Date: August 6th, 2001
Re: Depleted Uranium -- not so new after all
To whom it may concern:
Having briefly visited the Chugoku Shimbun web page linked to below, it looks very powerful.
But I want to note that in the first paragraph it describes Depleted Uranium as a "new" weapon, as in, new when used in the 1991 Gulf War.
True, its first known deployment was in the Gulf War. However, D. U. weapons have been in development for at least 30 years. They have been machined out of Depleted Uranium metal, and sent to troops to play with and see how they like them.
This "testing" was done, not surprisingly, by firing D.U. rounds at various things, from various other things. The A-10 Warthog "tank buster" aircraft, now considered an old workhorse of the U.S. military, was in essence designed around the Depleted Uranium shell, which it fires at the rate of nearly 4,000 rounds a minute.
Where did they test this?
Vieques, for one place. And Okinowa. And numerous places in America, and probably lots of other places too. All over the place. Millions of rounds of ammunition.
They could have used tungsten, I understand. But there's a big difference. Nobody is giving away tungsten. People are dying to give away Depleted Uranium.
And speaking of which, a recent article described Depleted Uranium as being "by definition, depleted of radioactivity" or some such nonsense.
It's not, at all! Its just got somewhat less radioactivity than they can actually use for something like nuclear fuel or nuclear bombs. So it's "depleted" of the full lethal dose that reactor fuel has, sure, but that hardly means it's not highly radioactive.
Maybe we shouldn't let them get away with the term "depleted" at all -- call it Slightly Diminished Uranium or something.
I'm not sure when the first use was in combat, although I have heard that it was the Gulf War, where millions (tens of millions?) of rounds were fired. Good enough for a good epidemiological experiment, if the research effort is made, especially in the first few decades while the most affected people are dying the fastest. Of course, America certainly isn't funding that effort. But 100 years from now the Radiation Protection Committees will probably look back and say there was a clear lack of evidence of D.U.'s hazards in the Gulf War. Unless of course, Allied Forces vets can prove otherwise.
However, in any case it should be noted that the U.S. military has been designing and testing and training with Depleted Uranium for at least four decades, as is made clear by looking at the dates of the articles quoted below. The earliest reference is 1978, 33 years ago. I'm sure I can find earlier ones if I give it some more effort. The use of D. U. as a weapon was premeditated barbarism, folks, there was nothing "new" about it.
1) Several previous Comments on D.U. by this author
2) Email from DSNurse on Downwinders forum
>>>>> CLIPS FROM STOP CASSINI NEWSLETTER #245 (1999): >>>>>
It flies straight because it's 1.7 times heavier than lead. It drives deep into steel (because it's HARD -- and because it's 1.7 times heavier than lead). It even drives deep into Depleted Uranium Armor. Once inside it shatters into sparky shrapnel. Helluva weapon. Once pulverized, it damages skin, eyes and lungs, and causes long-term health effects including cancers, leukemias, birth defects, and a host of additional health problems related to chemical intolerances in humans and other animals. A helluva weapon...The fact is, in the Dark Ages, armies used to throw plague-infested bodies over the walls of besieged cities. No doubt, the guys who kept coming up with better and better delivery systems for this weapon were considered vital, honorable assets worthy of special treatment.
"Chop it into small pieces so they scatter!" "Aim it at the wells to poison their water supply!" "Aim it at the fields to poison their food!" "Aim it at the houses to poison the next generation of warriors!"
END OF CLIPS FROM STOP CASSINI NEWSLETTER #245 <<<<<
>>>>> CLIPS FROM STOP CASSINI NEWSLETTER #51 (1997): >>>>>
[ The author is grateful to Pamela Blockey-O'Brien for the information presented in newsletter #51 -- rdh ]
Uses of Depleted Uranium
by Paul Loewenstein,
Vice-President and Technical Director of Nuclear Metals Inc. Nuclear Metals Inc. is one of the largest users of
Depleted Uranium which they get free from the Department of Energy.
The following quote is part of Appendix 9 which was excerpted from Metals Handbook, 1989, ISBN: 0871-700077 Volume 1, Industrial Uses of Depleted Uranium, American Society for Metals, and was reprinted on pages 135 - 141 of "Uranium Battlefields Home and Abroad: Depleted Uranium Use by the U.S. Department of Defense" March 1993. Published by Citizen Alert and Rural Alliance for Military Accountability.
