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Cindy Sheehan was laughed at by many when she said:

We are waging a nuclear war in Iraq right now. That country is contaminated. It will be contaminated for practically eternity now.

She was referring, of course, to the use of depleted uranium munitions in Iraq.

There's some debate on whether the depleted uranium rounds "flash off" on impact or whether they just scatter radioactive uranium-238 in the manner of a dirty bomb.

If a round goes critical on impact, it's fair to call it a low-yeild nuclear weapon.

If it doesn't go critical, it's fair to describe each round as a small "dirty bomb".

Considering the half-life  of Depleted Uranium might be longer than the lifetime of our sun, it's probably better if a round does go critical on impact.

Depleted uranium (DU) is uranium that has a reduced proportion of the isotope Uranium-235. It is mostly made up of Uranium-238. The names Q-metal, depletalloy, and D-38, which once applied to depleted uranium, have fallen into disuse. Its high strength and density have made it a valued component in some technical applications, specifically in military projectiles. Such uses remain controversial, as the uranium still retains a substantial remainder of its radiation.

Think of what would happen if a terrorist took even a single depleted uranium munition and scattered the Uranium-238 from inside it in one of our cities. We wouldn't dismiss it then, would we? We say we were under attack by nuclear-armed terrorists, wouldn't we?

Depleted uranium is almost certainly the cause of "Gulf War Syndrome". Bush Sr., Clinton, Clarke and Bush Jr. have all been in a position of authority and responsibility when our military used depleted uranium.

Whether or not they are explicitly in cahoutz, they are the backbone of the non-partisan alliance for willfully ignoring the most plausible culprit for the cause of "Gulf War Syndrome". This non-partisan lack of integrity and honesty is the reason that our troops suffering "Gulf War Syndrome" can't get the support they're entitled to.

Whether by silence or by proactive suppression of the truth, these men are the ones who stand between our sick veterans and their access to the benefits they deserve. They also stand between us who want to outlaw the use of depleted uranium - to stop it immediately in Iraq, and those who want to continue its use.

What is so wrong with our country, that even the pinaccle of the netroots phenomenon can't get it right on a simple issue like depleted uranium?

Maybe the problem isn't that the current generation of American fascists are worse than ever, maybe the problem is that the current generation of American Liberals are uncommonly weak-willed and cowed with irrational fear. Most of us have never had a gun to our head. Why should we be afraid?

I watched a video of black children, some as young as six years old, defying huge crowds of white-supremecists of all ages trying to terrorize them to prevent integration of schools. I felt good as I watched that, because at least I had stood up for not just impeachment, but war-crimes trials for Bush under my own name, not a pseudonym. At least, as I witnessed these children of a previous generation confronting hatred, I didn't have the burden of knowing I was compromised by silence and irrational fear.

It has done a lot for my sense of well-being to drop the burden of irrational fear. I'm feeling less drama and more levity in my life. What an important lifestyle choice to make.
[Update: Maybe this is more of a partisan issue than I previously thought, if the Clintons are willing to wash their hands of it, so to speak...]

Senator Clinton:

""I am deeply troubled by reports that New York National Guard members, who have served our Nation so bravely, are exhibiting effects that may be attributed to uranium exposure and are not being afforded adequate health screening," Senator Clinton said."

Thanks to LNK for this bit of info. Hopefully, Democrats here on DailyKos will follow Hillary's lead and stop being defensive and rationalizing it and start looking at it with the attention it deserves. Too bad so many folks here seem to find it uninteresting as a topic. Thanks to those who recommended this diary.

Originally posted to PaulGaskin on Wed Oct 18, 2006 at 09:40 AM PDT.


Do you believe exposure to depleted uranium is the most likely cause of "Gulf War Syndrome"?

