Campaign Against Depleted Uranium

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CADU NEWS 17
Spring 2004

Contents
MoD Forced to Pay Pension for DU Contamination
New Campaigning and Information Pack Available from CADU
WHO Scientists’ Report into DU Cancer Dangers Suppressed
Gulf War Vets Babies 50% more likely to have Birth Defects
MoD Issues DU Warning Card to Troops
Scottish Anger at DU Contamination
Political Heat Rises in the US as Soldiers Test Positive for DU
Dutch Troops Moved Belatedly from Same Contaminated Area
Iraqis at Risk of DU Contaminated Scrap Metal
US Miltary Searching for Replacement to DU
Gulf War Syndrome Legal Case Collapses
Alliant Techsytems Gets New DU Order
Isotope Analysis Shows Exposure To Depleted Uranium In Gulf War Veterans
DU in Sardinia
Japanese Hostage was Anti-DU Campaigner
DU Protests in Warwickshire
EC to probe DU pollution
New Reports on DU
'Friendly Fire' Newsletter 1 ICBUW
Plans to Dump Low Level Radioactive Waste in Landfills

Child Victims of War

MoD Forced to Pay Pension for DU Contamination

A former soldier has become the first veteran to win a war pension appeal after suffering depleted uranium poisoning during the Gulf War, it has emerged.Kenny Duncan took the Ministry of Defence to the Pensions Appeal Tribunal Service over his claim that he suffered depleted uranium poisoning during active service in Iraq.

The father of three, from Clackmannanshire, served with the Royal Corps of Transport as a specialist tank transporter during the first Gulf War in 1991.Part of his job was to move Iraqi tanks destroyed by depleted uranium shells. Mr Duncan's case relied on blood tests carried out by Dr Albrecht Schott, a German biochemist, which revealed chromosome aberrations caused by ionising radiation. The tribunal found that Mr Duncan’s exposure to the uranium was attributable to his service in the Gulf.

Dr Schott's research formed part of a study of 16 British veterans of conflicts in the Gulf, Bosnia, and Kosovo, which found that they had 14 times the usual level of chromosome abnormalities in their genes, raising fears that they will pass cancers and genetic illnesses to their offspring. Kenny Duncan believes that his children's health problems are linked to his service in the Gulf war. All three were born with deformed toes and low immune systems.

When he retired from the army in 1993, due to ill health, Duncan received only a half-pension. The PATS decision means that his pension will now be reassessed. Duncan said: “It is just a huge relief to have someone in authority say that you have been poisoned by this stuff and that you are not telling lies. It is now time for the [defence ministry] to tell us what went wrong... I doubt that I will benefit much financially from this, but it wasn't about the money, it was about the principle of the thing.”

His wife Mandy said: 'It's scandalous that while we are suffering with the
consequences of what the Government has done, politicians are just thinking about money.'

New Campaigning and Information Pack Available from CADU

A new campaigning pack and information pack will soon be available from CADU. The pack has a comprehensive information
section about DU weapons, petitions,
campaigning postcards, and advice on how
to take effective action against DU.

To put in an order contact the CADU office. Affiliates to CADU will be able to order the pack at the specially discounted rates of
£2.50 (+50p P+P)

WHO Scientists’ Report into DU Cancer Dangers
Suppressed

An expert report by three leading radiation scientists cautioned that children and
adults could contract cancer after breathing in dust containing DU. But it was blocked from publication by the World Health Organisation (WHO), which employed the main author, Dr Keith Baverstock, as a senior radiation advisor. He alleges that it was deliberately suppressed. Baverstock also believes that if the study had been published when it was completed in 2001, there would have been more pressure on the US and UK to limit their use of DU weapons in last year’s war, and to clean up afterwards. “Our study suggests that the widespread use of depleted uranium weapons in Iraq could pose a unique health hazard to the civilian population,” Baverstock told the Scottish Sunday Herald. “There is increasing scientific evidence the radioactivity and the chemical toxicity of DU could cause more damage to human cells than is assumed.”

