2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 9 Jan 2003 15:29:11 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Toxic ammo is tested in fish areas
Thursday, January 9, 2003
Toxic ammo is tested in fish areas
U.S. Navy uses depleted uranium in coast waters; activists may go to

The Navy routinely tests a weapon by firing radioactive, toxic
ammunition in prime fishing areas off the coast of Washington, raising
concerns from scientists, fishermen and activists.

The Navy insists the use of depleted uranium off the coast poses no
threat to the environment. Depleted uranium, known as DU, is a highly
dense metal that is the byproduct of the process during which
fissionable uranium used to manufacture nuclear bombs and reactor fuel
is separated from natural uranium. DU remains radioactive for about 4.5
billion years.

Cmdr. Karen Sellers, a Navy spokeswoman in Seattle, also said there are
no hazards to the servicemen and women on board the ships, adding that
"all crew members are medically monitored" to ensure their safety.

But a coalition of Northwest environmental and anti-war activists say
they are considering seeking an injunction to halt the tests.

"The Navy is willing to put us all at risk, including its own sailors,
to improve its war-fighting capabilities," said Glen Milner, of Ground
Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, one of the groups weighing a suit to
stop the Navy tests. Milner received information on the Navy's tests of
depleted uranium ammunition off the coast in a memo released in response
to a Freedom of Information Act request.

No major studies apparently have been done on the effects of such
weapons in the ocean. Where depleted uranium munitions have been used in
combat on land, such as in Iraq during the Gulf War, or in tests on
land, such as Vieques island in Puerto Rico, they not only give off
relatively small amounts of radiation, but produce toxic dust that can
enter the food chain.

Seattle environmental attorney David Mann asked, "How can the Navy fire
depleted uranium rounds and spread radioactive material into prime
fishing areas off our coast?"

Sellers, however, said that only 400 to 600 rounds would be fired during
a typical test at sea. And even though these tests have been going on
since 1977, she said Navy environmental experts say that the DU
dissolves very slowly in the ocean.

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