Nuclear waste tank OK’d to keep leaking for 1 year News 5 Sep 30, 2014 By NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS Associated Press SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) – A new deal allows a radioactive waste storage tank to continue leaking for more than a year before its contents are pumped out at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, the nation’s most polluted nuclear site.
The deal to pump nuclear waste tank AY-102, announced late Monday, is between the U.S. Department of Energy and the Washington State Department of Ecology. Under the deal, pumping of the double-walled tank would not begin until 2016, and it would take a year to complete.
The deal has outraged critics of Hanford, which for decades made plutonium for the nation’s nuclear weapons.
“Every day this tank leaks creates additional dangers,” said Gerry Pollet, executive director of Heart of America Northwest, a long-time Hanford watchdog group. “Federal and state laws require that leaking tanks of any toxic waste must be emptied immediately. The Energy Department should not get special dispensation just because Hanford officials failed to take action over the past three years to have equipment in place to remove the wastes or to plan to build new storage tanks.”
Plutonium production created a huge volume of nuclear waste at Hanford, and the site is now engaged in cleaning up the nation’s largest collection of nuclear waste. The most dangerous wastes are stored in 177 giant underground tanks. The sprawling site is near Richland in south-central Washington.
Several of the older single-walled tanks at Hanford have leaked. But Tank AY-102 is the only newer double-walled tank believed to be leaking. The Energy Department said the leak is between the walls of the giant tank and has not reached the environment……….http://www.wkrg.com/story/26667570/nuclear-waste-tank-okd-to-keep-leaking-for-1-year
They are visiting the state this week and conducting in-depth interviews with several residents to learn more about the lifestyles and diets of people who were living in New Mexico around the time of the atomic detonation at the Trinity Site.
The team is particularly interested in filling in gaps when it comes to Native American and Hispanic populations and any links to fallout radiation exposure and food and water contamination.
Dr. Steven Simon, the project’s lead investigator, said Monday that the information about diet and lifestyle will help his team more accurately project radiation doses from the fallout. “Using those dose estimates, we will then project an estimate of the excess cancers related to Trinity above the number that would have occurred in the absence of the test,” Simon said.
The study also takes into account already published data on the radioactive fallout from the blast.
The research team has done similar work in Nevada, the Marshall Islands and Kazakhstan………
A previous study done by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that exposure rates near the Trinity Site were thousands of times higher that currently allowed. However, that research didn’t take into account internal exposure……..http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/health/277500451.html
Quebec and Labrador First Nations draw the line against uranium By: Henry Lazenby 27 Sep 2014 TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – At a workshop on uranium development hosted by the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) on Friday, First Nations from across the region reaffirmed their opposition to uranium development on their territories and throughout Quebec.
In March 2013, the AFNQL passed a resolution inviting its members to voice their opposition to uranium development and to declare a blanket rejection of the uranium exploration and exploitation on all First Nation territories. This followed a resolution adopted by the Grand Council of the Crees in August 2012 declaring a permanent moratorium on uranium development in Cree territory.
“The exploration and exploitation of uranium constitute major and irreversible threats to our population, our territories and the resources they contain. As First Nations, we have a sacred duty to protect our territories and ensure the sustainable development of our natural resources,” Timiskaming First Nation Chief Terence McBride said.
“Our experience here today has clearly demonstrated that the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador are united in our opposition to uranium development in our territories. We strongly encourage all the First Nations and citizens in Quebec to clearly and publicly express their opposition to uranium development,” Cree Nation Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come added.
In March 2013, Quebec’s Minister of the Environment announced a moratorium on uranium exploration or mining permits until the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE) had completed hearings on the uranium industry in Quebec and provided recommendations to the Minister. The BAPE’S mandate began in May.
This week, the BAPE completed the second phase of its inquiry, during which it heard from various ministries, experts and industry representatives on a number of topics relating to uranium and its associated risks. The third phase of the BAPE hearings were scheduled to start in November, at which time members of the public would have the opportunity to make oral and written submissions to the BAPE.
