L'Osservatorio Etico Ambientale fa uno scoop:
1988, Germania, un A-10 al DU cade a Remscheid (12 aprile 2000)

Se si vogliono vedere le conseguenze dell'uranio impoverito, basta andare a Remscheid dove nel 1988 un A-10 si perse nella nebbia, cadde su un centro abitato incendiando decine di case. Sei persone morirono subito...

Riportiamo sotto per intero l'articolo dal Los Angeles Times con evidenziata la parte interessante.

Nota di colore: Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen (1845-1923),  lo scopritore dei raggi X, nacque proprio a Lennep (oggi: Remscheid).

[Aggiornamento, servizio TV in Germania, 14 gennaio 2001: Die Todesstraße von Remscheid - Verdacht auf Uranverseuchung zwölf Jahre nach Flugzeugabsturz Vorschau zum SPIEGEL TV Magazin am Sonntag, 14. Januar, 22.10 - 23.00 Uhr, RTL]

Los Angeles Times
Tolerance Is Low for Low-Flight Training Around the World Afflicted Residents are Complaining about Risks of Aerial Maneuvers.
Italian gondola accident is latest example of how it takes a tragedy to prompt action.

By RICHARD BOUDREAUX, Times Staff Writer
Los Angeles Times
Monday, February 23, 1998

PREV[C] AVALESE, Italy--On the floor of the snow-covered Val di Fiemme, cordoned off by orange tape, lies the wreckage of a yellow ski-lift gondola. The blue sky is silent, free of the warplanes that roared back for decades at complaining inhabitants of the Alps.

Unmoved from the spot where it crashed and killed 20 people, the gondola is a grim monument to a global hazard: low-altitude training by military pilots. The silence represents a costly victory by the ground forces of civilian opposition to the practice.

Italy has banned low flying since the Feb. 3 accident, caused by a U.S. Marine Prowler jet that severed the gondola's suspension cables. The reaction fits two post-ColdWar patterns: Warnings are often ignored until there's tragedy. And, little by little, tolerance and space for this training are dwindling.

Air forces conduct low-altitude training to perfect a variety of wartime maneuvers, such as evading enemy radar. Because they usually practice over rural areas, relatively few people around the world experience the random thunder of low-flying fighter jets--a sensation one Japanese environmentalist compares to "a huge iron rock jumping into the window."

But scattered protests--sometimes aimed at U.S. pilots--against such noise and fright are growing louder. The ceiling for effective low-altitude training is defined by most military experts as 500 feet above the ground. Italy's decision to double its minimum flying altitude to 1,000 feet, at least temporarily, has encouraged activists in other countries who contend that the low minimums are inherently unsafe and often violated.

A combination of military accidents and civilian activism earlier forced Germany to all but stop low-altitude flying. The practice survives amid controversy in Belgium, England, Canada and the United States, as well as near U.S. air bases in South Korea and Japan.

Low flying by Singapore's air force draws protests from neighboring Malaysia. Warplanes conduct what one officer calls "hedge-hopping" training flights over Russia, but the country's vast territory and its tradition of valuing military might over civilian comfort deter public objections.

China's powerful air force faces no grass-roots restraints; the uproar is limited to more democratic environs under crowded skies. Training pilots to sneak low under Soviet radar was a North Atlantic Treaty Organization priority throughout the Cold War, when the allies' jet noise was justified in Western Europe as "the sound of freedom." The training has since been scaled back but not abandoned--despite questions about its value for today's conflicts. No one doubts that it's a harder sell. "The sound of freedom," says Winfried Nachtweih, an environmentalist in the German Parliament, is now more often perceived as "terror from the air." "With the white-hot Soviet threat gone, it's harder and harder for military establishments around the world, not just ours, to convince their people that this sort of training is still needed," says Benjamin Lambeth, a specialist in air power issues at Rand Corp in Santa Monica. "Finding places to do it . . . is going to be a continuing problem for military leaders."

Low-Flight Accident Not Without Precedent

Italians have long protested in vain about NATO flights roaring at eye level past their mountainside villages, especially after such flying was stepped up to support NATO operations in war-torn Bosnia-Herzegovina. Some offending flights came from Aviano, the expanding U.S. base in northeastern Italy, but many were Italian.

Mauro Gilmozzi, the mayor of Cavalese, says that villagers reported four incidents of unidentified warplanes hitting ski-lift cables in the Alpine region between 1990 and 1997, and two incidents of others flying under the cables in Cavalese in the 1980s. No casualties resulted, but the lack of explanations from higher authorities disturbed him. So did a letter the Italian air force sent last year to a Cavalese resident admitting that its pilots often dip below the minimum altitude while "flying blind"--without navigational instruments. The letter insisted that such training was safe and in the interest of national defense. "At least 100 people from our village have telephoned the authorities about antennas knocked off their roofs, windows broken, babies awakened, old folks frightened," the mayor said in an interview.