Baverstock was the WHO’s top expert on radiation and health for 11 years
until he retired in May last year. While he was a member of staff, WHO refused to give him permission to publish the study, which was co-authored by Professor Carmel Mothersill from McMaster University in Canada and Dr Mike Thorne, a radiation consultant . Baverstock suspects that WHO was leaned on by a more powerful pro-nuclear UN body, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). “I believe our study was censored and suppressed by the WHO because they didn’t like its conclusions. Previous experience suggests that WHO officials were bowing to pressure from the IAEA, whose remit is to promote nuclear power,” he said.

Gulf War Vets Babies 50% more likely to have Birth Defects

A major Ministry of Defence-funded survey study from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine has found that babies whose fathers served in the first Gulf war are 50 per cent more likely to have physical abnormalities. They also found a 40 per cent increased risk of miscarriage among women whose partners served in the Gulf.

Increased risks of genital, urinary and renal abnormalities and deformed limbs, bones and muscles were found in the Ministry of Defence-funded survey. Of 13,191 pregnancies among the partners of male Gulf veterans, 686, or 5.2 per cent, had some form of physical abnormality, compared with 342, or 3.5 per cent, of the 9,758 non-Gulf pregnancies.

The survey didn’t find increased risks of other types of birth defects nor stillbirths among veteran pregnancies. Female veterans were also found to be at no greater risk of miscarriage.

The MoD have been hawking this study as the definitive study into pregnancy outcomes among veterans for some time so it was difficult for them to downplay it. Although they still tried: An MoD spokesman said: “It is important to note the researchers have cautioned that the findings may be susceptible to recall bias, and that it is a comparison with a control group in which miscarriage may have been under-reported.” Extensive recall bias in remembering your own children’s birth deformities seems a little far-fetched!

Similar evidence was found in US research from a Veterans Administration study, published within the last year, that shows children of Gulf War vets have twice the normal rate of birth defects. A US study released this month shows women who served in the first Gulf War suffered three times the normal rate of miscarriages in the period just after the conflict.

MoD Issues DU Warning Card to Troops

The MoD has issued a card to all troops serving in Iraq in areas where DU has been used. The card reads:

[front]“DU Information Card
(introduced 03.03) F Med 1018

You have been deployed to a theatre where Depleted Uranium (DU) munitions have been used.

DU is a weakly radioactive heavy metal, whch has the potential to cause ill health.

You may have been exposed to dust containing DU during your deployment.

[back]Further Information

You are eligible for a urine test to measure uranium. If you wish to know more about having this test, you should consult your unit medical officer on return to your home base.

Your medical officer can provie information about the health effects of DU.

Information is also available on the MOD [Ministry of Defense] web site: www.uk/issues/depleted_uranium/index.htm”

It is good to see the MoD deviating from their normal line that DU poses no health risks and taking some responsibility towards serving soldiers, if only to cover their own backs. Yet the card raises many questions: Why is DU still being used if they know it to be a danger? What about Iraqi citizens, who are not being issued with cards nor offered tests? Why aren’t all troops given inexpensive urine tests considering many won’t know the risks? The British military is definitely increasingly being caught on the back foot about its use of DU weapons.

Scottish Anger at DU Contamination

DU is still contaminating the military firing range near Kirkcudbright in the south of Scotland, according to an unpublished MoD survey, reports the Sunday Herald (11 April 2004). Since 1982 over 90 shells have been misfired or have malfunctioned and scattered fragments of DU across the ground. Despite searches, some of the fragments have never been recovered.

“Higher levels of contamination have sometimes been found at points where
malfunctioning DU rounds or fragments landed on the range, but this has been removed when MoD clean-up levels were exceeded,” the report states. Other areas were less contaminated, but fenced off “as a matter of good practice”. But, the report adds: “Some projectiles and fragments have not been recovered... There are also a small number of areas where it would be advantageous to carry out further intrusive investigations to investigate some apparently anomalous monitoring results.”

Local concern about the risks was highlighted when peace activists took to the streets to hand out cards that are deliberately designed to mimic those handed to troops in Iraq. “The focus of our action on April 16 is to highlight the hypocrisy of the MoD issuing warning cards to our troops, but not to the civilians they supposedly protect”.

