concerns which resulted in significant improvements in operations at the INEEL site. We are all very glad to put this matter behind us, and for Clint to be able to get on with his life."

More info from www.whistleblower.org

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Fire at US DU Factory

The Oakridge DU plant went into a lock-down shelter-in-place mode after a fire ignited under a uranium hood last November. A spokesperson for the plant said that there were no injuries and that no radioactive releases were detected after the fire was immediately extinguished. One worker was inside the hood at the time, and an investigation is under way to discover the cause of the fire. It is noted however, that DU which was being used in the hood can spontaneously combust.

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Kofi Annan addresses DU issue

In a message to the international community on the occasion of the International day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict, (Nov 6th 2002) UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan specifically referred to Depleted Uranium stating that it was damaging to the environment.

In his speech, Kofi Annan stated that "While environmental damage is a common consequence of war, it should never be a deliberate aim.although international conventions govern nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, new technologies, such as depleted uranium ammunition, threaten the environment".

The UNEP statement in relation to the International Day, concludes: "The course for the future must be charted with a deeper respect for the environment. Member States must take stock of the guidelines drawn up to protect all victims of war. It is vital that maps be prepared and kept to facilitate clean-up activities when former belligerents come to the table to talk peace. The innocent should not be made to suffer long after the weapons of war have been silenced.

For more info contact: N Nuttall, UNEP email: nick.nuttall@unep.org

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Army plans to stop DU monitoring in Indiana

Big Creek flows through Jefferson Proving Ground, SE Indiana, a former military test-firing range riddled with unexploded shells and more than 150,000 pounds of DU - an area so dangerous the Army plans to fence it off forever rather than attempt to clean it up. Residents near the site are worried about an Army plan made public in November to stop monitoring the creek and groundwater for DU contamination.

Army officials have said the pollution is relatively low — though there are some hot spots — and doesn't appear to be moving from the 1,200-acre firing range. But some residents aren't convinced it will stay that way. A group plans to seek a hearing before an NRC administrative law judge, said Richard Harris, president of Save the Valley, a southeast Indiana environmental group "We think they should monitor it longer because it's going to lay there forever," Harris said.

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Human Rights Day conference on Iraq

Manchester, October 2002.

This was an informative day for all who attended. Speakers included Camille Warren from CADU, Milan Rai from Voices in the Wilderness and journalist Felicity Arbuthnot. A lively debate was held around the issue of DU's radiological and chemical toxicity. Felicity Arbuthnot provided some valuable insights from her frequent visits to Iraq. Hospitals have very few drugs and many Iraqis are malnourished. The situation is distressing because incidences of cancer among children in Baghdad have risen five-fold since the Gulf War, probably due to DU and other toxic and/or radioactive chemicals dropped by the West.

In spite of the rebuilding that is beginning, the Iraqi people live in great fear of another war, a war which could involve weapons of mass destruction. Ms Arbuthnot stressed that the Iraqi people she spoke to DO NOT WANT a new government imposed by the USA or any other Western power. Much as they hate and fear Saddam Hussein, they do not want a puppet regime in his place. The officially recognized opposition, the Iraqi National Congress, was an umbrella opposition that tried to unite opposition Nationalists, religious parties and left-wingers to oppose Saddam Hussein. Initially the USA cooperated with the INC. But increasingly the US has pushed the left-wingers and religious parties out and started to negotiate to get an `opposition' to suit US taste. Many Iraqis feel that Saddam must go, but not at the price of a US takeover.

Why is the US so keen to attack Iraq? A possible reason is OIL. If the USA had control of Iraq as well as having its current links with Saudi Arabia, it would control 60% of the world's oil.(It is estimated that Iraq has more than 10% of the world's oil, much of it undeclared and untapped). Iraqi oil is cheap and easy to extract: so cheap that drinking water in Iraq costs 15 times as much as oil. Control of Iraq would also enable the US to isolate Iran and Syria, by surrounding them with US allies.

We must oppose this war if the Iraqi people are not to see their country destroyed yet again.

Jo Monk

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Afghanistan: The Nuclear Nightmare Starts

When questions were asked in the British Parliament a year ago about whether DU weapons had been used in the military strikes on Afghanistan, defence minister Geoff Hoon played his cards close to his chest. "No British forces currently engaged in operations around Afghanistan are armed with depleted uranium ammunition. However, we do not rule out the use of depleted uranium ammunition in Afghanistan, should its penetrative capability be judged necessary in the future."

He did not rule out the use of DU by the United States.

When the Afghan crisis began, many of us believed that a great amount of DU/dirty uranium would be used to achieve the US-British campaign objectives, both to penetrate the opposition's hideouts in rocky terrain and to test new weapons systems (see CADU News 9 for Dai Williams research or see his website at www.eoslifework.co.uk. )

Startling report

A new report based on research in Afghanistan indicates that our worst fears have been realized. The study, produced by the Uranium Medical Research Centre (UMRC), points to the likelihood of large numbers of the population being exposed to uranium dust and debris.