"I've called the Italian air force four or five times myself. In the end, I concluded there is nothing a small village can do when it's the very state that plans these flights." Similar protests came from other villages dotting the mountains, but they were never coordinated and rarely got beyond the regional air force command.

The Defense Ministry in Rome says it has had just 20 complaints from the Alps in the past three years; of those, five involving U.S. aircraft were passed on to Aviano, but U.S. officials there denied any altitude violations--until the Prowler cut the gondola cables about 300 feet above the ground. 'A Blood Sacrifice Paid by All of Europe' Still shaken two weeks after the disaster--which killed tourists from Austria, Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland--Gilmozzi said it took "a blood sacrifice paid by all of Europe" to get authorities to "move these planes away from our heads."

The Prowler's four Marine crewmen are suspended from flying while a joint U.S.-Italian military investigation decides whether they or their commanding officers should face court-martial. Under a U.S.-Italian treaty, any trial must take place in the United States, but Italian civilian authorities have asked for a waiver so they can prosecute the case.

Germany suffered its own pivotal disaster in 1988, when a U.S. Air Force antitank jet became lost in the fog during low-altitude training and crashed in Remscheid, setting dozens of homes afire and killing the pilot and six people on the ground. The accident capped a long series of Cold War crashes, involving 253 of the German air force's 916 F-104 Starfighters, that stirred West Germans to the most effective lobbying anywhere against low military flights. Two years later, the flights were sharply restricted by law. Belgium and the Netherlands followed suit.

Today, Germany permits flying between 246 and 984 feet above the ground in seven special zones, but each flight is limited to 40 seconds in that range. Mobile "Skyguard" radar stations catch violators, and civilians can report them on an air force hotline. Two years ago, the air force sought an exemption from the limits to test a new engine for its Tornado fighter jet over Bavaria, but it met stiff resistance from the tourism-minded state government; instead of 25 10-minute test runs, it got nine. "In vast areas of Germany that suffered a lot in the past, [low flying] is now a marginal problem," says Nachtweih, a former Luftwaffe pilot who is pressing Parliament for a total ban. "Pilots [in the Cold War] loved to tell stories about how they had flown under bridges. If a pilot risked such a thing today, he would be severely punished."

Germany has moved most of its low-altitude training to Canada's Goose Bay air base in Labrador and the United States' Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico under agreements with the two nations. "Because low flying is so unpopular in Europe, there's a tendency to dump it on less populated areas," complains Grace Potorti of Reno, Nev., whose Rural Alliance for Military Accountability has fought the use of such training in the United States for 13 years.

In the U.S., the Federal Aviation Administration allows low-altitude military training in thousands of miles of rural air corridors far from air bases, mainly in the West. From Goose Bay, German, British, Dutch and Canadian pilots conduct 7,000 low-level training flights a year under NATO auspices, infuriating native people who claim that the noise disrupts migratory patterns of the caribou they hunt in Labrador and northern Quebec. The Canadian government overruled their objections and agreed in 1996 to allow even more flights.

Britain's Royal Air Force pilots are well experienced at low flying and have managed to continue extensive training at home--despite 6,000 complaints a year from 4,000 different households, according to the Defense Ministry. Only over the Isle of Man off England's west coast have protesters won a ban on low flying. In the wake of the Italian accident, Bernard Moffatt, president of the Celtic League on the island, is demanding a nationwide ban. "It is only by a fortunate coincidence," he warns, "that serious tragedy . . . has been avoided so far" in Britain.

In Britain's permissive skies, where U.S. Air Force pilots also train, flying is allowed as low as 250 feet over most of the country and 100 feet over three sparsely settled areas of central Wales, the Scottish Highlands and the Scottish Borders. "Those areas are quite conservative," says Malcolm Spaven, a defense environmental consultant in Edinburgh, Scotland, who sees little pressure for a ban. "They're mostly prosperous farmers. The biggest impact you can point to in practical terms is the livestock, and farmers are quite handsomely compensated for damage." Last year, the RAF accepted responsibility for the deaths of six of the 6 million lambs born in Britain. But it rejected claims by a group in Wales, Freedom of the Skies, that jet noise has damaged the hearing of rural children in the low-flight zone there.

Civilians who feel threatened by loud or hazardous air maneuvers fight back in bureaucracies and courtrooms with mixed results.

     * In June 1995, an autistic teenager, Frank Sey, heard the roar of a Belgian Air
     Force F-16 jet over his village near Ghent and tore out his hearing aids. Not
     only did the boy refuse to wear them again, his father told a court, but he
     became hysterical at the sight of them, thinking that they were the source of the
     noise. After two years of arguments, an appeals court last fall obliged the air
     force to stop its flights over the village.