"There are three principal nonnuclear uses of Depleted Uranium. Radiation shielding; counterweights in airplanes, helicopters, and missiles; and armor piercing projectiles for military ordinance..."
It continues, in a section titled "Special Applications":
"Counterweights are used in aerodynamic control devices of airplanes, missiles, and helicopters to maintain the center of gravity when such devices are moved. Counterweights frequently are complex in shape to fit control surface contours.
High density is important in order to keep the counterweight small compared to the control surface. Depleted Uranium is well suited for this application, and uranium counterweights have been used in many civilian and military aircraft. For example, 1,500 kg of uranium counterweights are used in each Boeing 747."
Regarding other uses, "Uranium Battlefields Home and Abroad" states: "Development of Depleted Uranium armor began in the 1970's, at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico." (Page 16.)
Appendix 8 in the book is a copy of the materials safety data sheet by the United States Department of Labor, OSHA, which points out what the base metals are in Depleted Uranium:
These conflict somewhat with the values given by the U.S. Army: 0.0005% U-234, 0.25% U-235, and 99.75% U-238. Source: "U.S. Army Guidelines for Safe Response to Handling, Storage, and Transportation Accidents Involving Army Tank Munitions or Armor which Contain Depleted Uranium." In the section "Health Hazards Data", the Materials Safety Data Sheet from the U.S. Department of Labor/OSHA says this about Depleted Uranium: "Increased risk of lung carcinoma and chemical toxicity to kidney. Hazardous decomposition products...Decay products of U-238, U-235, and U-234 are radioactive also."
Sites where they have used Depleted Uranium for testing are considered radioactive sites for purposes of cleanup. These include (other than the Gulf War zone) locations across the nation. One of them is the Nuclear Metals Inc. manufacturing site in Concord, Massachusetts. Another is at the Jefferson Proving Grounds, Madison, IN where the U.S. Army has acknowledged that "the low level radioactivity [of Depleted Uranium] poses an environmental concern." Source: Draft Environmental Impact Statement, April 1991, U.S. Army, titled "Closure of Jefferson Proving Grounds in Indiana and Realignment to Yuma Proving Ground, AZ." Note that "over 60,000 kilos of Depleted Uranium penetrators were fired."
Source: Indiana Department of Environmental Management, report to the Governor. U.S. Army Jefferson Proving Ground evaluation. April 20th, 1988.
[ The next clip from newsletter #51 was from a outgoing letter, also written with the help of Pamela Blockey O'Brien -- rdh ]
In an article in the Atlanta Constitution, March 12th, 1978 titled "Pentagon Will Use Depleted Uranium for Making Armor Piercing Bullets," Joseph Albright, Atlanta Journal Constitution Washington Bureau wrote:
"Depleted Uranium is a weak source of radioactivity, but that is not why it is being used in bullets. Its chief advantage is that it is extremely heavy and cheap... A soldier inside an army tank armed with uranium bullets will be exposed to as much as 2/10ths of a millirem of gamma radiation every hour, according to Darwin Taras, an Army expert on Depleted Uranium weapons. A Food and Drug Administration radiation authority said that at this millirem dosage tank crews will receive the equivalent of one well-administered Chest X-ray every 20 to 30 hours. This dosage is permissible but not desirable under current radiological health standards for civilians, according to a half dozen radiation experts outside the Pentagon."
[Since the time that article came out in 1978] the permissible dose rate has been lowered, and lowered, and lowered...
Also in 1978, then-Senator Bob Dole delivered remarks on the Senate floor deploring the use of the material. Among his comments were: "They [the Pentagon] seems to have chosen this material for bullets because Uranium metal is dense, and because Depleted Uranium is cheap. Needless to say, I find this proposal shocking..."
By the way, D.U. as it's referred to in the military "biz" has a half-life of 4.5 billion years. Uranium decays by alpha particle emission, however the daughter products which are formed during the decay emit alpha, beta, and gamma radiation.
END CLIPS FROM NEWSLETTER # 51 <<<<<
Sun, 29 Jul 2001 13:57:52 EDT
Subject: [downwinders] read---great people i have met--thanks
Shimbun Series--Discounted Casulties--The Human Cost of DU