The trail of Depleted Uranium: It looks like Starmet CMI (formerly Carolina Metals, Inc.; formerly Nuclear Metals, Inc.) is the (sole?) facility for processing (enrichment of) uranium metal. The enriched material goes to United States Enrichment Corporation for power plants. Some (relatively small portion) of the "depleted uranium" co-product is fabricated as penetrators and provided to Alliant Techsystems and General Dynamics for use in ammunition. There are other current uses for "depleted uranium" as reinforcement in tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicle Systems, which it seems must be supplied by Starmet as well. I'm not certain, but the U.S. may still control the enrichment for weapons systems. I'm not sure who makes the nuclear warheads.
- This page is in itself a good example of misleading information, this time from an anti-war / ecological side. The important point that is simply left out is that because of its extreme long half-life (4.5 billion years) 238U is indeed not particularly radioactive. It is even less active than 40K a naturally occurring potassium isotope we all carry in our bodies. (Its halflife is 1.9 billion years). Of course Uranium is a heavy metal and poisonous, but then so is lead. And lead bullets also kill.
My point is this. If SourceWatch is to be effective in fighting disinformation it should make sure that its own information is believable and accurate. In this case it is not and that jeopardizes this whole website.
There's plenty of room on the page for the addition of these observations on radioactivity. There isn't any mention yet of radiation effects, or of other specific effects. Your note agrees with my general understanding that the most worrisome danger is as a toxic chemical rather than as radiation. It's a good wonder as to why we don't hear about potential lead poisonings. Lead is so soft, is it used at all in military bullets?
As to the SourceWatch content of this page, specifically whether it is "believable and accurate", I find it to be both. The content will always be incomplete.
I'd be delighted if these four tests of "legal under International law" were true; but a reference is appropriate. Please link the source for this claim. That said, there are surely a lot of illegal weapons which are not WMD, and DU is perhaps the best example.
Furthermore, if the persistent anonymous editor of this material would more carefully read the existing article, they should easily see that the evils of DU are presented (to which the following addition would be welcome if inserted gracefully), and the distinction between immediate destruction and long term devastation should be clear.
Additionally, statements like "Click on Poisonous Legacy ..." are inappropriate for SourceWatch. The author/editor should provide the link itself. In this instance, there isn't even reference to a page which provides the link to click.
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What would you call a weapon that ups radiation levels in a major city (Baghdad) by 2000% -- HIGHER if you're a child playing on a tank destroyed by a DU penetrator. What would you call a weapon that has increasd cancers in Iraq by 700% to 1000%, since the First Gulf War of 1991 alone? What would you call a weapon that increases extreme birth defects (truly horrendous to see) by 400 to 600% in Iraq? DU is pyrophoric, and becomes aerosolized when a penetrator hits, say tank armor. 40% to 70% is thus turned into minute glass spheres of sub-micron dimensions. These become airborne, settle onto the soil, enter the ground water, and are ingested.
DU is also poisonous, as it is a heavy metal, like lead or cadmium.
THE HALF-LIFE OF DU IS 4.5 Billion Years. So, when the world is twice as old as it now is, DU will still be half as radioactive as it now is.
To be legal under International law, a weapon must pass four tests:
1. The Temporal Test: Weapons must not continue to act after the battle is over. (FAILED, as Baghdad, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, and probably the world, due to drift, will still be radioactive when the Earth is 9 Billion years old.
2. The Environmental Test: Weapons must not be unduly harmful to the environment. FAILED (In addition to surging leukemias, cancers, and the grossest of birth defects in Iraq, even plants like trees are apparently being negatively affected.
3. The Territorial Test: Weapons must not act, off the battlefield. FAILED Where is the "battlefield"? The DU is being brought home to the US and UK by US and UK soldiers exposed to this dust during their service in Iraq. They are testing positive for DU exposure. They are ill and unhappy. What a reward for these young guys who were doing their duty! It also poisions and radiates just about everyone in the aforementioned countries. Where is our compassion?