     * In August 1995, another low-flying F-16 scared a horse in northeastern
     Japan, causing it to throw a riding student, who broke her thoracic vertebrae.
     The U.S. Air Force first denied responsibility, then agreed to pay the
     40-year-old woman $56,100 in damages after Japanese authorities turned up a
     videotape of her fall and ruled that the noise came from an F-16.

     * Near Seoul, 3,500 South Korean villagers are suing for $6,250 apiece in
     compensation for damage caused by pollution and practice bombs from
     low-flying U.S. Air Force jets. They decided to go to court after Korean
     authorities sided with the United States against demands that a U.S. airfield be
     moved away from their rice paddies and fish farms.

     * In Japan, citizens are also petitioning to ban annual acrobatic maneuvers by
     the U.S. Navy around Yamato and are suing to restrict U.S. Air Force flights
     over Okinawa. The Okinawa suit by 907 people claims that noise pollution
     causes hearing loss and underweight babies. "We cannot even talk on the
     phone" when a U.S. warplane goes by, Tamotsu Suzuki, 72, a veteran
     Japanese anti-noise activist, said in a phone interview. "How can I talk on the
     phone today? Because they've gone to Iraq!" Japan usually backs the U.S.
     military in these disputes, but the protests have spread lately from individuals
     and small communities to the civilian pilots union. The pilots warn that U.S.
     warplanes, which average three low-altitude training missions over Japan each
     day, fly dangerously close to civilian aircraft. They are demanding restrictions.

Complaints Give U.S. Pilots a Bad Image The frequency of complaints about U.S. military pilots around the world has given them a reckless "Top Gun" image that the disaster in Italy only enhanced. American pilots and others insist that image is unfair. "The uninitiated will see a jet smoking by at 500 knots, 100 or 200 feet off the ground, and think the crew's up there just having a good time. In fact, they're incredibly concentrated," says Lambeth, the Rand specialist. "My experience in 20 years of observing American air crews is that they are very sensitive to avoiding situations where they might frighten people on the ground. But sometimes, it's just impossible."

Don Maciejewski, a retired U.S. Air Force fighter pilot who served in much of the world, says there are careful pilots and careless pilots, but he faults the Pentagon for what he calls a "blood priority" attitude toward low-flight hazards. "It's like, well, we'll go on with our training, and if and when something goes wrong, then we'll react," says Maciejewski, now a lawyer in Jacksonville, Fla. "That's not a deterrent mentality. I'd like to see the military move toward one in peacetime, but too few commanders want to be bothered."

Another Pentagon critic, retired Rear Adm. Eugene J. Carroll of the Center for Defense Information in Washington, wants to eliminate the danger of low-altitude training by ending the practice, which he contends is no longer vital for post-Cold War conflicts.

Pentagon officials argue that pilots need to prepare for situations in which they must drop bombs at low altitudes, maneuver low in battles with other aircraft and evade surface-to-air missiles. They note that Iraq and North Korea, among others, have air defense radar against which low flying is valuable. One official acknowledged that the Pentagon has faced a gradually tougher time finding places to conduct this training. "So far, we've been getting by with what we've needed. But it's been a delicate situation," he said, adding that the gondola crash "is going to make everybody just that much more wary."

Contributing to this article were Times staff writers Mary Williams Walsh in Berlin, William D. Montalbano in London, Sonni Efron in Tokyo, Carol J. Williams in Moscow and Paul Richter in Washington; and Times researchers Christian Retzlaff in Berlin, Reane Oppl in Bonn, Janet Stobart in London, Chi Jung Nam in Seoul, Andrew Van Velzen in Toronto and Etsuko Kawase in Japan. Search the archives of the Los Angeles Times for similar stories. You will not be charged to look for stories, only to retrieve one.

Altri articoli sull'incidente:

Perilous Skies
By J. Zane Walley

Germany outlawed low-level flying in 1990. A combination of military accidents and civilian activism forced Germany to all but stop low-altitude flying. "The sound of freedom," says Winfried Nachtweih, of the German Parliament, "is now more often perceived as terror from the air." The country suffered a pivotal disaster in 1988, when a U.S. Air Force anti-tank jet became lost in the fog during low-altitude training and crashed in Remscheid, setting dozens of homes afire and killing the pilot and six people on the ground. The accident capped a long series of German Air Force catastrophes beginning with the 36 percent crash rate for Republic F-84F Thunderstreaks and an almost 30 percent loss of the Starfighter.

Aircraft fire is poisoning
An Aircraft crashed down and burned in Amsterdam between a settlement. Same was in Remscheid, Germany with a smaller Fighting-Jet. Mrs. Wolf of BUND in Remscheid is involved to this. Same is Buendnis 90/Die Gruenen im Landtag NRW, Landtagsgebaude, Duesseldorf and MURL NRW (now Baerbel Hoehn of B`90/Gruene).