Understanding the Dangers of Depleted Uranium Munitions

By Matthew Gooch

Lost in the abyss of media deception and misrepresentation that surrounds our war on “terror” is the salient fact that a long list of countries from all around the globe are actively waging chemical and nuclear warfare in the middle-east. DU is a very dense metal that is made when fissionable uranium is separated from natural uranium to manufacture nuclear bombs and reactor fuel. It remains radioactive for about 4.5 billion years.

The most obvious damage is caused by the presence of this DU in the soil. This can create up to a hundredfold increase in uranium levels in ground water, according to the U.N. Environmental proThe world is a businessgram. The less obvious and more deadly damage to people is done when the round is fired and hits its target. Uranium-238 is pyrophoric, meaning it combusts when in contact with air so DU shells are burning as they fly and upon impact, ~70% of the projectile burns up creating a plume of ceramic DU oxide particles. This plume contains extremely fine ceramic uranium dust that is spread by the wind, inhaled by people and animals, and absorbed by plants, animals, and into the human body. The small particles are carried across vast distances until the rain takes them to the soil and water becoming interwoven into our food chain and water supply.

The first use of DU in war was by Israel under U.S. supervision in the Yom Kippur War in 1973 against the Arabs nations. By 2003 the United States had a stockpile of over 450,000 tons of pure DU stockpiled and has sold DU to over 29 countries. The military has done extensive research and testing with DU at gunnery ranges and civilian labs under contracts during 1974-1999 and currently 42 states have DU contamination. This contamination comes from the manufacture, testing, and deployment of depleted uranium. Some of the most extensive testing was done over decades at four bombing and gunnery ranges in Fallon, Nevada where thousands of tones of DU were used. Coincidental or not this area also harbors the fasted growing leukemia cluster in the U.S.

DUIt’s as if the decisions to use DU again and again have been made with gross ignorance; in fact, the spring before the first Gulf War started in 1990 the military released a report on DU discussing that a large amount of DU dust could be inhaled by soldiers and civilians during and after combat. Infantry would receive the highest exposures leading to cancers and kidney problems. By 2000 DU had been used in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia and many other places.

A study conducted by Dr. Asaf Durakovic, director of a private, non-profit, Uranium Medical Research Center in Canada did a study on veterans suffering typical Gulf War Syndrome and found DU in their urine nine years after the war. There are many other leading officials that have had their findings pushed aside such as those by Dr. Doug Rokke who was an Army health physicist assigned in 1991 to the command staff of the 12th Preventive Medicine Command and 3rd U.S. Army Medical Command headquarters. He was recalled to active duty 20 years after serving in Vietnam, from his research job with the University of Illinois Physics Department, and sent to the Gulf to take charge of the DU cleanup operation. Rokke said: “Verified adverse health effects from personal experience, physicians and from personal reports from individuals with known DU exposures include reactive airway disease, neurological abnormalities, kidney stones and chronic kidney pain, rashes, vision degradation and night vision losses, lymphoma, various forms of skin and organ cancer, neuropsychological disorders, uranium in semen, sexual dysfunction and birth defects in offspring.”

It’s not like there were only a few ten thousand pounds of DU used in conflicts, there are estimates of 50,000+ metric tons of DU used by the U.S. in conflicts between 1990 and 2004 alone and the United States military along with others still continue to use DU in munitions to this day. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe amount of bombs dropped on Baghdad and Iraq is truly staggering at the height of the siege of Fallujah in the fall of 2004 Major Mike Sexton said this; “With a massive Marine air and ground offensive under way, ”a Marine press release said, “Marine close air support continues to put high-tech steel on target. Flying missions day and night for weeks, the fixed wing aircraft of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing are ensuring battlefield success on the front line.” Since the beginning of the war, the press release said, the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing alone had dropped more than five hundred thousand tons of ordnance. “This number is likely to be much higher by the end of operations,” Major Mike Sexton also said. In the battle for Fallujah, more than seven hundred Americans were killed or wounded; U.S. officials did not release estimates of civilian dead. In September 2009, Fallujah General Hospital in Iraq had 170 new babies, 24% of whom were dead within the first week, 75% of those babies were classified as deformed. In August 2002 there were 530 new born babies of whom ~1% was dead within the first seven days and only one birth defect was reported which was not classified as deformed. Doctors in Fallujah have also stated that, “a significant number of babies that do survive begin to develop severe disabilities at a later stage.”

