Depleted Uranium is Not Renewable Energy

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Today, "Everything is for sale" is neither a euphemism nor much of an understatement," which one may view as a promotion of efficiency, as in, "My Lord! We can make fuel out of sh**; now that's a natural gas." Diesel Fuel, as noted in the film "Fuel" that we reviewed a while back, was waste for the first decades of the oil era, until Rudolph Diesel invented his famous engine.

Coal usage byproducts have induced an entire meta-industry of CUB products reputed to be environmentally safe. Our roads consist of stuff once noxious and impossible to get rid of(www.eurobitume.org/bitumen/what-bitumen). Mineral oil, Portland cement, and a likely practically innumerable list of materials of some prominence in the world today emanates from waste.

25_cylinder_leakEntire sectors of the economy study and look for the next big breakthrough in this fashion, "turning waste into profit." And, on the surface, who could argue with such a formulation. Today's story, however, concerns just such a situation gone horribly awry, from one perspective, and originating as a 'bad seed,' from Jimbo's perspective.

Shakespeare, ever the chronicler of the darker reaches of the human heart, warned us against relying on a product, born in iniquity, like Deplete Uranium. "Heat not a furnace for your foe so hot that it do singe yourself," he said, as if anticipating the tens of thousands of veterans currently afflicted with all manner of chronic and acute ailments about which our leaders seem bound and determined to evade responsibility.

Of course, these estimable men, including if one is inclined to be generous such stalwart warriors who never served in the military as Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, but who now count as their Supreme Commander Barack-the-Magnificent himself, do not see things as I do. They state without equivocation that I, and those who think like I do, 'lack proof.' And that is true.

However, when one is dealing with reality, in which absolute certainty is always a very expensive and quite often an impossible proposition, one has to admit that evidence is more important than dispositive demonstration. And circumstantially, materially, factually, and in terms of testimony, the evidence is overwhelming that Depleted Uranium has caused a snake pit full of death and pain both among our own troops and among the peoples of Southwest Asia.

This article will be the first of three to support this assertion. The next will go more deeply into the science of the matter, as well as exploring more thoroughly the political economy of Uranium in our United States. The third will be a joined review of two films about the issue.

Secrecy is ever the defense of the defensive perpetrator in a position of authority. Now, many folks tell us that secrecy is a crucial part of sound administrative practice, despite the massive literature and legislation calling for "Government in the Sunshine" and so on. Of course, increasing numbers of meetings concerning such matters as energy and war seem to qualify for exemptions since slightly prior to nine years ago today.

In an article entitled "Don't Lock the Laboratory Door," Harper's Magazine 62 years ago noted the pernicious results of a creeping secrecy, which the nuclear industry--a swampy cesspool of which we explore today, seems ever to promote.

   

"One of the crucial experiments concerning the nature of the meson was carried out by a young Italian in Rome just after its liberation. This young man is now in this country, but he of course cannot be "cleared" to work on atomic research of military importance. The most exciting experiment in nuclear physics this year was the creation of mesons by the huge Berkeley cyclatron, a collaborative experiment carried out by a Brazilian and an American. If it Should turn out that the results have military value the Brazilian would then and there be disbarred from continuing .... At present no adequate course in nuclear engineering can be taught at a university; the material is too secret. Courses are given to properly cleared people at the various atomic energy laboratories, but this is a poor substitute for the well integrated course which a university could give. Besides, how is one to attract the best minds if one cannot tell them what it's all about until they commit themselves?"

Just days prior to the dance of doom that led to the melting down of a reactor at Three Mile Island, where I have had the rough fortune to document decades of secrecy and deceit, the Federal Courts of the United States prohibited Howard Morland and Progressive Magazine from publishing "The H-bomb Secret," which contained nothing more offensive than a clever boobie with a set of Brittanica's could come up with--I say this because a DOE opponent in a debate threatened me with prison if I passed around a napkin on which I had sketched out such a WMD.

25-protest-signThe editors were willing to 'go to the wall' to defend the notion of free speech, an abrogation of the notion that secrecy is good for us, of course. "We we were prepared to throw all of our resources into the fight and to find resources that we didn't even know existed. We were resolved, of course, to protect and preserve this magazine. But we were prepared, if necessary, to sacrifice even the Progressive itself for the principle at stake."

Should those of us at JustMeans pay heed to this, nine years after events that led to Patriot Acts that eviscerate such patriotism as the First Amendment? I'm not sure what folks would say, but I'll stick with the editors just above, whatever my frequent quibbles with the insights of their politics.

And this is apt, inasmuch as the final issue here, before we begin, concerns an apparent epidemic of 'grassroots' efforts to destroy honest investigation. Several 'trolls' haunt this issue of Depleted Uranium on many occasions when it appears on the web. Character assassination, insults, and threats replace argument. Quibbling, distortion, lies, and every version of bait and switch and distraction created since sophistry became popular come forth from the bags of tricks that these tricksters employ.

