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Too much money at stake, for USA and UK to address the issue of depleted uranium and health

Christina Macpherson's websites & blogs

Christina Macpherson’s websites & blogs

Amazing!  The fact that depleted uranium is so cheap – in fact, free- and that it solves DOE’s problem of what to do with this radioactive trash  –   these practical and financial considerations apparently outweigh any concern for the health of America’s finest, let alone for the health of Iraqui civilians!

It will cost in the end,  care of sick soldiers, lawsuits from soldiers, lawsuits from Iraq.

But I suppose, by that time, the worthy decision makers in the Pentagon and the arms business will have passed away – leaving the bill for everyone’s grandchildren

Par for the course, in all matters nuclear.

depleted-uraniumDepleted Uranium: The New Agent Orange  Source: Jiang, George C.-T. and Aschner, Michael. “Neurotoxicity of Depleted Uranium: Reasons for Increased Concern.” Biological Trace Element Research. Vol. 110, 2006 Bellingcat, December 8, 2014 By Aliaume Leroy

 Between 1990 and 1991, the US and UK troops fired over 290 metric tons [1] of Depleted Uranium (DU) projectiles in Iraq and Kuwait. It was the first time that this type of ammunitions was used on the battlefield. The US military employed it in Afghanistan in 2001 and again in Iraq in 2003. It was however in the aftermath of the 1991 Persian Gulf War that the controversy surrounding DU today developed. In the years following the war, the rate of cancers and malformations rose sharply in certain parts of Iraq. Furthermore, some American and British veterans started to experience a chronic multi-symptom disorder known as the Gulf War Syndrome.

On one hand, “misinformation disseminated by both the Iraqi government and the US Department of Defense has made analysis of DU’s impact difficult.”[2] On the other hand, the medias had the tendency to over-sensationalize the issue. Even worst was the fact that scientists themselves were caught in the midst of this politicization. On top of that, Iraq does not have the laboratory capacity to establish the existence of a direct link between DU and the health issues it is facing at the moment.[3]………..

DU has been used in various civilian and commercial fields: medicine, aviation, space and petroleum industry. Since it is 1.7 times denser that lead, it is used as ballast for commercial aircraft, ships, as well as satellites.[8] Another example of the civilian use of DU is in the medical industry where DU is employed in radiotherapy units as part of radiation shields.[9] However, the most fervent customers of DU have been the military-industrial complexes. “The United States began exploring, developing, and testing ways to employ depleted uranium in the early 1970’s in what were termed ‘kinetic energy penetrators’ and tank armor.”[10]As DU is extremely dense and pyrophoric, DU projectiles melt when they hit a hard target, sharpen and thus pierce the heavy armor.[11] Furthermore, the DU contained in shells ignites and aerosolizes upon impact, “forming tiny particles suspended in the air and dispersing them over an area.”[12] DU also becomes a very resistant material when it is mixed with other metals, like titanium, thus creating a shield for tank that no conventional weapon can penetrate……………

Interestingly, the US military’s true reason behind its choice of DU stems from an economic stance. DU is available in large stocks in the US. Currently, the Department of Energy (DoE) keeps “over 700, 000 metric tons of depleted uranium tails in about 63, 000 metal cylinders in storage yards at its Paducah, Kentucky, and Portsmouth, Ohio, enrichment plants.”[15] Furthermore, DU is free of charge since it is under the control of the DoE. This means that the US military does not have to spend money importing or producing other materials. DU is thus absolutely cost-effective: the military spends nothing and retrieves all the benefits. This practical mindset explains why the American government has so far refused to remove DU from its military arsenal. In light of the economic reason, the DU effectiveness argument appears to be nothing more than a justifying smoke screen. This view is reinforced by the words of Lieutenant Colonel M.V. Ziehmn of the Los Alamos Laboratory: “If no one makes the case for the effectiveness for DU on the battlefield, DU rounds may become politically unacceptable and thus, be deleted from the arsenal… I believe we should keep this sensitive issue in mind when after-action reports are being written.”[16]

The human body intakes DU in three ways: inhalation, ingestion, and dermal contact. With DU ammunitions, the inhalation route is the most common. As stated earlier, DU projectiles aerosolize when they hit a target, projecting small particles all over an area, which then remain suspended in the air by wind or settle down on the soil for later resuspension.[17] Dermal contact is less important. DU does not penetrate the skin unless a fragment enters the organism. American and British veterans were exposed to DU through these two pathways: inhaling the particles or being wounded by DU shrapnel. However, the ingestion route should not be underestimated. Iraqi children playing in conflict zone are more likely to ingest DU because of hand-to-mouth activity. Furthermore, it is known that children are “10 to 20 times more susceptible to the carcinogenic effects than adults.”[18] This statement leads us to the following question: Does DU present health risks?………..

no one can deny today that DU did play a key role in aggravating the Iraqi health crisis.

DU ammunitions appear to be correlated with increased health risks. The various discordant claims and the politicization of the issue however impede the formulation of a conclusive and definitive statement. As Doug Rokke, a former Pentagon DU expert, eloquently puts it: “[DU] is the Agent Orange of the 1990s.”[28] More research is certainly needed to understand clearly DU’s impacts on health. Yet, the US army is still using DU despite the controversy that surrounds it and the fact that its efficiency has remained unaccounted for.

Why? Too much is at stake. If DU was found to be highly dangerous for the health and the environment, governments – mainly the US, UK, France, China and Russia – will be forced to remove this effective weaponry from their respective military arsenals and stop short nuclear plants (that uses enriched uranium): An unwanted scenario for those countries as well as for the defence and nuclear industries. https://www.bellingcat.com/news/2014/12/08/depleted-uranium-the-new-agent-orange/

 

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December 10, 2014 - Posted by | depleted uranium

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