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Comment Preferences

    •  Boy, I hope Plutonium Page doesn't see this... (0+ / 0-)

      she'll rip you a new A-hole... I'm at work and can't go into it at length, but the threat from DU IS NOT RADIOACTIVITY... It IS an incredibly toxic heavy metal, not unlike lead, however... ; )

      Dudehisattva... <div style="color: #0000a0;">"Generosity, Ethics, Patience, Effort, Concentration, and Wisdom"&l

      by Dood Abides on Wed Oct 18, 2006 at 09:48:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sounds like she's scientifically illiterate (0+ / 0-)

        or willfully ignorant.

        It's Uranium-238. Of course the threat is radioactivity.

        Radioactivity is not like lead-toxicity. She needs to crack open a science book, if she believes what you said she does...

        •  Search her user name here, she's a front pager... (0+ / 0-)

          if you'd like to ask her, drop her an e-mail... BTW, she used to work with Plutonium in her job and seems pretty knowledgable... perhaps I am wrong and she will back you up, but what I've read about it also says the threat from radiation is negligable... ; )

          Dudehisattva... <div style="color: #0000a0;">"Generosity, Ethics, Patience, Effort, Concentration, and Wisdom"&l

          by Dood Abides on Wed Oct 18, 2006 at 09:56:04 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  She's definitely not scientifically illiterate. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Dood Abides

            We'll see what she says. I won't be convinced that it's okay to scatter radioactive material around. The military industrial complex has it's tentacles all throughout the scientific community and they love their nuclear weapons and nuclear energy reactors.

            Collectively, nuclear experts have had a long history of down-playing the effects of radiation so as to avoid public resistance. It's almost like heresy to challenge the conventional "wisdom" on this.

        •  Uranium toxicity (4+ / 0-)

          Uranium in any form is highly toxic insofar as chemical toxicity is concerned.  In particular, it is an acute kidney toxin, and affects other major organ systems as well.  This is entirely separate from any radiological effect.  The Time Weighted Average limit (TWA) for soluble uranium compounds is 0.05 mg/cubic meter of air.  For comparison, the limit for cyanides is 5 mg/cubic meter, 100 times higher.  Granted, this limit is based on both radiological and nonradiological hazards.

          Uranium-238 is the less hazardous uranium isotope from a radiological standpoint (compared with the other "common" isotope, U-235) because of its lower specific activity.  In other words, 238 takes much longer to decay than 235, and is therefore less radioactive on a unit mass basis.  However, that does not mean that there is no radiological hazard.

          Finally, upon impact with a target, DU vaporizes into a white hot, very dense mixture of true vapor and fine metallic particles, which is the agent making it useful for penetrating targets (more density, greater penetration).  DU is not fissile, so there is not any threat of criticality.  However, the material spontaneously combusts in a finely divided form, adding to the force of the impact.  The main product is an aersol of uranium oxides that disperse with the wind and can be deposited over great distances.  Exercise:  calculate the number of cubic meters of air potentially contaminated when a 10 kg DU projectile is completely vaporized.  I get a large number.  Regards,

  •  I saw a piece on LinkTV (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Del C, PaulGaskin

    and the Geiger counters were going absolutely APESHIT near areas where the depleted uranium rounds were used. Our soldiers were walking around ankle deep in radioactive shit with only their army boots to protect them. Nice.

    Let's go back to E Pluribus Unum

    by hazzcon on Wed Oct 18, 2006 at 09:48:37 AM PDT

  •  This is by design (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    This weapon is designed for the depopulation of a geographical region.  Poison water supply, the soil, the very gene pool of an entire nation and in a few decades, there will be real estate available at rock bottom prices.

    "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex."

    by Mxwll on Wed Oct 18, 2006 at 09:48:54 AM PDT

  •  Please recommend this diary. (0+ / 0-)

    Let's have some moral clarity for a change.