They say things like this: "None of them are sick from DU; they just think that there is gold in uranium and people like you push the lies rather than dig out the truth. None of them are sick from DU; they just think that there is gold in uranium and people like you push the lies rather than dig out the truth."

And they articulate such as this:

"Your mockumentary needs to consigned to the same dung heap that Beyond Treason should have been before; now that their Neo Nazi connection has been exposed, maybe it will truly get the praise it deserves, none! I also have friends searching for the Your mocumentary needs to consigned to the same dung heap that Beyond Treason should have been before; now that their Neo Nazi connection has been exposed, maybe it will truly get the praise it deserves, none!"

But they also make substantive claims, most of which are disingenuous, misleading, or merely false, though a fair amount of what they do, typical of this sort of interloper, is to pick out the small errors so as to deflect attention from the larger argument. I am hopeful that this will not be an issue here on JustMeans. And I am confident that readers here no fallacy when they see it, here it, and watch it in motion.

INTRODUCTION

25-iraq-projThe soldiers from our nation who have died from enemy fire, from 'friendly fire,' from explosions that ripped them to pieces or crushed their organs like pulped fruit, from mortar fire that defenestrated or disarticulated them, and by beheading, have touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens personally, forming almost an antithesis to the notion of renewable energy: lifelong grief.

The brutal costs of war add up even though, as such things work out, the loss of American life has been 'minimal,' or though they will not say so outright, even at the most alienated and arcane policy level, to our leaders, 'acceptable.' This noisome notion so discomfits me that I can't see straight, but I feel in my gut that Donald Rumsfeld and the other architects of the war in Iraq truly believe such 'cost/benefit' assessments to be defensible.

Of course, when citizens here can consider the harsh realities of 'our' two recent incursions into Iraq, we must acknowledge that a vastly, monstrously greater human cost has attended this war among civilians who not only did absolutely nothing to incur the harms that befell them but also whose 'interests' we used to justify the invasion in the first place. A significant proportion of this damage has resulted, almost certainly, from depleted Uranium (DU) weapons.

The massive controversy about this subject--what are the harms that have resulted from DU usage in weaponry, has led to all sorts of brouhaha, both on the web and in person, about which a separate post is forthcoming, which will also examine more closely the political economy and safety issues that today's article touches only briefly. This post will make clear that the evidence overwhelmingly supports a link between DU and grotesque health problems.

However, certifying proof from that evidence is thus far impossible, about which the second article will go into detail. A crucial point in this regard, one that citizens must comprehend in a wide array of situations involving their well-being and choices, concerns the necessary grounds for scientific proof.
As one commentator expressed the matter,

"The DOD asserts that:
1. There is no scientific evidence of any increased health risks from exposure to Depleted Uranium, including cancer and leukemia.
2. Depleted Uranium was not a problem in the Persian Gulf War and is not a potential hazard in the Balkans, except under very limited circumstances.

Nonetheless, a review of the available research literature funded by the DOD and VA reveals clear gaps in defining the long-term effects of DU once it is introduced into the human body. The Pentagon's view that there is no need for concern because "uranium is all around us" is counter to what is slowly emerging from independent laboratory studies."

Even more pertinent, if one thinks about this sort of issue, so common in matters of energy and sustainable business, is that one faces a double bind in confronting this sort of defense. On the one hand, only the gatekeepers have the wherewithal to fund and undertake the necessary difficult, large-sample, and complicated investigation. On the other hand, they say, 'well you don't got no proof son, so what're ya worried about?'

To say the least, this is maddening. As the above writer continues, "The clearest research-based literature is currently coming from the non-government affiliated Uranium Medical Research Center in Canada. One of the chief researchers, Asaf Durakovic, a former professor of Nuclear Medicine at Georgetown University and former head of the U.S. Army's Veterans' Affairs facility in Delaware, Maryland, reported his assay results on Gulf and Balkan War Veterans at the European Associates of Nuclear Medicine. His findings reveal high DU levels in urine and bone samples in GWV ten years after the war. He further postulates that a significant portion of the ill-defined Gulf War Syndrome is related to DU radiation and/or toxicity. Dr. Durakovic is critical of the DOD and British Ministry of Defense because they have consistently refused to test Gulf War Veterans for DU. There are many medical clues that appear to be "untouchable" for DOD and VA funded research. Further, all research that is not under the direct control of DOD and VA is labeled 'unreliable.'"

In response, perhaps citizens need to bring some common sense to these issues. Obviously, science cannot be a majority rule proposition. The minority is often right about matters of fact and analysis. But just as clearly, when copious data are available suggesting that a certain interpretation of the facts is quite probable, then the only way that the powers-that-be can cry 'no proof!' as a defense is if they finance and organized an independent project to provide the proof necessary.

The key here is independence; as Steve Wing and a whole slough of researchers whom I mentioned yesterday, much like Dr. Rokke whom we will meet today, will remonstrate, when a government scientist's results don't match the administrative agenda, the bureaucratic response is quite often a pink slip or a swift boot.

