COGHILL RESEARCH LABORATORIES LOWER RACE, PONTYPOOL, GWENT NP4
Tel: 00 44 1495 763389 Fax: 00 44 1495 769882
The public at large, both in UK and in Yugoslavia, are unaware that 30 mm bullets being fired by A-10 anti-tank aircraft and probably all Tomahawk Cruise missiles in this action contain depleted uranium (DU).
The development of these radioactive weapons is based on the fact that uranium (atomic mass 238) is much denser than lead (atomic mass 207), and therefore its kinetic energy is sufficient to penetrate tank armour or concrete buildings more effectively than lead, prior to detonation. The design of the bullet is to incorporate a long thin cylinder of DU housed in a plastic sheath or "sabot". This means in turn that the very small leading edge of the bullet peirces with maximum impact. The same principle is used in Tomahawk Cruise missiles, with the aim of piercing concrete obstructions rather than metal.
The bullets were used in the Gulf War , and some 1 million of them still
lie in the deserts of that region where subsequently the incidence of leukaemias,
cancer, and birth defects have risen sharply as a consequence of the ensuing
environmental radiation. The amount of DU scattered around the Gulf war
zone is given as 350 tonnes, but including the nose cones of Cruise missiles
and helicopter rotors, the figure is nearer 750 tonnes.
This is 27 TBequerels of radioactivity, one fiftieth of the total alpha releases from Sellafield over its entire operating history. The same is happening in Bosnia where DU was also employed. Some 80,000 US Gulf War veterans now suffer from the so-called Gulf War syndrome, whose symptoms are identical to radiation sickness. The US military are well aware of this and are on record as confirming 2.5mGy/hr at the surface of a DU shell, a dose equivalent to a chest X-ray per hour. Each A-10 Thunderbolt 30mm cannon anti tank shell contains some 275g (10.1 Bq). A single 120mm Abrams tank DU shell contains 3kg of U-238 (111 MBq) of activity.
When DU bombs detonate, uranium oxide is formed in particulates of between 0.5 and 5 microns. These can be windborne several hundred miles or suspended electrostatically in the atmosphere. The half life of Uranium is 109 (ten to the ninth) years, so they do not decay. One "hot particle" of this DU material in the lungs is equivalent to a chest X-ray per hour for life. It is impossible to remove, so the donated lung gradually irradiates the victim until death ensues. In the use of DU both ground-based combatants and their targets are almost certain to suffer long term radiation sickness and premature death. The Pentagon view is that the short term effectiveness outweighs the long term situation, but this is in error.
The public at large are unaware that these weapons are weapons of mass destruction and have been requested to be placed, like cluster bombs, on the Geneva Convention banned list.
It is said that the unprecedented use of Cruise missiles with DU inserts
in Yugoslavia will have the same effect as the Chernobyl and Mile Island
disaster. Again these calculations by eminent radiation physicists are
not being released to the media. In other words the action of NATO not
In this respect but also, since they have no UN mandate, are illegal, and likely to have a long term pernicious effect not only on that part of Europe, but on their own ground troops if deployed, and almost certainly on the refugees from the Kosovo region. This may be partly why NATO is reluctant to engage ground troops: You will see they are beginning already to wear submicron gas masks on the CNN and other news program pictures.
The Yugoslav population however, together with aid workers and ethnic
Albanians are largely unprotected.
Appendix: Metal of Dishonor, 1997.
Did the Pentagon poison Iraq's people and U.S. Soldiers with radioactive weapons? Learn about the criminal use of depleted uranium. Scientists, Gulf War veterans, leaders of environmental, anti-nuclear, anti-military and community movements discuss: a new generation of radioactive conventional weapons; the connections of Depleted Uranium to Gulf War Syndrome; the Pentagon recycling of nuclear waste--a new global threat; and an international movement to BAN all DU weapons.
In May, 1997, the International Action Center published a book of essays and lectures on depleted uranium: the contamination of the planet by the United States military. In addition to exposing the deadly duplicity of the Department of Defense, the book documents the genocide of Native Americans and Iraqis by military radiation, the connection between depleted uranium and Gulf War Syndrome, the underestimated dangers from low-level radiation, the legal ramifications of DU Production and Use, and the growing movement against DU.
