The following is a brave article in many ways — Scott Peterson defied military orders and risked his own health to check out the radiation from depleted uranium sites in Iraq for himself. What he found confirms wholesale what DU scientists and activists have been saying for years and makes the military’s domestic claim that “its safe and necessary” seem quite bogus indeed. It also makes the military seem bumbling and irresponsible, yet again, by pointing out that in many cases he saw signs left saying “Danger” due to depleted uranium — but the signs were all in English and hardly anyone could understand them. Even so, he did see one in Arabic, only highlighting further that while DU is safe for media consumption here, its radioactive and toxic there. The article must be taken to task for whimping out at the end, however. It intimates that much less DU may have been used in this war, putting the reported military figure at 75 tons of bulletage. I’ve heard 97 as the figure myself, but regardless — even if this figure is accurate (which I question) — it represents only the DU from A-10 Warthog anti-tank planes. What about all the missles of Shock and Awe ladies and gentlemen? What about anti-tank panzer and ground troop weaponry — all of which greatly exceeded Gulf War I. What about the Apache helicopters? In disagreement with this article, then, I see no reason whatsoever to move from the conservative estimate of twice the amount of DU used in this war — but some have it as high as 1000 tons.
By Scott Peterson | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
BAGHDAD – At a roadside produce stand on the outskirts of Baghdad, business is brisk for Latifa Khalaf Hamid. Iraqi drivers pull up and snap up fresh bunches of parsley, mint leaves, dill, and onion stalks.
But Ms. Hamid’s stand is just four paces away from a burnt-out Iraqi tank, destroyed by – and contaminated with – controversial American depleted-uranium (DU) bullets. Local children play “throughout the day” on the tank, Hamid says, and on another one across the road.
No one has warned the vendor in the faded, threadbare black gown to keep the toxic and radioactive dust off her produce. The children haven’t been told not to play with the radioactive debris. They gather around as a Geiger counter carried by a visiting reporter starts singing when it nears a DU bullet fragment no bigger than a pencil eraser. It registers nearly 1,000 times normal background radiation levels on the digital readout.
The Monitor visited four sites in the city – including two randomly chosen destroyed Iraqi armored vehicles, a clutch of burned American ammunition trucks, and the downtown planning ministry – and found significant levels of radioactive contamination from the US battle for Baghdad.
In the first partial Pentagon disclosure of the amount of DU used in Iraq, a US Central Command spokesman told the Monitor that A-10 Warthog aircraft – the same planes that shot at the Iraqi planning ministry – fired 300,000 bullets. The normal combat mix for these 30-mm rounds is five DU bullets to 1 – a mix that would have left about 75 tons of DU in Iraq.
The Monitor saw only one site where US troops had put up handwritten warnings in Arabic for Iraqis to stay away. There, a 3-foot-long DU dart from a 120 mm tank shell, was found producing radiation at more than 1,300 times background levels. It made the instrument’s staccato bursts turn into a steady whine.
Read the full article. [Vegan Blog: The (Eco) Logical Weblog]