Deception Over Health Risks of Depleted Uranium
Excerpted from the Thursday, February 1, 2001 Irish Times
by Lara Marlowe
Is depleted uranium, the waste product of the nuclear industry used to make tank-piercing weapons, responsible for Gulf War syndrome and Balkans syndrome?
The US Department of Defence and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation both still deny it.
But how can one explain that children of Gulf War veterans suffer the same birth defects as Iraqi children born in zones contaminated by DU? That the same symptoms - fatigue, depression, respiratory and kidney problems and in many cases leukaemia - affect civilians and soldiers exposed to DU in both the Gulf and the Balkans? And if DU is harmless, why is Kuwait paying private companies millions of dollars to decontaminate its battlefields?
|Severe deformity of arms.
This child was born to a
US Gulf veteran.
Who will pay to decontaminate Iraq, Bosnia and Kosovo?
Three journalists, Martin Meissonnier, who is French, the Belgian Frederic Loore and Roger Trilling from the US, have spent two years investigating DU production, use and effects. Their conclusions - published in Paris on Monday by Robert Laffont in a book, Depleted Uranium, the Invisible War - are causing tremors in the defence establishments of the US and Britain, the only states to have used DU weapons.
The book and a television documentary by the same journalists show the US government was at best grossly negligent and deceitful towards US nuclear workers, soldiers and the civilians of Iraq and former Yugoslavia. At worst - as stated by Paul Sullivan, the head of the National Gulf War Resource Centre - the US is guilty of knowingly contaminating parts of the Gulf and former Yugoslavia for the next 4.5 billion years.
Mr Trilling says, "DU is a terror weapon in the sense that no one really knows what it does," he says. "The Gulf veteran groups are desperate to find out. The people we talk to are half mad with terror."
THE US anti-DU activist Dan Fahey sums up the Pentagon's attitude as, "Don't look, don't find". Congress ordered the Pentagon to investigate the effects of DU in 1993, but nearly eight years later it has undertaken no serious research on the inhalation of DU or the birth defects afflicting veterans' children.
It was known from 1952 that the defoliant Agent Orange caused cancer, degenerative diseases and birth defects. Yet when Vietnam veterans suffered these afflictions, the Pentagon insisted there was no evidence they were caused by Agent Orange. Workers at Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant, which produced DU in Kentucky, breathed and touched carcinogenic plutonium dust for decades before the Department of Energy admitted in 1999 that the entire place was contaminated. Ten thousand Paducah workers, many of them cancer-stricken, are now suing the US government.
© 2001 ireland.com
Voices asks: how can the starving and sick and dying children of Iraq sue for justice?