Anyone wishing to make submissions must file a notice of intention, available on the BAPE website, by October 16.
Hypocrisy of U.S. Congress increasing nuclear warheads despite accidents at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP)
Congress pushes nuclear expansion despite accidents at weapons lab Caty Enders in New York theguardian.com, Tuesday 30 September 2014
Weapons watchdog says government’s position ‘increasingly hypocritical’ as US prepares to increase production of warheads in spite of safety and environmental concerns
This month, the Department of Energy released its initial findings into one of the worst American nuclear accidents since the end of the cold war. On February 14, a 52-gallon drum containing radioactive waste from nuclear weapons production exploded at a storage facility near Carlsbad, New Mexico, exposing 22 workers to radioactivity and leading to the closure of the facility. In its preliminary briefing, the DOE recommended a 7,000-point checklist that must be met in order to reopen the facility and indicated that congressional support for the plan was strong, despite a price tag that would likely run into the billions of dollars.
The closing of the facility, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), the nation’s only such repository, has caused a storage backup of radioactive materials at a time when Congress and the Department of Defense, together with New Mexico’s Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), are gearing up to dramatically increase production of nuclear weapons cores to numbers not seen since the cold war. In a report to Congress last month, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) outlined specific recommendations for a nuclear production plan under which as many as 80 explosive plutonium cores – 3.5in spheres that trigger an atomic bomb – would be created per year by 2030.
The Los Alamos proposal, which aims to increase plutonium core production at the nuclear facility thirtyfold from 2013 levels, leaves various environmental, fiscal, and political questions unanswered.
Los Alamos, which the CRS report cites as the only plausible place for the slated nuclear expansion, happens to have a staggeringly poor history of safeguarding war-grade nuclear materials. A federal study last month found the nuclear facility unprepared to respond to emergencies; environmental violations abound; and a former employee was recentlysentenced to a year in federal prison for trying to sell nuclear secrets to the Venezuelan government.
The plan, which has already been quietly adopted in broad terms by the House and Senate armed services committees as part of the 2015Defense Authorization Act, is expected to contribute an estimated $355bn for nuclear weapons development over the next decade. The spending would seem to stand in stark contrast to President Obama’s stated position on nuclear weapons…….http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/29/congress-nuclear-weapons-new-mexico-radioactivity
Doctors should explain to patients radiation risks of heart scans: American Heart Association By Sumit Passary, Tech Times | September 30 The American Heart Association (AHA) suggests that doctors should explain radiation risks and benefits of heart scans to patients before conducting the procedure.
The medical industry has witnessed a lot of improvements in the last few decades and heart scans have become a vital tool to detect and treat heart diseases in patients. However, heart scans also increased the radiation exposure on patients. The AHA has issued a statement, which suggests that patients should be aware of the radiation exposure before getting a heart scan…….
Computed tomography, or CT scan, is the most typical medical scanning process for blood vessel and heart imaging. The process involves exposure to radiation. Echocardiography, or ECG, which is the ultrasound imaging process of the heart, and cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (CMRI) does not expose patients to ionizing radiation.
The statement has been published in AHA’s journal Circulation. http://www.techtimes.com/articles/16788/20140930/doctors-should-explain-to-patients-radiation-risks-of-heart-scans-american-heart-association.htm
Japan had a dual use nuclear program. The public program was to develop and provide unlimited energy for the country. But there was also a secret component, an undeclared nuclear weapons program that would allow Japan to amass enough nuclear material and technology to become a major nuclear power on short notice.
That secret effort was hidden in a nuclear power program that by March 11, 2011– the day the earthquake and tsunami overwhelmed the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant – had amassed 70 metric tons of plutonium. Like its use of civilian nuclear power to hide a secret bomb program, Japan used peaceful space exploration as a cover for developing sophisticated nuclear weapons delivery systems.
