2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 15 Apr 2003 14:07:15 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] US rejects Iraq DU clean-up
US rejects Iraq DU clean-up
By Alex Kirby
BBC News Online environment correspondent

The US says it has no plans to remove the debris left over from depleted
uranium (DU) weapons it is using in Iraq.

It says no clean-up is needed, because research shows DU has no
long-term effects.

It says a 1990 study suggesting health risks to local people and
veterans is out of date.

A United Nations study found DU contaminating air and water seven years
after it was used.

DU, left over after natural uranium has been enriched, is 1.7 times
denser than lead, and very effective for punching through armoured

When a weapon with a DU tip or core strikes a solid object, like the
side of a tank, it goes straight through before erupting in a burning
cloud of vapour. This settles as chemically poisonous and radioactive

Risk studies

Both the US and the UK acknowledge the dust can be dangerous if inhaled,
though they say the danger is short-lived, localised, and much more
likely to lead to chemical poisoning than to irradiation.

But a study prepared for the US Army in July 1990, a month before Iraq
invaded Kuwait, says: "The health risks associated with internal and
external DU exposure during combat conditions are certainly far less
than other combat-related risks.

"Following combat, however, the condition of the battlefield and the
long-term health risks to natives and combat veterans may become issues
in the acceptability of the continued use of DU."

A Pentagon spokesman, Lieutenant-Colonel David Lapan, told BBC News
Online: "Since then there've been a number of studies - by the UK's
Royal Society and the World Health Organisation, for example - into the
health risks of DU, or the lack of them.

"It's fair to say the 1990 study has been overtaken by them. One thing
we've found in these various studies is that there are no long-term
effects from DU.

"And given that, I don't believe we have any plans for a DU clean-up in

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