Political Heat Rises in the US as Soldiers Test Positive for DU

Four soldiers in the US have tested positive for DU, leading to hundreds of troops referring themselves for tests and political questions being asked about troop safety and testing.

After the recent news that British troops had tested positive for DU (see CADU News 16) a newspaper in the US paid to have 9 soldiers who had been staying in a contaminated area tested for DU and were experiencing unexplained ill-health. Four of the nine, three of whom were Puerto Rican, tested positive in tests carried out by Dr. Asaf Durakovic, of the Uranium Medical Research Center. The army said that only three soldiers of a 1000 tested had returned positive results, causing doubts about the accuracy of their tests. The soldiers had repeatedly tried and failed to get DU tests through the army.

The soldiers were from the New York National Guard and had been staying in Samawah, the scene of previous heavy fighting. “There’d been a lot of fighting in Samawah before we got there,” said Staff Sgt. Ray Ramos, one of the soldiers who tested positive. “The place was dusty as hell, and the sandstorms were hitting us pretty good.” He said, “I got sick instantly in June. My health kept going downhill with daily headaches, constant numbness in my hands and rashes on my stomach.”

Since then up to 800 G.I.s have handed in their 24-hour urine samples, and hundreds more are waiting for appointments. But several independent uranium experts who reviewed one of the first official lab results that military doctors provided to a soldier last week are questioning whether the Army’s testing methods are adequate. “They are using an instrument that apparently isn’t very accurate,” said Glen Lawrence, a professor of biochemistry at Long Island University. “The instruments they used are just not sophisticated enough to give accurate readings,” agreed Leonard Dietz, who invented one of the instruments for measuring uranium isotopes.

Sen.Hillary Clinton took up the issue with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard Myers at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Myers vowed to upgrade uranium tests for G.I.s and to shake up the system to improve the screening and tracking of troops who may have been exposed to uranium dust in the Iraq war.“We’ve got to do a first-class job for our troops,” said Gen. Richard Myers.

However in a Pentagon memo from Army Assistant Surgeon General Richard Ursone he was found to state “performance of routine screening laboratory, radiologic and electrocardiographic tests in this setting is extremely low yield and is discouraged.” Even if giving those tests is “supported by evidence-based medicine, they may be deferred if the soldier is without symptoms and the laboratory tests will delay release from active duty.”

Dutch Troops Moved Belatedly from Same
Contaminated Area

When Dutch troops arrived in the same army base in Samawah that the DU contaminated US soldiers had been staying in, they measured unacceptably high levels of radioactivity. Sgt. Juan Vega, senior medic with the US 442nd, told the New York-based Daily News “the Dutch swept the area around the train depot with Geiger counters and their medics confided to [me] they had found high radiation levels”. The Dutch were ordered instead to pitch camp in the desert. Yet troop transfer from the area was delayed by three weeks, while the new camp was under construction leading to unnecessary exposure to DU for Dutch troops.

Iraqis at Risk of DU Contaminated Scrap Metal

Man recovering parts from destroyed Iraqi Tanks

Numerous eyewitness reports from respected sources have arrived saying that tanks and armoured vehicles hit by DU ammunition are being smelted down in Iraq. The contaminated metal is being recycled in a huge smelting facility near Basra, in southern Iraq, under the auspices of the British Army and being turned into prefabricated bridges, litter bins and even pots and pans according to the Independent Newspaper correspondent Robert Fisk. Children have also been reported collecting parts from the tanks to raise extra money for their families. This practice obviously puts Iraqis at risk both while collecting the metal and using any objects it is turned into.

Professor Malcolm Hooper, Emeritus Professor at the University of Sunderland and a Government Advisor on Gulf War illnesses says: “Taiwan springs to mind, where radioactive material was used in building structures and deaths and illnesses were so great, they had to be demolished. I would be very unhappy about using these materials, it would be a disaster for workers, a disaster for those living in the vicinity and it would be a real toxic brew also containing mercury, cadmium and numerous other lethal pollutants.”

