20th January 2001

Depleted Uranium Watch

Dangerous at any speed

What is DU Metal and why it is called DU?

Bob Petrovich, bojanp@home.com



In plain English - Waste from Nuclear reactor. UNEP was surprised although it was reported as early as 1990 (Price) BBC report also hints Plutonium. In plain English - highly toxic substance.


DU Metal used for military purposes is not Depleted Uranium ! Natural Uranium contains three isotopes. The U234 and U235 constitute LESS THAN 1%, the rest is U238. "The 234 U is a major contributor to the radioactivity of naturally occurring uranium despite its small percentage by weight because its specific activity is so high in comparison with 235 U and 238 U (Coleman et al., 1983; Cross, 1991; Piesch et al., 1986; Rohloff and Heinzelmann, 1986)."Highly radioactive isotopes ( U234 and U235) are extracted during enrichment process and byproducts Depleted Uranium Hexafluoride (DUF6) and Depleted Uranium Tetrafluoride (DUF4) a.k.a. "green salt" are produced. DU metal is made from the "green salt", ALLOYED and treated for better characteristics.

Other metal(s) used in the ALLOY may increase toxicity of the Uranium in DU metal.

Uranium ore contains ONE PERCENT of U234 and U235,

How much DU Metal contains?

Military Specification requires that DU Metal must contain less than 0.3% of U235. Department of Defense uses DU containing approximately 0.2 % 235 U (Price 1980). Since U234 is removed from the ore by approx. the same percentage as U235 it is safe to assume DU Metal contains 0.2 % of U234 as well. Depleted uranium has 60% of the radioactivity of natural occurring uranium, 50% attributed to U238 and 10% to U234 and U235 combined.

In 1990 study Danesi concluded that intact DU weapon systems presented minimal external exposure risk for personnel working with them. What about civilians and peacekeepers living on the battlefield? Once aerosol is released and ingested/inhaled radiation is the most important contributor to the radiation hazard. The toxicity hazard is determined by the base DU metal and the other metals in DU Metal alloy.

How big is the risk?

AEPI study from 1993 analyzed four previous major DU studies from 1974, 1979 and 1990. and remarked: "There are significant costs associated with implementing many of the programs suggested in the conclusions of this report. When policy-makers view these costs in the context of studying problems rather than solving them, it may be easy to conclude that the return on investment is low. This appears to be part of the reason the conclusions from the four foundation studies have not been fully implemented."

NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson stated: "I do not believe the public should have been as excited as it has been. We are confident that there is little risk from DU munitions, but we refuse to be complacent."


The public, especially civilians of Iraq and the Balkans, Gulf veterans and Balkan Peacekeepers can do nothing but believe he is telling the truth. Cheerleaders of humanitarian bombing are nowhere in sight.

This page: http://www.stopnato.org.uk/du-watch/petrovich/dangerous.htm


Search this site
Search WWW