Campaign Against Depleted Uranium

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Summer 2003

- The Contamination Continues- No Clean up in Iraq
- A Missed Opportunity
- Questions in Parliament
- Secrecy and Lies
- Are People Sick Already?
- Uranium Yellowcake Contamination
- Bigger and Better - The Second International Day of Action Against Depleted Uranium Goes with a Bang
- The Testing Scandal - Accurate Testing for All Returning Troops?
- Levels of Radioactivity in Iraq
- Birth Deformities in Gulf War Vet's Kids
- Damacio Lopez in Manchester
- Safe Alternative to DU?
- A-Bomb Survivors Speak Out Against DU
- Iraqi Scientists Visit Japan
- Gulf War Illness an 'Official Myth'
- Conference in New York on the Health Effects of DU
- Government to Pay to Study Clean Up of Nuclear Mess
- Convoys of DU Weapons On British Roads
- New 'Supergun' to be tested at Dundrennan on US's Behalf
- New Organisation: World Committee on Radiation Risk (WCRR)


The Contamination Continues-
No Clean up in Iraq

Despite the international calls by the United Nations for immediate clean-up in Iraq that were made at the time of the recent attack, neither Britain nor the US has made any attempts at decontamination. In the continuing chaos of Iraq where lack of water, food, security and medical supplies is the daily reality, DU decontamination is slipping off the political and media agenda while countless Iraqis are undergoing unnecessary exposure. According to the BBC, "The United States has said it has no plans to remove the debris left over from the depleted uranium weapons it is using in Iraq. It says no clean-up is needed, because research shows DU has no long-term effects."

A Missed Opportunity

As was made clear by the Royal Society and WHO (see CADU News 14) there are no scientific studies of the effects of DU on people close to exploding munitions or exposed just afterwards and these studies should have taken place straightaway. If the US and the UK are so assured of the safety of DU why did they not take the opportunity to gain accurate information? The Royal Society said in its report on the health effects of DU weapons that death could result in days from kidney damage at high exposure levels. This means many Iraqis could have died already without anyone knowing. The Government wants to be able to keep making the claim that DU has not been linked to effects on health by not looking for any links.

Meanwhile many reporters in Iraq have reported seeing people unknowingly selling food next to burnt out tanks and children playing around DU-bombed buildings and vehicles. Many children, with schooling finished by the war, have started dismantling ordnance for scrap metal risking certain exposure. Very few warning signs have been erected or areas cordoned off, a basic necessity agreed on by all sides, and where signs have been made they have been hastily handwritten by Coalition troops in English.

Questions in Parliament

Many CADU campaigners have been writing letters to their MPs and the MoD demanding action over DU. This has resulted in many questions being asked in both British Houses of Parliament. After the use of DU in the Balkans it took NATO four years to reveal that it used DU there and some sites where the munitions were used have still not been disclosed. The British Government seems to have taken some of these criticisms on board and has revealed that "A total weight of around 1.92 tonnes of depleted uranium ammunition has been fired in Iraq by United Kingdom forces since the start of recent hostilities." They have also said that the location of where the weapons were used will be available to UNEP.

On the 20th May Lord Bach was asked in the House of Lords, "considering the growing concern about the toxicity of depleted uranium, the fact that the long-term effects of that toxicity on civilian populations have so far not been properly examined and the fact that we have a duty to stop any civilian deaths as a result of any action that we have undertaken, can the Minister say how much money has been put aside for decontamination of any depleted uranium used by British forces in Iraq?" Lord Bach replied, "My Lords, I am not in a position to give the noble Lord a sum. But we take our responsibilities seriously. Our responsibilities are really to civil power at present. We will have to behave reasonably, and we are determined to do so, to ensure that any possible consequences are lessened." Inadequate though this is, this subtle admission by the British Government that it does have a responsibility to clean-up DU should be seized upon by campaigners to pressurise the Government to act on decontamination in Iraq.