If the UK and US militaries had cleaned up all risk areas and removed all destroyed vehicles this could have been avoided. The British Government claimed that it was putting up safety signs to keep locals away although observers in Iraq say this has often not been the case. Jo Wilding, who is currently in Iraq running a circus for Iraqi street children said, “There is a huge tank cemetery near Daura where all the burnt-out military hardware has been dumped, and there are children working there, cutting pieces off the tanks for a small amount of money, and there are no warnings at all. I asked one of the boys if he’d been told anything at all about the dangers, and he said some British journalists told him it might be dangerous, but he had no other source.”

In response to a Parliamentary question Adam Ingram, Minister of State for the Armed Forces, replied: “There is no known legitimate operational smelting plant in the Basra region. A small number of illegal mobile smelting plants used for smuggled copper and aluminium have been found and closed down. There is no evidence they had been used to smelt tanks. Military vehicles known to have been hit by DU munitions within the southern sector of Iraq controlled by the British military have been clearly marked. Arrangements are currently being negotiated with the US for a contractor to collect and store these military vehicles.

US Miltary Searching for Replacement to DU


It would appear the US Department of Defense is not as confident about its use of DU in weapons as it likes to imply. According to a company, Liquidmetal Technologies, it is working hard with them to develop a replacement for DU. The company’s website (www.liquidmetal.com) claims:

“Awarded a series of multi-year, multi-million dollar contracts by the Department of Defense, Liquidmetal alloys’ technology is currently being developed for use as a Kinetic Energy Penetrator (KEP) rod. The KEP, the key component of the highly effective armor piercing ammunition system, currently utilizes Depleted Uranium (DU) because of its density and self-sharpening behavior. Ballistic tests conducted by the Army have proven that the Liquidmetal® tungsten composite KEP exhibits self-sharpening similar to the DU KEP. As a result, the Department of Defense is working closely with Liquidmetal Technologies to develop a new class of effective and environmentally benign KEP rods.” (Emphasis added)

The US military has always been particularly belligerent about its use of DU weapons but it seems activist pressure is getting to them too!

Gulf War Syndrome Legal Case Collapses

An eight-year, multimillion pound legal battle by more than 2,000 veterans for compensation for Gulf War Syndrome has collapsed after legal aid was withdrawn. This does not mean that the veterans were not sick but rather that a specific cause would have to be proved. To succeed in their claim against the MoD the veterans would have to produce scientific evidence not only that their illness was caused by their service in the 1991 Gulf war, but also that the MoD had been negligent. In a reversal of pension awards the burden of proof would be on them as claimants to prove their case.

In the face of the collapse there has been a growing call from top QCs and politicians for an independent inquiry into the illnesses suffered by veterans. Lord Morris of Manchester said he would deliver a letter to the prime minister calling for an inquiry and ex gratia payments to veterans. The collapse of the legal battle means that “the government can no longer pass the buck to the courts”, said Mr Paul Tyler, MP. “The fact that the legal case has petered out in no way implies that the illnesses have petered out - far from it.”

Alliant Techsytems Gets New DU Order

Nukewatch, in the States, reports that Alliant Techsystems, outside Minneapolis, Minnesota, the nation’s biggest assembler of uranium munitions, announced this week that it was awarded new contracts for 120-millimetre battle tank ammunition for the M1A1 main battle tanks. The contract is worth $38 million. As Alliant has removed all references to uranium or depleted uranium in its public notices, web pages and press releases, it can only be inferred at this point that the newest contracts are for uranium weapons. The tanks have always used DU ammunition in the past. [see: www.nukewatch.com]

Isotope Analysis Shows Exposure To Depleted Uranium In Gulf War Veterans

U.S. Veterans who were exposed to DU during the 1991 Gulf War have continued to excrete it in their urine for 6-8 years after their exposure, according to a new study published in the journal Health Physics. The study indicates that soldiers may absorb DU uranium particles through inhalation, ingestion, or wound contamination, said Roberto Gwiazda, lead author of the study. Using isotope analysis of urine, similar to new tests available in the UK, it was revealing that DU was present in the urine of a significant number of soldiers without embedded shrapnel but with potential exposure through inhalation, ingestion, or wound contamination.