“Which is worse, flash annihilation by nuclear explosions, or slow mutilation from low-level radiation, the result of radioactive contamination of the air, water and earth essential to life? Globally, we have been deceived about the health effects of radiation by bureaucratized governments informed by the military industrial complex and scientific power. In the past half-century, 1.3 billion people have been killed, maimed, and diseased by nuclear weapons and nuclear power.” ~ Leuren Moret – Berkeley, California June 2001

The use of DU munitions is clearly controversial and the defense industry needs to confront this issue in public light with independent research and overview. It is an example of how new, under tested, and toxic chemicals are being released into the ecosystem for the sake of security, resources, and politics. This is also a topic that I feel has been censored over the past decade as there has been a total media blackout on the topic of Deplete Uranium and its use as a weapon.


Iraq Solidarity News Magazine (Al-Thawra) 2010 http://www.thewe.cc/weplanet/news

Iraqi cancers, birth defects blamed on U.S. depleted uranium Larry Johnson. November 12, 2002 http://www.seattlepi.com/national/95178_du12.shtml

Birchall A, Clark M. (2001). “Depleted uranium.” March 2001. Retrieved June 20, 2003 from the National Radiological Protection Board web site, http://www.nrpb.org/publications/bulletin/archive/bulletin_229.pdf
Fahey D, “Science of science fiction.” (2003). March 12, 2003. Retrieved July 7, 2003 from http://www.antenna.nl/wise/uranium/pdf/dumyths.pdf

UNEP, “Depleted uranium in Serbia and Montenegro,” Retrieved July 19, 2003 from http://postconflict.unep.ch/publications/duserbiamont.pdf

            Ibid.  United Nations Environment Program, Post Conflict Assessment Unit. (2003). “Low-level DU contamination found in Bosnia and Herzegovina, UNEP calls for precaution.” Press Release, March 25, 2003. Retrieved July 19, 2003 from http://postconflict.unep.ch/pressbihdu25mar2003.htm

            Ibid   United Nations Environment Program, Post Conflict Assessment Unit. (2003). “Low-level DU contamination found in Bosnia and Herzegovina, UNEP calls for precaution.” Press Release, March 25, 2003. Retrieved July 19, 2003 from the UNEP web site http://postconflict.unep.ch/pressbihdu25mar2003.htm

            Ibid   United Nations Environment Program. (2002). “UNEP confirms low-level DU contamination in Serbia and Montenegro, calls for precaution.” Retrieved July 19, 2003 from http://postconflict.unep.ch/pressfrydusermar2002.htm

How much DU have they used? (2006). Karl Schwarz quoted from http://www.theperfectsystem.net/guest_articles/karlschwarz/ks_22106.htm  Retrieved on 10/12/2011 from http://cassiopaea.org/forum/index.php?topic=495.0

Finding sources on this topic is especially difficult, most studies are produced by RAND corporation (and militarily funded).

