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VETERANS FOR PEACE
Humboldt Bay Chapter 56

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WHAT DOES THE U.S. GOVERNMENT ALREADY KNOW ABOUT DU? 

“If depleted uranium enters the body, it has a potential to generate significant medical consequences. The risks associated with depleted uranium are both chemical and radiological.”

Army Environmental Policy Institute (AEPI), 1995

“Inhaled insoluble oxides stay in the lungs longer and pose a potential cancer risk due to radiation. Ingested DU dust can also pose a radioactive and a toxicity risk.”

1993 – U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO), Operation Desert Storm: Army Not Adequately Prepared to Deal With Depleted Uranium Contamination, (GAO/NSIAD-93-90), Jan 1993, pp 17-18.

“Aerosol DU exposures to soldiers on the battlefield could be significant with potential radiological & toxicological effects.”

U.S. Army Armament, Munitions & Chemical Command report, Kinetic Energy Penetrator Long Term Strategy Study, July 1990.

“US service personnel also could have been exposed to DU if they inhaled or ingested DU dust particles during incidental contact with vehicles destroyed by DU munitions, or if they lived or worked in areas contaminated with DU dust from accidental munitions fires. Thus, unnecessary exposure of many individuals could have occurred.”

Presidential Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans Illnesses, Final Report, Dec 1996, p.99.

“Personnel in or near (less than 50m) an armored vehicle at the time these vehicles were struck by DU munitions could receive significant internal DU Exposures (i.e. those in excess of allowable standards).”

Col. Eric Daxon, Radiation Protection Staff Officer, US Army Medical Command, summarizing results of a Dec 1989 report from the Ballistic Research Laboratory, Radiological Contamination From Impacted Abrams Heavy Armor. Flisar, et.al.

“Depleted Uranium is more of a problem than we thought when it was developed. But it was developed according to standards & was thought through very carefully. It turned out perhaps to be wrong.”

Brent Scrowcroft, former National Security Advisor to President Bush, from an executive summary: Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Illnesses, 2004 Report & Recommendations.

In January, 1998, the U.S. Dept of Defense expressed its first & only admission of responsibility for Gulf War Uranium Exposures:

“Our investigations into potential health hazards of depleted uranium point to serious deficiencies in what our troop understood about the health effects posed on the battlefield…Combat troops or those carrying out support functions generally did not know that DU contaminated equipment, such as enemy vehicles struck by DU rounds, require special handling…The failure to properly disseminate such information to troops at all levels may have resulted in thousands of unnecessary exposures.”

Annual report of the Office of the Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense for Gulf War Illnesses: Jan 8, 1998: p29.

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The Dept of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) both define a RADIOLOGICAL DISPERSAL DEVICE and a “DIRTY BOMB” the same:

“A ‘dirty bomb’ is one type of a radiological dispersal device (RDD) that combines a conventional explosive, such as dynamite, with radioactive material.”

“Radioactive Material” is defined by the NRC as  “Uranium or thorium or any combination of uranium and thorium in any physical or chemical form.”

Ammunition made from DU is “radioactive material” dispersed by a conventional explosive. DU munitions meet the NRC & DHS definition of a “dirty bomb”.
          
“A RADIOLOGICAL INCIDENT is as an event or series of events, deliberate or accidental, leading to the release, or potential release, into the environment of radioactive material in sufficient quantity to warrant consideration of protective actions. Use of an RDD is an act of terror that produces a radiological incident.”

Department of Homeland Security – Protective Action Guides for Radiological Dispersal Device (RDD) – Preparedness Directorate 1660-ZA02

USING the DHS & NRC DEFINITIONS above:
·       DU IS A DIRTY BOMB.
·       RELEASING URANIUM IS AN “ACT OF TERROR”.
         

What about the laws; treaties; Rules of Engagement; Law of Armed Conflict; and U.N. Humanitarian Resolutions, in the context of DU?

“It is especially important that treaties, having the force of law equal to laws enacted by the Congress of the U.S., be scrupulously adhered to by the United States Armed Forces.”

The U.S. Dept of the Air Force manual, “International Law: The conduct of Armed conflict and Air Operations”, AFP 110-31, Nov 19, 1976, governs all actions of US air Force pilots. This manual acknowledges that the Dept of Air force must adhere to international & U.S. Military Law regarding bombardment & air operations.

The 1907 Hague Convention IV*, Section II, Article 23, absolutely forbids use of any poison or poisoned weapons in war.

* Convention Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land
“Poison” is defined in the Air Force manual AFP 110-31 in a way that clearly describes properties of uranium (DU munitions).

“Poisons are biological or chemical substances causing death or disability with permanent effects when, in even small quantities they are ingested, enter the lungs or bloodstream, or through the skin.”

COMMENTARY ON GOVERNMENT KNOWLEDGE OF DU HEALTH EFFECTS
Decades of government funded investigation into the potential health and environmental effects of ingested uranium are referenced above. Uranium is highly regulated because its properties are indisputable with known hazards to living systems.

The effects of ingested DU (low-level radiation & chemical exposures) may take years to declare as a documented disease. There is no epidemiology data on individuals potentially exposed to DU aerosols (soldiers or civilians).

“No data” means no confirmed basis to cease the use of these very superior DU munitions, nor assume any health, legal, financial, or environmental liabilities

As was said about Agent Orange exposure 40 years ago ( a condition now recognized and compensated for by the VA), “as far as we know DU is safe”

In May of 2003 Lt. Col. Michael Sigmon, deputy surgeon for the US Army’s V Corps, explained to Baghdad journalists the army viewpoint on depleted uranium contamination: “There is not really any danger, at least that we know about, for the people of Iraq.”

Considering the Department of Veteran Affairs DU Testing Program uses a study group too small to scientifically conclude anything, and uses an inferior testing method with a 180-day period of validity (while available methods can detect DU 20 years after exposure), those skeptical of government priorities may be concerned the testing program is a shield to prevent better data from emerging…data that could threaten  the continued use of radiological agents (DU) in warfare.

The main reason the government DU testing program isn’t larger is troops don’t know about DU. They haven’t had their required DU safety training. Three General Accounting Office reports in the 1990s said the same thing”DU safety raining needed”… ”troops inadequately prepared.”