TECHNICAL AND HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

This portion of this piece is of necessity brief. Essentially, the 'depletion' in DU is the process of U-235, which is more easily fissionable than the vastly more common U-238, actually splitting and hence reducing its presence in the overall composition of the metal.

This reduction in useful energy content is unavoidable, and it for many years resulted in a significant volume of waste, which the Atomic Energy Commission and then the Department of Energy (DOE) stored at sites around the country. Because of the acknowledged toxicity of DU, not so much radiation risk as chemical dangers, the necessity of long term warehousing would necessarily involve substantial costs.

25-30mm_du_slugAs we've seen, capitalists always see 'waste' as an opportunity to create a new product, and the density and penetrating potential of Uranium eventually led to the notion of hardening larger bullets and some cannon ordnance with DU in order to increase such attributes as its armor-piercing potential. The process of crea.ting these super sticker shells took nearly twenty years.A well-documented and accessible online history of DU, by a nuclear fusion PhD, summarizes the history of DU armaments. "In the early 1970's, the US Army began researching the use of depleted uranium metal in kinetic energy penetrators... . DU was ultimately selected due to its availability and pyrophoricity. While 50% of tungsten has to be imported, mainly from China, DU is provided for free to arms manufacturers. (Also) a tungsten projectile becomes blunt on impact and is less effective in piercing armor."

This 'effectiveness' in piercing, and no doubt the fact that supplies for shells was free, led to the expenditure of over 1.2 million pounds of such munitions in Gulf War One. That prolific dispersal of toxins was less likely, though no one that I uncovered would say just how much so, in Operation Iraqi Liberation--darn, I mean freedom, I always forget about the name change. At least a quarter million pounds of shells of various sorts, and perhaps more, were deployed between 2003 and 2010.

Vladimir Zajic, a mathematics and physics wizard, orients folks to the upshot of a 20mm to 105mm cannon shell ripping through a few inches of steel and vaporizing as it explodes.

"DU is hardened by reduction of the carbon content and by alloying with ... titanium. The aluminum sabot of a DU tank round drops off within the first 100 m of the trajectory and the bare DU projectile then moves with (a) velocity (of) 1.5 km/sec. (The s)urface of a DU penetrator ignites on impact (especially with steel), partially liquefies due to the high temperature generated by the impact and relatively low melting point of uranium (1132ºC), and the projectile sharpens as it melts and pierces the heavy armor. Depleted uranium impacts are often characterized by a small, round entry hole. If the penetrator goes through the target, the exit hole is also round and slightly larger than the entry hole. For example, 30 mm DU rounds from GAU-8A automatic cannon mounted on A-10 Warthog aircraft can pierce steel armor up to 9 cm (3.5 in.) thick."

25-oxidoZajic continues, in the chilling cadences of a Dr. Strangelove, "When a depleted uranium penetrator impacts armor, 18 - 70% of the penetrator rod will burn and oxidize into dust usually of dull black color, though it may also appear blackish-gold or blackish-green. Of the two uranium oxides formed, UO2 is not soluble in water and UO3 is water soluble.. .. The DU oxide aerosol formed during the impact has 50 - 96% of respirable size particles (with diameter less than 10 µm), and 17 - 48% of those particles are soluble in water. Particles generated from impact of a hard target are virtually all respirable. While the heavier non-respirable particles settle down rapidly, the respirable DU aerosol remains airborne for hours. The solubility of the uranium particles determines the rate at which the uranium moves from the site of internalization (lungs for inhalation, gastrointestinal tract for ingestion, or the injury site for wound contamination) into the blood stream. About 70% of the soluble uranium in the blood stream is excreted in urine within 24 hours without being deposited in any organ and the remainder primarily depositing in the kidneys and bones. The kidney is the organ most sensitive to depleted uranium toxicity. When DU particles of respirable size are inhaled, roughly 25% of the particles become trapped in the lungs, where the insoluble particles can remain for years. Approximately 25% of the inhaled DU is exhaled and the remaining 50% is subsequently swallowed."

If this sounds like fun to anybody, he's a sick puppy. The Armed Forces Institute for Pathology speaks to one result of a million and a half pounds or so of DU dust inhaled, absorbed, or deposited over the course of fifteen years in Iraq. "DU is a byproduct of the uranium enrichment process which is used in the production of nuclear fuel in power plants. ...Biological internal uranium exposure has been studied for many years in uranium miners. Urine uranium levels have been historically used to monitor occupations at risk to uranium exposure. In the past 10 years, concerns of occupational and environmental exposure to depleted uranium (DU) used in military and peacekeeping settings have gained intense interest. Therefore, techniques are needed to distinguish between exposure to uranium naturally occurring in the environment and to DU."

That 'techniques are needed' is obvious. That, forty years after secretly implementing a technology about which our leaders have consistently, as we will see today and in the next installment, tried to cover up, the 'need' for ways of measuring harm is not the issue. Instead that 'need,' in any sort of honest legal process, would amount to proof of the noxious effect that authorities have attempted to conceal.