NDD Nature Deficit Disorder

By Matthew Gooch

The idea that a person can develop a Nature Deficit Disorder is a relatively new concept. The basis for the theory is that as a person grows up they are secluded from nature and scenes of lush greenery and wide open spaces full of natural surroundings. This deficit of nature causes a lack of creativity and imagination as well as a overall detachment from an understanding of being part of the earth’s ecosystem. This feeling of isolation from the planet is never something that is realized as the appreciation for nature has not been stimulated.
The term was coined by Richard Louv in Last Child in the Woods, 2005. The disorder can have a wide range of behavior problems. Such as; parental fears, restricted access to natural areas, and being addicted to the screen. It comes from an understanding that people have a particular liking to outdoors and a need to be in nature for periods of their life. Although the disorder is not recognized in any medical manual on mental disorders, evidence is being compiled to show how a lack of nature leads to mental problems. Here are some of the listed causes; parents are keeping children indoors to keep them safe in excess, loss of natural surroundings in a neighborhood, and increased draw to spend more time inside. The effects can be many an according to some are very deeply rooted. Obviously a lack of respect for immediate natural surroundings, it can lead to attention disorders and depression, low grades, obesity, and lack of cognitive development, a missing sense of wonder and connection to the earth.
There are some organizations popping up here and there to help curb NDD. The No Child Left Inside Coalition is a group that is making an effort to address the problem by getting kids outdoors more and into more natural learning environments. There are also efforts to draft an act titles No Child Left Inside to increase environment education in schools. In Colombia the, Organizacion para la Educacion y Proteccion Ambiental, has been addressing this issue for over 10 years. Their mission is to reconnect children to the earth to promote environmental responsibility. They do this by linking three levels of education, intellectual, experiential and emotional or spiritual.
I find all of this to be rather interesting; it is hard for me to imagine growing up without the woods as I have spent much of my life in nature. I could see how there might be a Society Deficit Disorder that may be coined by some as well. There must always be balance. I found that since I have spent so much time in the woods and away from structured society that I have become almost afraid of it. I feel as though sometimes people don’t care to notice the way governments are restricting freedoms and oppressing people. I have developed a lack of trust towards politicians and large multimillion international institutions. This could have come from a lack of societal living or maybe I am just all too aware of how our society is changing for the worst. How companies hoard and destroy patents that threaten their profits even if those patents may be very good for people and society. Also how companies will prevent cures from being fully developed because they make more off of a sick person that has to keep buying there medicine to stay better instead of taking just one pill and being cured. All I am saying is that although there is a lack of children going into nature it may not actually be developing mental illnesses. There is still a lack of substantial evidence to prove the solidity of NDD. I also think that there is much more behind how kids are acting today then there nature dose. I agree children should spend more times outdoors but I do not agree that it is the only factor contributing to the change we are seeing in children today. I would blame that on a collection of things from slow parenting and overbearing parents due to the society of perpetuate fear we live in as well as the undeniably invasiveness of the technological state we are in.
Outside Agitators by Bill O’Driscoll, Pittsburgh City Paper
Are your kids really spending enough time outdoors? Getting up close with nature opens a child’s eyes to the wonders of the world, with a bounty of health benefits. by Tammie Burak, Canadian Living.
Louv, Richard. (2011) The Nature Principle: Human Restoration and the End of Nature-Deficit Disorder. Algonquin Books. 303pp.

Water Usage and Water Rights

As a citizen I would start by setting a good example of water usages in general. If the water in question is off limits to the public then I would not want to go into it as it probably contains toxins or is off limits for another reason. Water is one of the most important factors of life. If any living thing on this planet is without water it will die. It is much more than that too however the water must be free of toxins and for some living things it must contain certain minerals and a specific PH range. Any human activities in or around water are going to cause some form of impact. It is usually best practice to judge how a specific activity will impact the water quality. I would want to make sure that any activities I am participating in will not cause any damage to the ecosystem that cannot be reversed or that is unsustainable. It is important to keep in mind what other activities are going to take place at that location when doing this. This is also true for previous human involvement of the water since some activities can damage the ecosystem long after they are stopped. For example the process of mining which uses heavy metals to displace and collect desired ore. This process can leave heavy metal particulates and other chemicals in the water and soil for decades to come. It is possible to get chemical poisoning from swimming in polluted water.

There are methods of reducing water and bank impacts of human use. The most obvious would be to place trash containers at locations where there is water access and trail stops. This does require some maintenance and can be a problem for private land owners next to wilderness recreation zones. As a land manager I would have no problem with people using a portion of my land (unless it was a small piece of land) for emergency situations or for area access. I would not provide a camping spot or anything like that but if my land was on a water trail and covered a good stretch of shore I would have no problem make a landing site for emergency situations or providing access from a road to a waterway. I would probably have a few grumbles over an increase in property tax but that usually happens because land value increases.

I would want to involve a few non-profit or not-for-profit agencies to get some volunteers rallied to clean up trash and help install a safer and less impacting water trail and water access route. It would also help to involve some of the communities along water ways more than they already are. To promote discounts for water users would boost their economy and probably help out the water users as well. If there were some people that got involved in helping keep access points usable and clean up trash then the water trails would become safer and more sustainable. It would improve the views of those concerned about water use and would also promote a more effective recreating environment. Flagging dangerous areas and providing emergency pull out locations will help people have a safer journey. One other type of people to get involved would be land owners that border trails or provide access points to trailheads and points of interest on public lands. If there could be a cooperation between them and an entity capable of providing signage and or restrooms (USFS) that would be of great interest to the public wishing to interact with those areas.