  •  not really accurate (0+ / 0-)

    Even strong opponents of depleted uranium generally don't allege that it has any significant levels of radioactivity, because it really doesn't: Uranium-238 is minimally radioactive, to the point where even if you were holding pure metal in your hands you'd get only marginally above background doses.  That's the "depleted" part---it has even less U-235 than naturally-occuring uranium, the opposite of the "enriched" uranium that would be useful for a dirty bomb (or nuclear weapon).

    The main controversy over DU is its chemical toxicity, which is a separate matter entirely and more due to its status as a heavy metal than to any relationship with the more radioactive isotopes of uranium.  How toxic it is to humans and what effects it would produce appears to be disputed; I've seen multiple UN reports reach different conclusions, and most hedge their bets since the evidence isn't very good either way.

    "See a world of tanks, ruled by a world of banks." —Sol Invictus

    by Delirium on Wed Oct 18, 2006 at 10:05:07 AM PDT

    •  "significant levels of radioactivity" (0+ / 0-)

      Well, whatever the level of radioactivity, it's going to be where we leave it for a long, long time.

      Suppose it only causes 3 more cancer-cases per 100,000 people. Negligable, right? Not in my opinion.

      Maybe it's going to keep doing that for 10,000 years. If any statistician finds any provable correlation between cancer, birth-defects and depleted uranium in any theater of battle, that's enough to make me want it stopped.

      This week, a former British Army engineer who served in Bosnia between December 1995 and April 1996, was revealed as the UK's first known victims of the Balkan War syndrome. On Thursday, Kevin Rudland (41) revealed that within months of returning to the UK from Bosnia his hair had fallen out, his teeth had rotted and he began suffering from chronic fatigue, osteoarthritis and severe bowel problems. Rudland was convinced his illness was caused by contact with DU dust. "I may be the first in this country at the moment, but I believe there are more that have not come forward or do not know yet," he warned.

      Both the US and UK have rejected links between DU and the emergence of Gulf or Balkan War syndromes. Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon said the US military had carried out extensive studies into the use of the muntions during the Gulf War, and had found no evidence of a cancer or other health risk. But a report by the US Army Environmental Policy Institute released three years ago said that, "If DU enters the body, it has the potential to generate significant medical consequences. The risks associated with DU in the body are both chemical and radiological. Personnel inside or near vehicles struck by DU penetrators could receive significant internal exposures."

  •  This is BS, folks. (0+ / 0-)

    ...or mostly BS.

    Some basics:

    The uranium folks dig out of the ground is composed mostly of two forms, U-238 (most of it) and U-235 (a few percent). U-235 will undergo a nuclear chain reaction, and is thus useful for powering nuclear power plants and bombs, but the uranium dug out of the ground must be "enriched" to get a higher concentration of U-235 or the chain reaction is not possible. At low levels of enrichment, you can use the U-235 chain reaction for energy (in a nuclear power plant), and at much higher levels of enrichment you can make a nuclear bomb from the product.

    What's left over from the process of enrichment is "depleted" uranium- mostly depleted of U-235, leaving U-238.  U-238 is still radioactive, but at a much lower level than U-235 and lower than uranium dug out of the ground, which contains that few percent of U-235.

    Depleted uranium is used in shells because it is hard and very very dense, allowing such shells to penetrate armor. It is not used as any sort of "nuclear weapon", and it never "goes critical" in a such a situation.

    However, it is low-level radioactive, as I've said, and one can say that any increase in background radioactivity from using depleted uranium in war is immoral. Others would probably point out that the increase in radioactivity is minimal.

    U-238 and depleted uranium is radioactive for a veerrry long time, because it emits radioactivity so slowly (and thus is not very radioactive at any particular point, at least compared to other elements with shorter half-lives, like U-235).

    It is not widely accepted as the cause of Gulf War syndrome by any significant number of reputable scientists or doctors.

    For the record, I fully support Cindy Sheehan in her antiwar efforts. I also think there are legitimate reasons to oppose the use of depleted uranium weapons, but if you want people to take such arguments seriously, we need to stay away from the BS.