Our friendly Czech, he of the scientific legerdemain, notes that

"(t)he use of DU shells by US forces in the 1991 Gulf War was publicly uncovered by Dr. Siegwart-Horst Guenther, a German scientist and Professor of Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology at Baghdad University. In July 1992, Dr. Guenther brought back to Germany a DU shell he had found in Iraq. The projectile was seized by German police in protective clothing and sealed in a lead container. He was charged with illegally releasing ionizing radiation and the Berlin court fined him in 1993 for violating the Atomic Energy Law. The Iraqis learned about the use of depleted uranium from foreign press at the end of 1992. "

AN EVERLASTING PROBLEM

Brent Scowcroft, National Security Advisor to President George Bush in the 1991 Gulf War, gives credence to what our leaders' attempts to hide implies. "Depleted uranium is more of a problem than we thought when it was developed. But it was developed according to standards and was thought through very carefully. It turned out, perhaps, to be wrong."

The half life of Uranium varies, depending on the isotope; however, we can expect some of the toxins to be with us for several hundred million years at the least. This long-lasting and nasty metal, which has a propensity to ignite in the atmosphere and aerosolize when it burns, and cause all sorts of chemical mayhem even if its radiation does not wreak havoc, remains the armor-destroying modality of the Department of Defense still.

The Environmental Protection Agency's 2006 "Technical Brief" is a masterpiece of clear-as-glass technical perfection, in indicating possible issues and actions, and of complete obfuscation in regard to offering any insight into ongoing research, data necessary to generate, or any sense of controversy on this issue. This is exactly the sort of dead end document that I was saying yesterday we needed to balance if we wanted more than vacuous nods to characterize our insights.

The Government Accounting Office, relying exclusively on two Pentagon and DOE supported studies, is even worse. GAO admits that, "The scientific understanding of depleted uranium’s effect on health is still evolving. Because depleted uranium is a low-level radioactive heavy metal, the potential for health effects are twofold: effects from radiation and effects from chemical toxicity."

Yet it goes on to ignore the mountains of evidence at home and the copious analysis among public health practitioners and voluminous evidence in Iraq and Europe that a more open-minded approach is necessary. We will go more deeply into this next trip round the track on this issue, but one can rest assured that every single agency of the United States Government, at least in its accessible public presentation, follows this line of most resistance in stating that the vast and growing outcry against DU injustice should all just 'go away and shut up.'

If one looks, one finds small voices such as this: "Teratogenicity of Depleted Uranium Aerosols," from a juried public health journal, that states simply, "Thoughtful triangulation of the results of multiple studies (epidemiological and other) of DU teratogenicity contributes to disentangling the roles of various potentially teratogenic parental exposures. This paper is just such an endeavor," moreover one that findsthat "(i)n aggregate the human epidemiological evidence is consistent with increased risk of birth defects in offspring of persons exposed to DU."
25-vaBefore they are born, the children suffer. Writing in Veterans Today Magazine, Denise Nichols is more strident. "(A)t least this study appears to have used actual DU inhalation work. The biggest concern on DU should be on damage done in inhalation and ingestion! Very few soldiers actually had DU shrapnel wounds, the greater number of casualties would have been by inhalation and ingestion…ie the DOHA Fire in Desert Storm and the OIF incident where an ammo dump exploded. We need to look at Trachea, Esophageal, Lung, GI tract, renal damage, Thyroid, Spleen and other radiation sensitive organs. The second study results showed- Spleen hypomethylation occurred during DU-induced leukemogenesis (chronic internal DU exposure). Aberrant gene transcription was also detected. Researchers should be using actual DU inhalation to study actual damage in animal studies that would affected the greater number of casualties."

I don't have the background to state that this is correct, but Public Health experts whom I know do back exactly this sort of intervention, one that is patterned on the actual vectors at hand and does not posit some easily dismissed model that just happens to be easy to implement. Longitudinal, large sample studies, the interventions of which match the parameters of the hypothesized harm have not yet happened at the behest of the government that put these men and women(and civilians) in harms way.

As the saying goes, 'something's got to give.' Ms. Nichols went on to post a few citations, similar to some that I have been collecting for round two of this process. For those with a bent to do some spade work, here are those sources.

*1: Radiat Prot Dosimetry. 2009 Feb;134(1):23-9. Epub 2009 Apr 4. Links
Estimating the lung burden from exposure to aerosols of depleted uranium.Valdés M.

25-storage_yard_far Uranium Medical Research Center, Shawville, Quebec, Canada.
PMID: 19346527

*1: Biochimie. 2009 Mar 25. Links
DNA methylation during depleted uranium-induced leukemia. Miller AC, Stewart M, Rivas R.

Scientific Research Department, Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute (AFRRI), Uniformed Services University, 8901 Wisconsin Ave, Bethesda, MD 20889-5603, USA.

PMID: 19324073

*ReviewA review of the effects of uranium and depleted uranium exposure on reproduction and fetal development. Toxicol Ind Health. 2001 Jun; 17(5-10):180-91.

*Observation of radiation-specific damage in human cells exposed to depleted uranium: dicentric frequency and neoplastic transformation as endpoints. Radiat Prot Dosimetry. 2002; 99(1-4):275-8.