Secrecy and Lies

The United States though has not been so forthcoming. They have not revealed how much DU has been used by their forces in Iraq nor whereabouts it was used. They have revealed only that 75 tonnes were used by their A-10 planes but not by other weapons systems such as tanks. British disclosure of amounts and whereabouts is useless without US cooperation since their forces used the vast majority of all DU munitions.

This information is vital to all countries with troops in Iraq to prevent exposure, but the British Government fails to grasp this saying, "Ordnance expended by US forces is a matter for the US authorities." In the Netherlands this has caused a controversy when the Dutch Government told its parliament that the US Government had said that the area where Dutch troops had been sent, Al Muthanna, had had no significant fighting or DU usage. This was quickly exposed as a lie as the province had in fact been a strategic location between Basra and Baghdad. Having misled its own parliament, and perhaps having let itself be misled by the US (the information was publicly available) the Dutch Government has been accused of "failing to allow an adequate judgement on the risks of exposure to DU contamination" to be made.

Are People Sick Already?

There have already been many reports that soldiers are getting sick in Iraq. The army has described the illness as being "mysterious" and similar to "pneumonia" which goes on to attack many of the body's organs. However the American Gulf War Veterans Association (AGWVA) have accused the military of secrecy and say that more than 100 soldiers have died or become ill. Interestingly at least some of these are known to have definitely worked on 'clean up' operations prior to having become ill. The AGWVA report that the father of one of the soldiers, 20 year old Josh Neusche, was told by a doctor that "his son was suffering from a "toxin." No mention of pneumonia was made, nor was it ever reported in the medical record." The AGWVA is demanding answers saying, "It seems that whenever veterans become ill, the term "mystery illness" seems to be the first and often the only diagnosis that is ever made."

Uranium Yellowcake Contamination

The US military failed to provide protection at Tuwaitha nuclear facility near Baghdad allowing looters to steal barrels containing uranium yellowcake. The yellowcake was emptied out and the barrels in many houses are being used to store water and food. Frightening levels of radioactivity have now been recorded in the area. Greenpeace has started a barrel swap scheme since the US military was only offering $3 a returned barrel while a new barrel costs $15. The UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has demanded urgent access to study the contamination saying "We have a moral responsibility to establish the facts without delay and take urgent remedial action." Dr Chris Busby, a low level radiation expert, points out that the US may have allowed the uranium looting to take place to cover up the effects of its own use of radioactive uranium weapons.

Bigger and Better - The Second International Day of Action Against Depleted Uranium Goes with a Bang

The Second International Day of Action took place on 29th May 2003 and had a fantastic response. Actions took place all over the world and dwarfed last year's event, which shows the growing concern over the use of depleted uranium. Below is a selection of reports received by CADU to give an idea of the international flavour of the day.

In Tuscon, Arizona, USA, the day was marked in 18' chalk letters that give a warning to Tucson's A-10 pilots. As dawn broke in Tucson Thursday morning, May 29, pilots approaching Davis-Monthan AFB could see broad strokes of white gypsum, marking letters in the brown Sonoran soil. Near the north end of the runway, the ecological graffiti reads:
A-10 + DU =
The A-10 combat aircraft is the major battlefield source of toxic and radioactive ammunition made from DU.

At Dundrennan DU test fire range in Scotland, there was a funeral march to the gates, with several children carrying a coffin. There were several speakers, then there was a mass die-in. Next some 'weapons inspectors' went off and wandered around the perimeter fences of the base. Around 70 people attended and Scottish TV news covered the action.

In Perth, Western Australia, leaflets were handed out at a vigil - to let people know that the day was happening.

In Nashville Tennessee, USA a group went to Congress man Jim Cooper's office. They had a petition with 40 signatures asking Mr. Cooper to support the proposed Depeted Uranium Munitions Study Act of 2003 (H.R. 1483).