Dr. Asaf Durakovic, a professor of nuclear medicine and radiology and a former science adviser to the US military, who set up the independent UMRC, has been testing US, British, and Canadian troops and civilians for DU and uranium poisoning over the past few years.

A scientific study team was sent to Jalalabad region, Nangarhar Province in Afghanistan in the aftermath of the conflict in 2001-02. This area was a strategic target zone for operation Enduring Freedom high and low altitude, precision guided-bombing and first time deployment of bunker busting and seismic shock warheads.

The UMRC field team identified several hundred people suffering from illnesses and medical conditions displaying complex clinical symptoms similar to those of Gulf War Veterans. Urine and soil samples were collected and sent to an independent science research lab in the UK. The results were astounding. Every person donating urine specimens tested positive for Uranium internal contamination, with concentrations of toxic and radioactive uranium isotopes between 100 and 400 times greater than in tests on Gulf War veterans in 1999.

The study was extended in September when a second team returned, this time to Kabul, Mazar-I-Sharif, Tora Bora, Kndahar and Jalalabad. Samples were taken from bomb craters, market squares, gardens, farms, watercourses etc adjacent to bombed targets. 30% of the members of families interviewed displayed medical problems, and examinations of new-borns showed congenital effects of contamination.

Appeal

The results of study will be distributed to the governments of Afghanistan, NATO countries and the United Nations. However, it costs $1000 to test each sample due to the specialised equipment required, and UMRC need to raise this amount for 40 samples from this second study. To find out more and to help with finances, contact info@UMRC.net, or look at website www.UMRC.net.

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CADU Appeal

Yet again we find ourselves appealing to our supporters for financial help. Our funding for our worker, Camille, runs out in March. We are of course applying once again to major grant-giving organisations, but we expect there to be a short-fall.

Since Camille has arrived, we have found that we have been able to be much more effective in our campaigning. We have undertaken major projects, such as the publishing of the book (see inside), updating and reprinting the briefing pack (out soon) and a massive overhaul of the website, (see below).

With the war on Iraq looking increasingly likely, we are receiving more requests for information, and obviously have to expand our efforts (if that were possible) to ensure that DU is not used again in Iraq. We are still campaigning for a resolution to the humanitarian disaster caused by the last war, and who knows what additional nightmares are going to befall these innocent victims.

We would like to take this opportunity to wish all our supporters a very peaceful New Year (as unlikely as it seems), and thank you all for your continued efforts.

Even if you cannot afford any extra money, there are other ways you can help. You can encourage your friends to become subscribers to CADU News, join us in London on February 15th, write (again!) to your MP and to Geoff Hoon on the issue of depleted uranium, start thinking about the day of action against depleted uranium in May, and what you could do.

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Forthcoming DU Book

CADU is helping to publish a book on depleted uranium that will be ready by March. Written by Prof Bruno Vitale, Anne Gut and with a postscript by Prof. Andre Gsponer it will gather the lastest political, scientific and legal information relating to DU into one source. We are hoping for a large distribution and will be selling the book at a low cover price to ensure this. If you have any ideas for distribution please do contact the CADU office.

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U.S. Navy uses DU in coast waters; activists may go to court

The Navy routinely tests DU weapons in prime fishing areas off the coast of Washington, raising concerns from scientists, fishermen and activists. The Navy insists the use of depleted uranium off the coast is "routine" and poses no threat to the environment or to service personnel. But a coalition of Northwest environmental and anti-war activists say they are considering seeking an injunction to halt the tests.

"The Navy is willing to put us all at risk, including its own sailors, to improve its war-fighting capabilities," said Glen Milner, of Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, one of the groups weighing a suit to stop the Navy tests. Milner received information on the Navy's tests of depleted uranium ammunition off the coast in a memo released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

No major studies apparently have been done on the effects of such weapons in the ocean. But Milner says, "It just makes sense that if DU can contaminate land and get into the food chain, then it would do the same thing in the sea."

The weapon in question is the Phalanx, which is also known as a Close In Weapons System. Such a system is on virtually all U.S. Navy combat ships. It includes radar and rapid-fire 20mm guns. The guns are capable of firing up to 3,000 or 4,500 rounds per minute of DU.

Robert Alverson, president of the Fishing Vessel Owners Association in Seattle, said he was "very troubled" to hear that the Navy was using DU off the coast of Washington. The areas used for testing are designated Navy Warning Areas and are prime fishing areas "It is folly to be testing anything in this area that might contaminate the natural food supply. If any species ever turns up with radiation, it would be devastating to the fishing industry," Alverson said.

Leonard Dietz, a research associate with the private, non-profit Uranium Medical Research Centre in Canada and the United States, said that the degree of environmental contamination the DU rounds will cause in sea water depends on what kinds of targets were hit and how much DU was fired. "Corrosion of the DU by sea water would occur over a long time," said Dietz. "The end result is that the ocean becomes a dumping ground for the spent DU penetrators and they add to the (natural) uranium content of sea water," he said.

More info from Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action: www.gzcenter.org

SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER

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Page last updated: 11th April 2003