The United States deliberately allowed Japan access to the United States’ most secret nuclear weapons facilities while it transferred tens of billions of dollars worth of American tax paid research that has allowed Japan to amass 70 tons of weapons grade plutonium since the 1980s, a National Security News Service investigation reveals. These activities repeatedly violated U.S. laws regarding controls of sensitive nuclear materials that could be diverted to weapons programs in Japan. The NSNS investigation found that the United States has known about a secret nuclear weapons program in Japan since the 1960s, according to CIA reports. Continue reading
Have the American people been told the truth about the radiation plumes from the damaged Fukushima plant and ocean contamination?
Communication problems exacerbate subject of radioactive threat
Is Fukushima to blame for West Coast defects and marine life diseases?
Monitoring the radioactive plume along the West coast of America
How Fukushima affected America and what you’re not being told Sally Painter Top Secret Writers 27 Sept 14 http://www.topsecretwriters.com/2014/09/fukushima-affected-america-youre-told/
Have the American people been told the truth about the radiation plumes from the damaged Fukushima plant and ocean contamination? The general public is suspicious and distrustful of the official line concerning the threat of radiation from the Daiichi plant disaster. This is especially worrisome since the Daiichi nuclear plant event has been rated the same Level 7 as the 1986 Soviet Union Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster. Continue reading
For Koch, this license to pollute amounts to a perverse, hidden subsidy. The cost is borne by communities in cities like Port Arthur, Texas, where a Koch-owned facility produces as much as 2 billion pounds of petrochemicals every year. In March, Koch signed a consent decree with the Department of Justice requiring it to spend more than $40 million to bring this plant into compliance with the Clean Air Act.
The toxic history of Koch Industries is not limited to physical pollution. It also extends to the company’s business practices, which have been the target of numerous federal investigations, resulting in several indictments and convictions, as well as a whole host of fines and penalties.
And in one of the great ironies of the Obama years, the president’s financial-regulatory reform seems to benefit Koch Industries. The company is expanding its high-flying trading empire precisely as Wall Street banks – facing tough new restrictions, which Koch has largely escaped – are backing away from commodities speculation.
It is often said that the Koch brothers are in the oil business. That’s true as far as it goes – but Koch Industries is not a major oil producer. Instead, the company has woven itself into every nook of the vast industrial web that transforms raw fossil fuels into usable goods. Koch-owned businesses trade, transport, refine and process fossil fuels, moving them across the world and up the value chain until they become things we forgot began with hydrocarbons: fertilizers, Lycra, the innards of our smartphones.
The company controls at least four oil refineries, six ethanol plants, a natural-gas-fired power plant and 4,000 miles of pipeline. Until recently, Koch refined roughly five percent of the oil burned in America (that percentage is down after it shuttered its 85,000-barrel-per-day refinery in North Pole, Alaska, owing, in part, to the discovery that a toxic solvent had leaked from the facility, fouling the town’s groundwater). From the fossil fuels it refines, Koch also produces billions of pounds of petrochemicals, which, in turn, become the feedstock for other Koch businesses. In a journey across Koch Industries, what enters as a barrel of West Texas Intermediate can exit as a Stainmaster carpet.
Koch’s hunger for growth is insatiable: Since 1960, the company brags, the value of Koch Industries has grown 4,200-fold, outpacing the Standard & Poor’s index by nearly 30 times. On average, Koch projects to double its revenue every six years. Koch is now a key player in the fracking boom that’s vaulting the United States past Saudi Arabia as the world’s top oil producer, even as it’s endangering America’s groundwater. In 2012, a Koch subsidiary opened a pipeline capable of carrying 250,000 barrels a day of fracked crude from South Texas to Corpus Christi, where the company owns a refinery complex, and it has announced plans to further expand its Texas pipeline operations. In a recent acquisition, Koch bought Frac-Chem, a top provider of hydraulic fracturing chemicals to drillers. Thanks to the Bush administration’s anti-regulatory agenda – which Koch Industries helped craft – Frac-Chem’s chemical cocktails, injected deep under the nation’s aquifers, are almost entirely exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act.