Orangutan Seen In Action Against DU in Berlin! It was seen in pretty wild action in front of the subsidary of Lockheed Martin in the Europa House. It has been reported that he was throwing around flyers for the AntiNuclearPlenary Berlin as part of the day.

A Japanese group, Anti-Radiation-Exposure Campaign of Kansai, based in Osaka, had an educational meeting on DU, and the recent nuclear and military policy of US. They went to the local embassy of the US in Osaka to appeal against DU and submit protest notes to them.

More than two dozen people were arrested for trespassing at the Edina, Minnesota, USA headquarters of Alliant Techsystems, US, as they protested the company's role in producing munitions containing DU. More than 200 people held a vigil outside the company to protest the munitions.

International Physicians Against Nuclear war in Greece held a Press conference focusing on the use of DU weapons.

Science for Peace in Toronto. Canada, showed the video 'Invisible War' in support of the International Action Against DU weapons.

Information about the First International Day of Action on May 29th 2002

The Testing Scandal - Accurate Testing for All Returning Troops?

Both the British and US governments have claimed that lessons will be learned from the last Gulf War where little accurate health data was collected. When veterans subsequently became ill it was difficult for them to prove their claims without benchmark data. But the reality and the hope for accurate testing for today's soldiers is now looking unlikely.

The US Congress had passed a law stating that the military had to collect health data on troops both before and after deployment. However it was only after the Pentagon found out that campaigners were planning a full page ad showing how the Pentagon was violating this law by not screening soldier's blood that they backed down and agreed that all troops would be screened. But as campaigners who were placing the ad, have shown, this is no "victory for the troops. The Pentagon is still not admitting culpability: they clearly violated the law at the expense of soldiers' health. They have not promised to undertake the legally mandated medical exams for any troops still being deployed. And, according to Dr. John Moxley - who testified before a congressional committee on these matters - post-deployment exams will be of questionable value because the pre-deployment data is not comprehensive."

In Britain the scenario is also underhand. Readers of CADU News will remember how the Government hastily said that all troops would be tested for DU after the Royal Society made public the dangers it posed. The test, a urine analysis, that they are offering is now known to be inaccurate. The Government knows this too as they have spent three years funding an accurate test, developed at a University of Leicester laboratory. This test, however, will not be offered to troops returning from Iraq from this conflict but only for veterans from the Gulf War 12 years ago. The test that returning troops from this conflict will be offered is known to give negative results when an exposure has taken place. It has also shown itself to be unable to pick up uranium isotopes way above average levels.

Nor is the new test expensive, which leaves an important question as to why it is not being offered to troops now. As at least some DU is lost progressively over time through urine, it is important that all returning soldiers are offered accurate tests now if their true exposure levels are ever to be known.

This is a scandal that will again prevent us from ever being able to correlate DU exposure with ill health and is indicative of the British Government's record on this issue: Don't Look, Don't Find.

Levels of Radioactivity in Iraq

Scott Peterson, a writer at The Christian Science Monitor, recently went to Iraq with a Geiger counter and a photographer and recorded the levels of radioactivity that he found there at four sites. At one site a 3-foot-long DU dart from a 120 mm tank shell was found producing radiation at more than 1,300 times background levels. Another site, by some burnt out tanks, had piles of pure DU oxide dust, the most easy to inhale and hence the most dangerous. "One pile of jet-black dust yielded a digital readout of 9,839 radioactive emissions in one minute, more than 300 times average background levels registered by the Geiger counter. Another pile of dust reached 11,585 emissions in a minute." The Government always defends its use of DU by claiming it is 40% less radioactive than natural uranium. While this is true, natural uranium is spread out and normally in mineral form. It is the concentration of DU in weapons form that allows it to reach these dangerously high levels of radioactivity.