4. The Humaneness Test: Weapons must not kill or wound inhumanely. FAILED Leukemia is soaring in Baghdad, as are cancers. Sheep in rural areas (guarded by little kids of 6 years or so) now suddenly collapse, writhe in agony and die. Gulf War vets of both 1991 and 2003 are suffering from Gulf War Syndrome, which is acknowledged more and more to resemble DU poisoning. They are having babiesj with serious birth defects that closely resemble the birth defects now found in Iraqi infants.
We've dropped hundred of TONS of DU in the penetrators and bunker busters in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Yugoslovia. This stuff ain't going away, ladies and gentlemen. Think about it.
Click on Poisonous Legacy for a heart-wrenching eye-opener. No WWW seems to be needed. It's a brief video of stunning impact that is backed up by scientific info on the web. It only lasts 2 minutes (and a lifetime, in the heart) It takes a couple of minutes to download, and is well worth the wait.
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Surging Leukemias, perhaps, but certainly not cancers, they wouldn't show up for several more years. Pure Uranium-238 shoudl not cause widespread damage. The real issue here is what else was contained in the substance nominally labelled as "depleted Uranium". The references in the main article back me up here, it is the concentration of other impurities and the length of time the DU has been around for which make it hazardous. Properly managed, "pure", DU is an asset to society for a number of reasons.
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Relocated November 10, 2005:
"I am an award-winning investigative reporter and founder of the Ruminations on America Project (www.ruminationsonamerica.blogspot.com), where an investigative article I wrote on Depleted Uranium is now posted (http://ruminationsonamerica.blogspot.com/2005/11/depleted-uranium-new-agent-orange.html). The piece tells the story of "Operation Iraqi Freedom" veteran Herbert Reed and his entire unit, currently suing the US Government for, they believe, knowingly exposing them to DU.
I thought you might be interested.
All the best,
Rita J. King
OSHA & CDC: Toxicity, Confirmed Human Carcinogen
Uranium (as U), Insoluble compounds
Depleted Uranium search at www.osha.gov:
Furthermore, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission should have lifetime exposure limits data (exposure badges) you could use as reference for permissable background radiation info although there has been at least one report I've read over the last 2 to 4 years that states that any exposure (xray technicians) is too much. Historical info on detrimental effects on health should be available on searches of the uranium mining industry (Nevada, Utah?).
"Utah's fabled uranium boom was not without tragedy. From the Manhattan Project days, health scientists warned that radiation in the mines was a danger to miners. Medical literature dating as early as the sixteenth century documented cancer deaths claiming a high percentage of radium miners in the Erz Mountains of Germany and Czechoslovakia. But neither the AEC, state governments, nor the mining companies would take responsibility to regulate ventilation and safety practices. It was not until hundreds of uranium miners in Utah, Colorado, Arizona and new Mexico had succumbed to lung cancer that safe levels of radiation were finally imposed. And not until 1989, after years of furtive court battles, that the United States Congress passed legislation to financially compensate radiation victims."
History of Uranium in Utah
CAPS LOCK IS CRUISE CONTROL FOR COOL
I THINK WE SHOULD GET RID OF THE ALL-CAPITALIZED WORDS IN THE ARTICLE, IT SUGGESTS A BIAS AND WE ARE SUPPOSED TO BE UNBIASED.
Added small external link (about DU weapons) from gulfwarvets.com. The page is getting kind of long. Couldn't tell whether it had already been added. iT's a really good reference. T.Vincent
This page is extremely important and topical. Unfortunately it is also a mess. I have made a stab at reworking the outline for the page. (Editors let me know what you think)
My reasons for adding the "uses" category are because currently the page focuses entirely on the DU weapons question and makes no mention of the fact that DU is quietly appearing everywhere in our culture. (Potentially just as alarming.)
The properties section to my eye is the proper place to start the discussion of the potential dangers of DU: toxicity, radioactivity, etc.
I would like to continue to work on organizing this page so that it is more useful for those doing research on DU. Thanks T. Vincent