Koch is also long on the richest – but also the dirtiest and most carbon-polluting – oil deposits in North America: the tar sands of Alberta. The company’s Pine Bend refinery, near St. Paul, Minnesota, processes nearly a quarter of the Canadian bitumen exported to the United States – which, in turn, has created for Koch Industries a lucrative sideline in petcoke exports. Denser, dirtier and cheaper than coal, petcoke is the dregs of tar-sands refining. U.S. coal plants are largely forbidden from burning petcoke, but it can be profitably shipped to countries with lax pollution laws like Mexico and China. One of the firm’s subsidiaries, Koch Carbon, is expanding its Chicago terminal operations to receive up to 11 million tons of petcoke for global export. In June, the EPA noted the facility had violated the Clean Air Act with petcoke particulates that endanger the health of South Side residents. “We dispute that the two elevated readings” behind the EPA notice of violation “are violations of anything,” Koch’s top lawyer, Mark Holden, told Rolling Stone, insisting that Koch Carbon is a good neighbor.
Over the past dozen years, the company has quietly acquired leases for 1.1 million acres of Alberta oil fields, an area larger than Rhode Island. By some estimates, Koch’s direct holdings nearly double ExxonMobil’s and nearly triple Shell’s. In May, Koch Oil Sands Operating LLC of Calgary, Alberta, sought permits to embark on a multi-billiondollar tar-sands-extraction operation. This one site is projected to produce 22 million barrels a year – more than a full day’s supply of U.S. oil………
The Koch family’s lucrative blend of pollution, speculation, law-bending and self-righteousness stretches back to the early 20th century, when Charles’ father first entered the oil business. ……….
in the real world, Koch Industries has used its political might to beat back the very market-based mechanisms – including a cap-and-trade market for carbon pollution – needed to create the ownership rights for pollution that Charles says would improve the functioning of capitalism.
In fact, it appears the very essence of the Koch business model is to exploit breakdowns in the free market. Koch has profited precisely by dumping billions of pounds of pollutants into our waters and skies – essentially for free. It racks up enormous profits from speculative trades lacking economic value that drive up costs for consumers and create risks for our economy.
The Koch brothers get richer as the costs of what Koch destroys are foisted on the rest of us – in the form of ill health, foul water and a climate crisis that threatens life as we know it on this planet. Now nearing 80 – owning a large chunk of the Alberta tar sands and using his billions to transform the modern Republican Party into a protection racket for Koch Industries’ profits – Charles Koch is not about to see the light. Nor does the CEO of one of America’s most toxic firms have any notion of slowing down. He has made it clear that he has no retirement plans: “I’m going to ride my bicycle till I fall off.”
Obama Approves Raising Permissible Levels of Nuclear Radiation in Drinking Water. Civilian Cancer Deaths Expected to Skyrocket http://www.globalresearch.ca/obama-approves-raising-permissible-levels-of-nuclear-radiation-in-drinking-water-civilian-cancer-deaths-expected-to-skyrocket/5331224
Rollback in Nuclear Radiation Cleanup By Global Research News, September 19, 2014 by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)
The White House has given final approval for dramatically raising permissible radioactive levels in drinking water and soil following “radiological incidents,” such as nuclear power-plant accidents and dirty bombs. The final version, slated for Federal Register publication as soon as today, is a win for the nuclear industry which seeks what its proponents call a “new normal” for radiation exposure among the U.S population, according Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).