    •  Sorry- "BS" maybe too strong a word (0+ / 0-)

      All I wanted to do is point out, like others, that the danger of radioactivity from DU is not that large. As others have mentioned, there are other risks of DU that are probably worse.

      I just don't want a legitimate argument against DU to be rejected by the general public because the science cited is off a bit.

    •  Shells? I'm no ballistics expert (0+ / 0-)

      But the shell is just that, the part that contains the propellant. The depleted uranium is in the core of the projectile.

      U-238 is still Uranium. It also contains a percentage of U-235.

      Natural uranium ore isn't such a desirable thing either. Naturally occuring radioactive material is what released Radon gas, which can give you cancer if your home isn't well ventilated.

      If you add up the U-235 fraction in all the DU munitions which have been fired in Iraq, I wonder exactly how much has U-235 been scattered. Someone ought to file a FOIA request to find out exactly how much DU has been used, then calculate the actual quantity of U-235 which has been scattered.

      U-238 is not ok. It's radioactive. It's not lead. It's not merely poisonous in a chemical sense. It still emits radiation and causes radiation sickness.

      When it strikes the armor, apparently it evaporates on impact. It's not like someone can go pick these uranium slugs afterward. Of course this will get into the food chain and end up concentrated in animal's and human's bones and bodies.

  •  Too big a scandal to admit to? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Halcyon, PaulGaskin

    FYI, reliable sources:

    Dr. Helen Caldicott:

    "Uranium actually clings to the DNA; chemically combines with DNA so much so that in medicine, in histology, in pathology, we use uranYl ions (which are uranium ions) to increase the stainings in our preparations BECAUSE URANIUM chemically combines with DNA. Obviously because of this mechanism, uranium damages DNA.  URANIUM IS ALSO a heavy metal AND like all heavy metals it IS EXCRETED THROUGH THE KIDNEY WHERE IT CAN CAUSE ACUTE NEPHRITIS AND ALSO KIDNEY CANCER YEARS LATER BECAUSE IT IS radioactive. So, from three perspectives - it can damage DNA, causing mutations and cancer, IT CAN DAMAGE KIDNEY FUNCTION  and IT CAN CAUSE congenital anomalies BECAUSE IT IS EXCRETED IN THE SEMEN AS WELL AS IN THE URINE."

    Senator Clinton:

    ""I am deeply troubled by reports that New York National Guard members, who have served our Nation so bravely, are exhibiting effects that may be attributed to uranium exposure and are not being afforded adequate health screening," Senator Clinton said."

    Very good article about our troops:

    "Poisoned? Shocking report reveals local troops may be victims of america's high-tech weapons"
    Four soldiers from a New York Army National Guard company serving in Iraq are contaminated with radiation likely caused by dust from depleted uranium shells fired by U.S. troops, a Daily News investigation has found.

    They are among several members of the same company, the 442nd Military Police, who say they have been battling persistent physical ailments that began last summer in the Iraqi town of Samawah."

    Dr. Michio Kaku is another reliable resource:

    A wee bit more:

  •  I'm recommending... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...simply because I'd like to see some folks with demonstrable expertise weigh in on this. Seems like something that worth a deeper look.

    "If you're looking for friends when you need's too late." -- Mark Twain

    by Riddle on Wed Oct 18, 2006 at 10:58:25 AM PDT

  •  Nuclear War (0+ / 0-)

    The use of depleted uranium does qualify as nuclear warfare.  We are now involved in at least our fourth nuclear war:  the bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, depleted uranium in Gulf War I, the former Yugoslavia, and now again in Gulf War II.

    I've asked Jonathan Schell, the nuclear proliferation expert, about depleted uranium and he said he hadn't studied the issue.  I've asked others who were supposed to be "experts" on Iraq and again, the same answer.  Too bad nobody important is interested in the issue.

    Solar is civil defense. Video of my small scale solar experiments at

    by gmoke on Wed Oct 18, 2006 at 07:55:55 PM PDT

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