Excerpted from Metal of Dishonor : How Depleted Uranium Penetrates Steel, Radiates People and Contaminates the Environment by Ramsey Clark, Helen Caldicott, Michio Kaku, and Jay Gould. Copyright © 1997. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved Preface Metal of Dishonor grew out of the work of the Depleted Uranium Education Project and the other organizations that contributed to building a meeting at the United Nations Church Center in New York on September 12, 1996. Hundreds of individuals have made Metal of Dishonor and the entire Depleted Uranium Education Project possible.
Their contributions document the hazardous, radioactive nature of depleted uranium weapons. Scientific papers, scholarly briefs, and forceful arguments-some based on talks given at the September 12 meeting-make up the articles in this book. Scientists, medical and legal experts, political analysts and community activists wrote them. This heterogeneous collection of articles, most published here for the first time, makes a strong case that depleted-uranium weapons are not only lethal to their intended targets, they are dangerous for the humans who handle them and for the present and future environment of the planet. They also show there is potential for building a movement to end this danger.
On February 27, 1997, the Pentagon admitted that eight days of logs documenting chemical exposure have "disappeared." These logs were stored on disc and hard copy in different places. This monumental slip raises these questions: How much other information has also disappeared or been suppressed? Is an even larger coverup taking place? Is something vital about DU also being covered up? We have not yet found data that enumerate how many women, poor people, how many African American, Latino and other people of color suffer from Gulf War Syndrome. But we know that youth in Black, Latino and other communities that face racism are disproportionately pushed into the military by lack of economic opportunity in U.S. society.
Almost half the troops in the Gulf were Black and Latino. The largest number of women in military history served in the Gulf War. It is routine for both the military and the government to ignore these sectors of society regarding benefits and care. It is also that part of the population most likely to need government benefits to get any health care. We have gathered material to explain the impact of uranium mining and waste on Native American lands, the impact on peoples of the South Pacific and U.S. veterans exposed to nuclear blast sites, the impact on peoples living near nuclear reactors and the impact on peoples in the Middle East. Further research in all of these areas is needed along with research on the health and environmental consequences in areas surrounding military test sites and production facilities. Although some of the articles in Metal of Dishonor cover more than one subject, we've grouped them all in specific sections based on a major subject covered. For the convenience of the reader, we've published the more important quotes from government sources in Appendix I. And we have included a section on organizations and resources in Appendix VII that should make it easy for anyone motivated by reading this book to connect with the groups that are carrying out the struggle against DU.
We hope Metal of Dishonor will serve as an organizing tool that will contribute to the fight for an independent inquiry into the causes of Gulf War Syndrome and an eventual ban on the use of depleted-uranium weapons.
What Government Documents Admit "If DU enters the body, it has the potential to generate significant medical consequences. The risks associated with DU in the body are both chemical and radiological." "Personnel inside or near vehicles struck by DU penetrators could receive significant internal exposures."
From the Army Environmental Policy Institute (AEPI), Health and Environmental Consequences of Depleted Uranium Use in the U.S. Army, June 1995 "Short-term effects of high doses can result in death, while long-term effects of low doses have been implicated in cancer." "Aerosol DU exposures to soldiers on the battlefield could be significant with potential radiological and toxicological effects."
From the Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) report, included as Appendix D of AMMCOM's Kinetic Energy Penetrator Long Term Strategy Study, Danesi, July 1990.
This report was completed six months before Desert Storm. "Inhaled insoluble oxides stay in the lungs longer and pose a potential cancer risk due to radiation. Ingested DU dust can also pose both a radioactive and a toxicity risk."
Operation Desert Storm: Army Not Adequately Prepared to Deal With Depleted Uranium Contamination, United States General Accounting Office (GAO/NSIAD-93-90), January 1993, pp. 17-18.
What the Government Is Telling Us "The Committee concludes that it is unlikely that health effects reports by Gulf War Veterans today are the result of exposure to depleted uranium during the Gulf war."
From the Final Report: Presidential Advisory Committee of Gulf War Veterans
Illnesses, December 1996.