Issued by the Environmental Protection Agency, the radiation guides (called Protective Action Guides or PAGs) allow cleanup many times more lax than anything EPA has ever before accepted. These guides govern evacuations, shelter-in-place orders, food restrictions and other actions following a wide range of “radiological emergencies.” The Obama administration blocked a version of these PAGs from going into effect during its first days in office. The version given approval late last Friday is substantially similar to those proposed under Bush but duck some of the most controversial aspects:
In soil, the PAGs allow long-term public exposure to radiation in amounts as high as 2,000 millirems. This would, in effect, increase a longstanding 1 in 10,000 person cancer rate to a rate of 1 in 23 persons exposed over a 30-year period;
- In water, the PAGs punt on an exact new standard and EPA “continues to seek input on this.” But the thrust of the PAGs is to give on-site authorities much greater “flexibility” in setting aside established limits; and
- Resolves an internal fight inside EPA between nuclear versus public health specialists in favor of the former. The PAGs are the product of Gina McCarthy, the assistant administrator for air and radiation whose nomination to serve as EPA Administrator is taken up this week by the Senate.
- Despite the years-long internal fight, this is the first public official display of these guides. This takes place as Japan grapples with these same issues in the two years following its Fukushima nuclear disaster.
“This is a public health policy only Dr. Strangelove could embrace. If this typifies the environmental leadership we can expect from Ms. McCarthy, then EPA is in for a long, dirty slog,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that the EPA package lacks a cogent rationale, is largely impenetrable and hinges on a series of euphemistic “weasel words.”
“No compelling justification is offered for increasing the cancer deaths of Americans innocently exposed to corporate miscalculations several hundred-fold.”
Reportedly, the PAGs had been approved last fall but their publication was held until after the presidential election. The rationale for timing their release right before McCarthy’s confirmation hearing is unclear.
Since the PAGs guide agency decision-making and do not formally set standards or repeal statutory requirements, such as the Safe Drinking Water Act and Superfund, they will go into full effect following a short public comment period. Nonetheless, the PAGs will likely determine what actions take place on the ground in the days, weeks, months and, in some cases, years following a radiological emergency.
Radiation survivors receive government help http://www.ksdk.com/story/news/local/2014/09/26/cold-water-creek-radiation-government-help/16250253/ ST. LOUIS COUNTY – A group of classmates, who are losing friends every day to radiation at Cold Water Creek, are getting the news they’ve been fighting for after three years.
The state of Missouri is asking the Federal Government for help.
The state wants the Centers for Disease Control, The Environmental Protection Agency, and the Army Corps of Engineers to send money and specialized resources to the survivors and people dying from radiation.
Carl Chappell’s 43-year-old son has appendix cancer. The cancer effects about one in a million, but it’s showing up in many of Chappell’s son’s high school classmates. Chappell’s son used to play in the contributory of Coldwater Creek, near his Florissant home.
Radioactive materials from barrels of uranium from Mallinckrodt’s Storage Facilities started seeping into Cold Water Creek. The uranium was used to make the first atomic bombs.
Janell Wright, a former McCluer Graduate, wanted to know why so many of her classmates were getting rare cancers. She and other classmates asked the state to test study the area. The results showed no elevated levels of cancer. Wright knew the study was flawed.
Wright and her friends asked the head of the ST. Louis County Health Department, Dr Dolores Gunn, and her deputy, Dr. Faisal Khan, to help. Gunn and Khan gave the state more zip codes and a different way to test the cancers. This time the results were different.
“They showed elevated levels of leukemia in adults and brain cancer in childrenbetween 1996-2011 in zip codes in and around Cold Water Creek area,” Dr. Khan said.
Khan said the cancers could be attributed to exposure to radiation.
The county is now expanding its research and study in North County, and into other diseases possibly caused by radiation. It’s the only county in the state putting effort in the research. It could set a precedent for other communities like Westlake.
Chappell is hoping the federal government will get involved. His son is still living with appendix cancer, but his father, a Mallinckrodt employee for years with a direct radiation exposure, died from renal cancer.
Chappell wants Cold Water Creek to stop taking any more lives.