Birth Deformities in Gulf War Vet's Kids

Children of veterans of the first Gulf War are more likely to have three specific birth defects than those of soldiers who never served in the Gulf, a government study has found. Researchers found the infants born to male veterans of the 1991 war had higher rates of two types of heart valve defects. They also found a higher rate of a genital urinary defect in boys conceived after the war to Gulf War veteran mothers. In addition, Gulf War veterans' children born after the war had a certain kidney defect that was not found in Gulf War veterans' children born before the war. The researchers said they did not have enough information to link the birth defects to possible exposures to poisonous gases, pesticides and other toxic substances, which many Gulf War veterans suspect are culprits of their mysterious illnesses and their children's health problems. They also did not have access to parents' family histories and job exposures.

The study by the Department of Defense (Naval Health Research Center and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) examined birth defect data from 1989-93. The conditions found were hypospaedia, when boys born with the condition have urethra openings located in the middle or the back of the penis, tricuspid valve insufficiency, aortic valve spinosis and renal aegenisis.

Damacio Lopez in Manchester

As part of his UK tour Damacio Lopez, Executive Director of IDUST (International DU Study Team) came to Manchester at the end of July. He told us how he had come to campaigning from his home town in New Mexico. The contempt with which he was treated when he raised doubts about the testing of DU weapons close to the local school, spurred Damacio on to throw himself wholeheartedly into campaigning. In his talk three points stood out:
1. If the military arguments are considered, tungsten is no substitute for DU, Damacio claimed.
2. There are very serious problems for US serving soldiers. If they are
in the army or associated jobs, they receive generous health insurance for themselves and their families. If they leave or criticise their employers, the health insurance is in jeopardy.
3. When our supporters approached the Ministry of Defence about the clean-up of the DU contamination after the war, the replies said there was no legal obligation to carry this out. Ultimately this will prove an almost impossible task, considering the amount of DU which has been used now in Iraq. One report recently said that areas of Iraq were 'littered with empty DU shells'.

Safe Alternative to DU?

Anti-tank shells tipped with DU may be phased out if an alternative material proves its worth. The US Army is expected to award a contract this week for the manufacture of prototype ammunition incorporating a "liquid metal" alloy. The new rounds could be in service within two years. Liquidmetal Technologies, an R&D company based in Tampa, Florida, says it can get comparable performance from penetrators made of an exotic alloy of tungsten.The new contract is for a test batch of 30-millimetre ammunition of the type used by American A-10 "tank buster" aircraft, which fired some 75 tonnes of DU during the recent Iraq conflict. It must be remembered however that large stockpiles of DU weapons exist and will take years to run out.

A-Bomb Survivors Speak Out Against DU

Survivors of the 1945 U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki slammed U.S. use of depleted uranium bombs in Iraq and issued an appeal urging U.S. President George Bush to visit Hiroshima and understand their feelings. A total of 400 A-bomb victims, including those based in South Korea and Brazil, took part in the event in Hiroshima City on July 5th.

A group of Japanese peace activists has also been to Iraq to investigate possible radioactive hazards from DU weapons used by the U.S. military during the Iraq war. Group member Yuko Fujita, an assistant professor at Keio University said: "I doubt that Iraq is fabricating data because in fact there are many children suffering from leukemia in hospitals." Fujita said. "As a result of the Iraq war, the situation will be desperate in some five to 10 years."

Iraqi Scientists Visit Japan

The doctors Jawad Al Ali and Janan Ghalib Hassan spoke of the rise in cancers and birth deformities that have occured in Iraq since the last Gulf war and their belief that this is linked to DU weapons. Both said they feared that the future would be worse after the recent attack. Hassan, 47, said that in 2001, 611 babies were born with no limbs, no eyes or other birth defects, compared with 37 such cases in 1990.

Gulf War Illness an 'Official Myth'

The Medical Research Council study found "little evidence" that multiple vaccinations were the cause of Gulf veterans' illnesses and declared: "There is no unique Gulf War Syndrome." The report by the council - a government group which promotes research into all areas of medical and related science - said that symptoms were similar despite different exposures to vaccination, nerve agents, oil fire smoke and other potential hazards. It added: "In short, there is no evidence from UK or international research for a single syndrome related specifically to service in the Gulf."