*Physicochemical characterization of Capstone depleted uranium aerosols III: morphologic and chemical oxide analyses. Health Phys. 2009 Mar; 96(3):276-91.

All of these sources provide support for the likely harm of DU, as in this "conclusion" from one abstract. "Epigenetic mechanisms are implicated in DU-induced leukemia. These data are evidence of aberrant DNA hypomethylation being associated with DU leukemogenesis."

25-rokkeFelicity Arbuthnot provides an invaluable investigative service for readers in researching and showing the bona fides of Dr. Doug Rokke, who was in charge of DU cleanup in Iraq for four years, but now that he's turned critic encounters more flak than a B-24 bomber on a run over the oil fields of Ploesti. She calls her article "A dark tale of how the powers-that-be try to discredit those who oppose their world view."

"Rokke has crucial, credible, hands-on knowledge", thus, writes David Lindorff, "the effort to discredit him, label him ‘a fraud’, demote him ... has been vicious and tenacious. This is the same Doug Rokke whose Army evaluation report, dated July 30th 1994, cites the then Captain Rokke as being Project Director and primary technical expert and specialist adviser to US Army major commands, the US Army Chemical School and contractors during training, development and test implementation. In 1995 he was cited for a ‘meritorious service’ medal, for work on DU. He left the army when none of his health warning reached the troops."

Another source contends, "According to official (but unpublicized) U.S. government data, there have been over 70,000 deaths and over 1 million disabilities among U.S. troops as a result of America's wars in the Middle East. The truth is that we have been slowly nuking our own troops and most Americans don't even realize it."

And she continues, "U.S and British troops deployed to the area are the walking dead. Humans and animals, friends and foes in the fallout zone are destined to a long downhill spiral of chronic illness and disability.
Kidney dysfunction, lung damage, bloody stools, extreme fatigue, joint pain, unsteady gait, memory loss and rashes and, ultimately, cancer and premature death await those exposed to DU."

A Canadian science institute's article, "The Most Toxic Battle In Western Military History," demonstrates dispositively, "Although the internal Pentagon Colonel J. Edgar Wakayama briefing on uranium munitions and VA physicians guidelines acknowledges and confirms adverse health and environmental effects (critics) will not admit that and do all (they) can to prevent warriors from obtaining medical care"

A deeper assessment of the science and background here, in radiological and public health terms, is coming. Stay tuned.

SUFFER THE CHILDREN

25-dep-uranium-kid1 Pictures of suffering children represent a classic source of powerful propaganda that frequently comes close to outright dishonesty.  Yet, close to indubitably, the wars that our government instigated, on a hunt for WMD's that never existed, victimizing mainly civilians who had done nothing to hurt our interests, in order to carry out never fully articulated hidden agendas, have deformed and mutilated an entire generation of Iraqis.  Hundreds of thousands have suffered, something like one hundred deaths for every U.S. soldier ripped to shreds, and another several score maimed for every wounded survivor who now nurses pain and grudges here in the States.

    Almost all of the discussion online about this issue concerns the impacts of DU exposure on Veterans.  While the upcoming examination of this issue will dig further into both this matter and the subject of the section at hand, the anomaly of the focus on troops, given the differential harms effected among Iraqi civilians, is especially noteworthy.  Yet a substantial literature, scientifically robust despite the carnage on the ground in our most recent robbing of the 'cradle of civilization,' is emerging.

    One can see veterans articulating that, passionate and seeking to convey their pain and fury honestly, many of them now active in Iraqi Veterans Against the War.  They have connected the dots on the basis of harsh experience and painful witness.  They invite us to listen and learn.

    A Spanish cite presents a portal for several groups of Iraqi physicians and public health practitioners to present their research.  These men and women recognize that they haven't the tools yet, let alone the immense resources necessary to do the testing, follow-up, and other shovel-work essential to prove without doubt that the epidemics of cancers, the tsunamis of birth defects and abortions, the hideous influx of environmental immune symptomology have all resulted from DU and other aspects of the fighting.

   But the title of a recent report, "Further Evidence on Relation between Depleted Uranium, Incidence of Malignancies among Children in Basra, Southern Iraq," by Dr. Alim Yacoup; Dr. Imad Al-Sa’ doun; Dr. Genan G. Hassan, all at
the College of Medicine, Basra University, suggests that they have an important story to tell.  Not only do they speak, but they also share their data, which is rich and deep, given that in their devastated land, not one dime of U.S. support has been forthcoming.

"Information on the incidence of malignancies among children below 15 years of age in Basra, southern Iraq was updated to include 1999 in addition to the already reported for the period 1990-1998. There has been a 100 % rise in the incidence of various forms of leukemia among children in 1999 compared to 1990 while the reported percentage increase 1997 compared to 1990 for the same forms was 60 %.