U.N. Leaders Must Include Nuclear Energy In Action Plan On Climate Change http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2014/09/25/u-n-leaders-must-include-nuclear-energy-in-action-plan-on-climate-change/Ron Kirk
Mr. Kirk, a U.S. trade representative from 2009-13, co-chairs the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition, funded by the nuclear energy industry. “……….The U.N. Climate Summit will build global partnerships among representatives from business, science, advocacy and government sectors. These partnerships will take action on an essential plan to reduce carbon pollution and address global climate change. This plan must include realistic actions that take us toward sustainable energy solutions, including building renewables and harnessing the strengths of nuclear energy, which provides 60 percent of clean carbon-free energy in the U.S. today……http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2014/09/25/u-n-leaders-must-include-nuclear-energy-in-action-plan-on-climate-change/
Japan Must Re-Embrace Nuclear Energy Jay Hallen “…… One piece of good news is that Japan’s nuclear regulators have permitted the reopening of two nuclear plants later this year, on the basis of satisfying higher safety standards. Two is not enough. Japan must find a way to safely replicate, and surpass, all of its past nuclear capacity in order to stand a chance of remaining one of the world’s advanced economies…..”. http://www.forbes.com/sites/jayhallen/2014/09/24/68/
Newly released data shows Florida hit with highest level of radioactive material from Fukushima measured anywhere in world outside Japan — #1 out of more than 1,500 test results — Total radioactive iodine was up to 500% of amount reported http://dublinsmickdotcom.wordpress.com/2014/09/27/newly-released-data-shows-florida-hit-with-highest-level-of-radioactive-material-from-fukushima-measured-anywhere-in-world-outside-japan-1-out-of-more-than-1500-test-results-tot/
According to remarks included with CTBTO data recently released by the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, the total iodine-131 in the air was up to 500% of the amount shown.
Read entire article here:
Sea change: big US businesses now support climate policy theguardian.com, Saturday 27 September 2014 Jennifer Kho Climate Week might have been a washout politically, but insiders found reasons for optimism in the business discussions Plenty of attendees expressed disappointment with the United Nations climate talks this week in New York. “The bottom line is I’m not turning cartwheels after the talks yesterday,” said Greg Barker, UK prime minister David Cameron’s envoy on climate change, at a Climate Week session on clean energy investment Wednesday. “This hasn’t been the show many of us hoped it would be.”
But while the political commitments may have fallen short of the “bold new announcements and action” that UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon called for, several industry insiders found reasons for optimism in the business discussions.
Kevin Moss, head of UK-based telco BT’s Net Good program, said he’s seen a major shift in sentiment from US companies leading up to Climate Week. “In the last few weeks, I’ve been much more encouraged than I was a year ago,” he said. “I think we’re at a turning point.”
It’s an interesting viewpoint from someone who witnessed – and actively supported – climate change policy in Europe, which has outpaced that in the US. There’s still less business resistance to regulation in Europe, Moss said. “But I’m really feeling that changing here (in the US),” he said. “American companies are supporting a price on carbon.”…….
There’s also more objective proof that opinions are changing: the World Bank on Monday announced it had received pledges of support for carbon pricing from 1,000 companies and investors, as well as 73 national and 11 regional governments. And a report from nonprofit CDP earlier this month found that 150 major companies already have put an internal price on carbon.
What has spurred this change?
Compared to 2010, when a US climate bill failed and climate talks were held in Cancun, Mexico, clean energy has grown a lot cheaper and has become a far more mainstream investment, Juska said. Meanwhile, successful state and local climate policies – such as in New York, California and Hawaii – have instilled more confidence, he added…….
Meanwhile, the private sector has made “stunning advances”, such as dramatically cutting the cost of clean energy, Barker said. And the perceived risk from climate policy has also fallen as several countries – such as the UK – have demonstrated the ability to cut emissions while growing the economy.
