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CADU NEWS 15
- 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
- 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
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 TomPaine.com 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
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
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
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
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
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: http://www.nuclearpolicy.org/EventArticle.cfm?EventID=5&Menu=Events
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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
Contact: 202-328-0002; email@example.com.
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