DU in Sardinia

Activists in Sardinia, Italy, have called for an immediate halt to all DU testing at the Salto di Quirra test range and the U.S. military base of La Maddalena following what they describe as “a series of anomalies”. They claim there are higher than average rates of cancer and birth deformities in the area and that the military activity is causing “irreversible damage to the image of our island and a risk to the already fragile economy”.

Protests have also followed the death of Sardinian Corporal Major Valery Melis of Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Melis served as a Peacekeeper in Bosnia and Macedonia. The army consistently denied him care and medical costs up to his death. More than 20 men are thought to have died from illnesses linked to their service in the Balkans, where DU was used in the 1990s.

Japanese Hostage was Anti-DU Campaigner

One of the 3 Japanese hostages, kidnapped in Iraq in dramatic fashion in April, was there because of his anger at the US/UK use of DU weapons. Noriaki Imai, 18, had gone to investigate their effects in Iraq. Japanese DU activists worked tirelessly for his release launching an international campaign to explain the hostages good intentions and antiwar stance.

DU Protests in Warwickshire

The protesters staged a demonstration outside DM Kineton arms depot protesting against the storage of weapons containing DU - which could lead to widespread radioactive contamination if there was a serious accident or terrorist attack.
Long Itchington resident Richard Williams was part of the 15-strong group, who called themselves the Warwickshire Weapons Inspectors. He said: “We succeeded in getting our message across, but we didn’t have any joy in our attempts to get into the base itself.

“We want people to be aware of what is really going on here. These weapons could cause a major contamination of this densely-populated region if there was an accident. This could lead to mass evacuation, and the sealing-off of a large area of the Midlands for decades, even centuries - as has happened in Chernobyl.”

EC to probe DU pollution

SNP Shadow Minister for Europe Neil MacCormick MEP raised concerns in the European Parliament last month and the commission have now agreed to look into possible pollution stemming from the firing from Dundrennan range.

The MEP had claimed in the European Parliament that depleted uranium shells littering the seabed in the Solway Firth breach international law. He said that dumping low-level radioactive waste in the sea was illegal, even if there was no conclusive evidence that it is harmful.

New Reports on DU

Investigations of environmental impacts from the deployment of depleted uranium munitions
by Dr. Hari Sharma - Examination of environmental DU contamination in air and soil through analysis of residents’ tissue of Basra, Iraq.
Available from the Military Toxics Project at:
tara@miltoxproj.org.
Audio reports from the recent MIT seminar “Depleted Uranium Weapons: Toxic Contaminant or Necessary Technology?” can be downloaded at:
http://web.mit.edu/tac/www/recentforums.html

'Friendly Fire' Newsletter 1 ICBUW

The first edition of the newletter of the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons is now available online prior to the next meeting of the coalition in Brussels in May. Full of original material ‘Friendly Fire’ can be found at: www.bandepleteduranium.org

Plans to Dump Low Level Radioactive Waste in Landfills

The government is examining plans to relax safety limits to allow low-level radioactive waste from civil and military nuclear plants to be dumped in landfill sites around the country.Contaminated metal and other materials from reactors and related facilities could also be recycled into household products, such as food containers and furniture. Radioactive rubble could be used to build roads, or used in other major construction projects.

Materials contaminated by twice today’s legal limit of plutonium and up to 250 times today’s legal limit of radioactive tritium could be disposed of along with ordinary rubbish, or reused in consumer goods.

ACTION: Please contact Defra and the Government to tell them this is unacceptable, - before it’s too late.

Child Victims of War

Child Victims of War is raising money to have the urine of Iraqi children tested for DU. To find out more contact them at:
17 Anstey Street, Easton,
Bristol, BS5 6DG, UK
or on Tel: 44 (0)20 8567 4237/ (0)117 902 6534.
www.childvictimsofwar.org
info@childvictimsofwar.org

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