The corresponding rise for all malignancies among such children in 1999 compared to 1990 was 242 % while the percentage increase in 1997 compared to 1990 was 120 %. The overall incidence rate of all malignancies was 10.1 per 100, 000 of children below 15 years of age compared to 3.98 in 1990 and 7.22 in 1997. During the period from 1993 to 1998 the average annual incidence rate of malignancies among children ranged from 3.1 per 100,000 in Shatt Al-Arab district to 11.8 per 100, 000 in Al-Hartha.

In 1999 the reported rates ranged from 5.3 in Abu-Al-khassib to 13.2 in Al-Zubier district with noticeable increase in such rates in all districts in Basra including Basra center, Qurna, Mudaina and shatt-Al-Arab. The findings reported in 1999 provided further epidemiological evidence that the increased incidence of malignancies among children in Basra is related to exposure to depleted uranium used by the western allies during their aggression on Iraq in 1991."

    That, despite its warlike ardor, the United States worried about its possible liabilities in these matters, is very visible in an article in the Foreign Policy Journal, entitled, "The United States takes the matter of three-headed babies very seriously."  The analysis makes clear the credibility of the charges in regard to DU, and that, thus far, the U.S. response is largely a matter of P.R. and occasional payoffs. 

    We might ponder if that will remain an adequate tactical approach.  We might also consider a longer view of the situation.  We might think back to British Petroleum and Winston Churchill and FDR's cementing of a 'fast friendship' with the House of Saud and so on. 

    We would discover such items as this: "Britain had thoughts of using poisoned gas on Iraq long before 1991: 'I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilized tribes. The moral effect should be good... and it would spread a lively terror...' (Winston Churchill commenting on the British use of poison gas against the Iraqis after the First World War)."'

    If indeed, as Lady MacBeth would have it, "the truth will out," perhaps we ought to think about making amends.  What do the folks here at JustMeans think?

THE WAGES OF SIN AND THE WAGES OF WAR

    Idioms are ever a source of fascination to the likes of me.  "Nuke 'em till they glow" was one from my ROTC days, one which I mouthed for a time, until I learned how to think a bit better.  "Kill 'em all; let God sort it out" never appealed to me, though I can't say why, considering it's no worse than plugging nuclear annihilation."

    More recently, "What goes around, comes around" has been resonating with a bit of heart-thumping resonance in my chest.  I know that my capacity for objectivity will never match the tangible majesty and grotesquerie of existence.  Yet, that very admission inclines me to trust my observations, when I have something to look at.

    And, in relation to this nation's--my country's--decimation of Southwest Asia, I have more than enough to examine.  I feel a chill tingle of responsibility every time my friend's Iraqi husband dines with us.  I think about the fact that I've heard all sorts of rumors about missing Soviet warheads--and what level of infuriated anguish would be necessary to try to use one.

    But mainly I think about soldiers.  I suppose that at heart I'm one.  I had an appointment to West Point that, because I doubted my courage perhaps and definitely because I had developed profound doubts about Vietnam and because I had other attractive offers, I turned down.  But I've always had an affinity for cops and grunts.

    Thus, when I read of what seems like an Army effort of some integrity that pulls up short of honesty, I say, "Damn!" and hope that, 'maybe next time, they'll get it right.'  But I'm not sure; I fear that some truly hard lessons lie ahead.

25-tank   "Stopping DU proliferation starts with recognition of its dangers. The recent technical report Health and Environmental Consequences of Depleted Uranium Use in the U.S. Army external link by the Army Environmental Policy Institute (AEPI) meant to address this issue, but it is a self-contradictory tangle of optimism, omission and occasional bald admissions.  Despite these admissions, it fails to call for adequate measures for controlling and curtailing the use of this deadly substance. Radioactive Battlefields of the 1990s is a response to that report."

    I recall what Smedley Butler said about raising an army to fight Fascism in America, if necessary.  The day could come when soldiers seek justice by force of their own character and will, instead of relying on the good will of mean who apparently may not have much of that precious substance that is so hard to commodify.

    The film, "Beyond Treason," which I will review as the third installment of this series on an important aspect of energy and sustainable business, speaks of a U.S. policy based on the notion of "disposable armies."  When soldiers get a grip on such an inclination, which they are doing as they 'get the shaft' repeatedly again, the results could easily be more 'interesting' than any Chinese curse.

    Henry Kissinger, arguably as much of a 'grand strategist' in relation to our nation's 'century long war' planned for the Middle East, allegedly made a statement, which showed up in the book, Kiss the Boys Good Bye.  It epitomizes just the sort of raw arrogance, as continues to show up in the DU scandal, that could trigger things that we have never seen in this land since the Civil War.

    "Military Men Are Just Dumb, Stupid, Animals To Be Used As Pawns In Foreign Policy."  In that event, Henry needn't worry, I suppose, nor those to whom he loaned his brain power so as to envision such carnage as might have made a Caesar blush.  In any event, eternal hell would be as nothing to the likes of one who could utter those lines.

    So the second film that my upcoming review will detail, "Contaminated Forever," won't discomfit Henry, he of the jet and many places to run.  But we should listen, those of us without so many options.