“There are reasons to be cheerful, but I think one of the strongest reasons to be cheerful is finance,” Barker said during a session on clean energy investment at Bloomberg on Wednesday. “There is without doubt a growing appetite and interest in finding ways to harness the great growth industry of the 21st century, which is clean energy.”……http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2014/sep/25/business-came-out-on-top-during-climate-week?commentpage=1
As the US launches new military actions in the Middle East, the groups say getting information about the military’s use of DU in weaponry and its long-term effects is as urgent as ever. According to “In a State of Uncertainty,” a report by the Netherlands-based organization PAX, Iraq has been subject to the largest use of DU munitions of all areas of conflict and test sites, conservatively estimated to be at least 440 metric tons, though the United Nations Environment Programme has estimated an amount up to five times that based on satellite imagery. Iraqi civilians thought to have been exposed to DU and remaining debris have suffered high rates of cancer and birth defects and U.S. veterans report unexplained illnesses.
US urged to clarify depleted uranium policy as A-10 gunships deploy to the Middle East http://www.bandepleteduranium.org/en/us-to-deploy-a-10-gunships-to-the-middle-east 23 Sept 14
The Pentagon has announced plans to send 12 A-10 gunships from the 122nd Fighter Wing to an unspecified location in the Middle East as part of its wider campaign against Islamic State (IS) fighters. The aircraft, which can fire 30mm DU cannon rounds, are designed for use in close air support of grounds troops. However President Obama has given assurances that US troops will not be involved in ground combat operations during the conflict.
In June, Iraq called for a global treaty ban on DU, highlighting the need for technical assistance for clearance and urging the UN and member states to act with more urgency on the issue. The renewed use of DU on its territory when contamination from 1991 and 2003 remains unresolved would be politically problematic. ICBUW strongly urges the US not to use DU and to state publicly that it will not do so. The arrival of the A-10s in the Middle East will coincide with debate over a fifth UN General Assembly resolution expressing concern over DU weapons.
With the aircraft not due in the Middle East until mid-October, there is an opportunity for US campaigners to seek clarification on whether DU will be used. Those in countries forming part of the new coalition, such as France and the UK, should ask their governments whether they endorse any use of DU by US forces in the conflict.
US DU usage policy unclear
The deployment may provide a new test for US policy on DU use – namely when does it view its use acceptable or unacceptable. Following the short-lived use of A-10s in Libya in 2011, the US claimed that no DU had been used – although reserved the right to use it in future. Concern over the potential use of DU in Libya had been raised by parliamentarians in a number of NATO countries, including the UK and Belgium. Analysts expressed surprise at the US decision, as tackling Libya’s armoured vehicles seemed like a logical use for the A-10, a role for which the US claims DU ammunition is critically important. This remains the political line although information revealed earlier this year demonstrated that DU was also used against non-armoured targets, unmounted troops and buildings in Iraq in 2003.
A-10 aircraft fire 30mm PGU-14 armour piercing incendiary DU ammunition from a cannon fitted beneath the cockpit. The GAU-8 cannon normally fires a standard combat mixture of PGU-14 and PGU-13 high explosive rounds, which are pre-loaded on an ammunition belt before the plane takes off. The A-10 has been responsible for more DU contamination than any other platform. In the case of Libya, and if the US statement was correct, then it was the first public acknowledgement by the US that A-10s were being loaded only with the high explosive PGU-13 rounds during combat of this type, although the practice has previously been identified in photographs of A-10 units in Afghanistan.
At issue is therefore whether the US has set itself a voluntary code of conduct that determines whether DU use is acceptable or not in any given conflict. Perhaps it is cost/benefit analysis of perceived military necessity versus impact on public relations? The calculation underlines the continuing global stigmatisation of the weapons, which is also reflected in the increasingly large majorities voting in favour of DU resolutions at the UN General Assembly. It is highly likely that, given the level of concern about the weapons in the region, any use of DU by the US would be a propaganda victory for IS.
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