Veterans are furious at having their illnesses dismissed. Charles Plumridge of the GV&FA said veterans would not be giving up the fight for pension rights and more treatment for the illness. "We will continue to fight. It is not a question of money. It is question of successive governments denying what is a fact," he said.

Conference in New York on the Health Effects of DU

On June 14th a conference was held at the New York Academy of Medicine organised by the Nuclear Policy Research Institute. Speakers represented differing points of view as the conference organisers tried to present a variety of scientific opinions for debate. All agreed however that public awareness raising and decontamination were priorites in areas where DU was used.

Dr. Helen Caldicott, President of the NPRI summed up by saying that the hazards of using the radioactive material included severe consequences for kidney function and environmental pollution. Presentations and audio recordings from the conference are available online at:

The NPRI have also produced a useful booklet summarising the medical evidence of the dangers of DU, 'Depleted Uranium: Scientific Basis for Assessing Risk.' It is availible in pdf at::

Government to Pay to Study Clean Up of Nuclear Mess

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reached an agreement with five parties responsible for contamination at the Nuclear Metals Inc. Superfund site in Concord, Mass. The U.S. Army, the US Department of Energy, Whittaker Corp., MONY Life Insurance Co. and Textron Inc. will share the cost of conducting studies to determine cleanup options. The federal parties will pay 98 percent of the expected costs, and the private parties will handle the remaining 2 percent and also will perform the studies. The expected cost of the studies is $8-10 million. The EPA added the site to its National Priority List in June 2001. Various operators have used the site as a research and metal manufacturing facility, which was licensed to possess low-level radioactive material. The current operator, Starmet Corp., formerly Nuclear Metals, manufactured depleted uranium munitions for the U.S. If the nuclear and munitions industries know that Governments will pay the costs of the pollution they create they will never have an incentive to behave more responsibly.

Convoys of DU Weapons On British Roads

Nuclear convoy watchers have spotted trucks loaded with DU weapons unused in the recent Iraq attack being transported between RAF Fairford to the weapons dump at Welford. RAF Fairford is where A-10 bomber planes, which use DU ammunition, took off from for the attack on Iraq. These transports have serious safety considerations in case of accidents and are an important issue for local councils to take up.
Contact NFLA. Email at

New 'Supergun' to be tested at Dundrennan on US's Behalf

Dundrennan, in southern Scotland, which has previously been used as a DU test fire range, is now facing the prospect of having a new 'supergun' tested there. Campaigners at the site are furious that US weapons are being tested there without any public consultation. Green MSP Chris Ballance argues, "There are grave concerns that Scotland is an experimental test site for American weapons.
"I think it is outrageous that the whole deal has been done and signed without anybody being informed of it, much less consulted about it beforehand."

New Organisation: World Committee on Radiation Risk (WCRR)
It has been clear for some time that the dangers of low-level radiation are underestimated by current risk models, leading to dangerous emission levels of radiation being set. The WCRR has been set up to combat this. Its foundation statement reads: "Low levels of ionizing radiation and the full range of the adverse effects have not been sufficiently addressed. The independent World Committee on Radiation Risk (WCRR) has been formed to focus on these issues.

The WCRR is needed because worldwide, national governments, international organizations, scientists and public and environmental health officials do not have full access to information regarding adverse effects from exposure to ionizing nuclear radiation. To date, the dominant sources of information (...) operate under political, economic, and academic constraints and their members, directly or indirectly, are connected to the nuclear arms and nuclear power industry. These existing committees have been concerned primarily with high doses and high dose-rates related to industrial and military applications. Their conclusions are based upon assumptions, many of which were accepted prior to the advances in knowledge and methodologies available today."
Contact: 202-328-0002;

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