    "These weapons were used in Iraq, the Balkans, on testing grounds throughout the United States, and possibly in Afghanistan, Panama and Lebanon, with their poison dust afflicting soldiers and civilians. Their nanoparticle fallout, in the earth, has a half-life of 4.5 billion years, ready to be inhaled or ingested, where, inside the body, they pass through cell walls to begin their radioactive and toxic damage."  They're here now, their wreckage spanning the generations.  Shall we pretend it's not among us?

CONCLUSIONS

Promotion of nuclear reactors, whatever one hopes or fears about costs and safety and necessary social choices, inevitably means the likelihood of more nuclear weapons of the macro variety. Even if such crack-of-doom proliferation somehow miraculously does not come to pass, however, a more insidious, but in some ways equally hideous expansion of the nuclear arsenal will occur, in the form of DU ordnance.

As a matter of policy, those of us who believe in doing "business...better" might insist that the United States honor a 1996 United Nations Resolution, to wit, "urg(ing) all States to be guided in their national policies by the need to curb production and spread of weapons of mass destruction or with indiscriminate effect, in particular nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, fuel-air bombs, napalm, cluster bombs, biological weaponry and weaponry containing depleted uranium."

And, as if speaking to us directly, the U.N. went on to call for the end to the dishonorable dishonesty about the inability to prove the obviously grotesque health consequences of the technology that we have unleashed, in order to cut costs, increase profits, and further enhance killing power. Let's listen in.

24gatling-navyIt "recall(ed) the resolution 1996/16 of 29 August 1996, in which it requested the Secretary-General to submit a report on information gathered on the use of nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, fuel-air bombs, napalm, cluster bombs, biological weaponry and weaponry containing depleted uranium and their consequential and cumulative effects and the danger they represent to life, physical security and other human rights." We need to take the time and invest the resources to 'prove' what any idiot can see: DU is another example of what Harvey Wasserman called "Killing Our Own."

If we continue in this fashion without protest, we are accessories after the fact to murder.

Unfortunately, despite practically incontrovertible indicia of lethal impact, despite protests from allies above and citizens below, despite whistle-blowers from all sides and law suits and hacking attacks from objective and impartial folks everywhere, and more, as this article and the next document, as well as do innumerable other sources, including a pair of films that I'll soon review, our nation's leaders have persisted in error and horror. A citizen's job is to correct such if they are mistakes and to punish such otherwise.

One correspondent pointed out> a recent attempt by the Department of Defense to deflect attention from its recalcitrance to discuss employing these instruments of what the United Nations labels "superfluous injury and unnecessary suffering. "In an obvious attempt to turn away the public attention, DoD spokesmen portrayed these weapons as being around for a long time and therefore not newsworthy."

Having sown the wind, literally, with seeds of death, in order to avoid whirlwinds of horrific consequences over the centuries to come, we must do more than stop this madness, however. We must make redress. Instead of spending several billion dollars each month causing further devastation, that same funding needs to go into clean up and compensation for actual damages: loss of life, loss of breath, loss of health, loss of hope.

According to Doug Rokke, instead of a forthcoming attitude in this regard, "(A)lready mandatory medical care requirements and mandatory environmental remediation requirements as specified in U.S. Army Regulation 700-48, U.S. Army Technical bulletin 9-1300-278, and numerous but ignored orders" are shunted aside in various dodges.

He is clear as to what is happening and what needs to happen,

"U.S. and British officials have arrogantly refused to comply with their own regulations, orders, and directives... to provide prompt and effective medical care to 'all' exposed individuals. Reference: Medical Management of Unusual Depleted Uranium Casualties, DOD, Pentagon, 10/14/93, Medical Management of Army personnel Exposed to Depleted Uranium (DU) Headquarters, U.S. Army Medical Command 29 April 2004, and section 2-5 of U.S. Army Regulation 700-48. ...They also refuse to clean up dispersed radioactive Contamination as required by Army Regulation- AR 700-48: “Management of Equipment Contaminated With Depleted Uranium or Radioactive Commodities” (Headquarters, Department Of The Army, Washington, D.C., September 2002) and U.S. Army Technical Bulletin- TB 9-1300-278: “Guidelines For Safe Response To Handling, Storage, And Transportation Accidents Involving Army Tank Munitions Or Armor Which Contain Depleted Uranium” (Headquarters, Department Of The Army, Washington, D.C., JULY 1996). Specifically section 2-4 of United States Army Regulation-AR 700-48 dated September 16, 2002 requires that:

(1) “Military personnel “identify, segregate, isolate, secure, and label all RCE” (radiologically contaminated equipment).
(2) “Procedures to minimize the spread of radioactivity will be implemented as soon as possible.”
(3) “Radioactive material and waste will not be locally disposed of through burial, submersion, incineration, destruction in place, or abandonment” and
(4) “All equipment, to include captured or combat RCE, will be surveyed, packaged, retrograded, decontaminated and released IAW Technical Bulletin 9-1300-278, DA PAM 700-48″ (Note: Maximum exposure limits are specified in Appendix F).

DOD leaders are not showing the DU training tapes to military personnel. These three video tapes: (1) “Depleted Uranium Hazard Awareness”, (2) “Contaminated and Damaged Equipment Management”, and (3) “Operation of the AN/PDR 77 Radiac Set” are essential to understanding the hazards from the use of uranium weapons and management of uranium weapons contamination. DOD leaders must show these tapes to all military personnel involved in the use of uranium weapons and the consequent management of uranium contamination."

This is a lot to take in, but this is the former head of the DU clean-up program talking, who resigned when the orders proved to be a PR front rather than a plan for helping hurting vets. He can back up every point that he proffers. When will citizens begin to back him up?

AFTERWORD

Radiation poisoning is redundant. While only a fraction of toxicity involves radiation, all radioactivity is dangerous, potentially harmful or lethal to human health and a livable environment. That we have evolved in the presence of this constant danger does not alter this fact, any more than having speciated in the presence of deadly plants means that the aminita, 'angel of death,' mushroom is harmless.

But this is just a point of inception for today's story, which focuses on an inevitable by-product of all industrial sources of nuclear 'energy' today, whether the power released is for catastrophic or putatively constructive purposes. When pondering the clearly hideous and possibly devastating impacts of depleted Uranium as an instance of how noxious nuclear waste can be, however, many proponents of 'defense'-in-the-form of mass collective suicide or of making-tea-by-splitting-atoms will protest.

Lueren Moret, a scientist and long standing activist for human rights in relation to radiation, and especially DU, calls the use of these weapons in Iraq "The Trojan Horse of Nuclear War." She tells of one of the secrets that time and tide have allowed to leak out.

"In a declassified memo to General Leslie R. Groves, dated October 30, 1943, three of the top physicists in the Manhattan Project, Dr James B Conant, A H Compton, and H C Urey, made their recommendation, as members of the Subcommittee of the S-1 Executive Committee, on the ‘Use of Radioactive Materials as a Military Weapon’: 'As a gas warfare instrument the material would be ground into particles of microscopic size to form dust and smoke and distributed by a ground-fired projectile, land vehicles, or aerial bombs. In this form it would be inhaled by personnel. The amount necessary to cause death to a person inhaling the material is extremely small … There are no known methods of treatment for such a casualty … it will permeate a standard gas mask filter in quantities large enough to be extremely damaging.'"

I cannot personally attest to the validity of this citation; but I have seen the evidence about the planning that went into the decision to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The thought processes cited here are certainly congruent with, though on a smaller field of battle, the ways of justifying and imagining the powerful benefits of this amazing new weapon with which we were about to vaporize a quarter of a million people.

25-dep-uranium-kid2Doug Rokke rocks with indignation in the contemporary fulfillment of the 1940's tactical vision. "Today, U.S., British, and now Israeli military personnel are using illegal uranium munitions- America’s and England’s own “dirty bombs” while U.S. Army, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Defense, and British Ministry of Defense officials deny that there are any adverse health and environmental effects as a consequence of the manufacture, testing, and/or use of uranium munitions to avoid liability for the willful and illegal dispersal of a radioactive toxic material – depleted uranium even though internal U.S. Department of Defense documents verify adverse health and environmental effects .

(Thus), the use of uranium weapons is absolutely unacceptable, and a crime against humanity. Consequently the citizens of the world and all governments must force cessation of uranium weapons use. I must demand that Israel now provide medical care to all DU casualties in Lebanon and clean up all DU contamination."

These 'demands' certainly seem reasonable to me. But until the passionate and militant individual cries of conscience become a collective assertion of popular will, two things are certain. Mayhem and murder will continue. And the bombs that fall far away will explode, one way or another, closer and closer to home, just as Martin Luther King ascertained. The ordnance that we devastate with abroad will explode in our own living rooms.

We cannot create enough stuff to heal the damage that Martin Luther King Jr points out. Commodification is part of the problem, not the basis for a solution. Those who would do "business better" might profitably reflect on this idea.

C. Wright Mills, the incisive thinker about power and politics and justice and democracy, years before Eisenhower's 'farewell' warning about the influence of the military industrial complex, Militarycautioned Americans to recognize the dangers of militarism in charge of everything. I can only point out to those who believe in renewable energy and sustainable business, that such matters of these are of grave importance and deserve real attention.

"In the United States… a handful of corporations centralize decisions and responsibilities that are relevant for military and political as well as economic developments of global significance. For nowadays the military and the political cannot be separated from economic considerations of power. We now live not in an economic order or a political order, but in a political economy that is closely linked with military institutions and decisions. This is obvious in the repeated “oil crisis” in the Middle East, or in the relevance of Southeast Asia and African resources for the Western powers."

Photo Credits:
Depleted Uranium victims Iraq: Luther Blissett
Protest signs: Tadek Kurpaski
Tank: Christiaan Briggs
Gatling gun Navy ship: Steve Swayne
DU slug: public domain
Cylinder leak: public domain
Doug Rokke: Alex Jones Show
Oxidization:Theo
VA sign: Bob Shepard

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