16th February 2001

Depleted Uranium Watch

Depleted Uranium And Enriched Cover Up

Predrag Tosic, p-tosic@math.uiuc.edu

Belgrade, Serbia/ Champaign, Illinois

The AP article quoted from below is a flimsy attempt at a shameless cover-up and at sweeping the real issues under the carpet. It requires hardly more than than a first or second year college physics course to effectively catch these "NATO scientists" (or whatever they claim to be) in both obfuscating and outright distorting the truth. (See below.) The report is dated February 2, 2001. The paragraphs from the AP report, in italics, are interwoven with my comments.

Scientists Study NATO Ammunition
By EMMA ROSS

LONDON (AP) - The possibility that U.S. tank-piercing ammunition used in the Balkans wars contained more than just depleted uranium has prompted scientists to re-examine their skepticism about health risks to veterans.

The "scientists" who were "sceptical" (presumably on the ground that "it was 'only' depleted uranium" as opposed to say plutonium or other more radioactive substances) are NATO scientists and those who are pretending to be scientists, but in fact have a public relations job to do for NATO and/or various NATO member governments. Dr. Doug Rokke, a leading U.S. expert on depleted uranium (DU) who used to work for the US military, but who quit precisely because of the DU cover-up in the Persian Gulf and beyond, for example, is not "sceptical" in the least regarding the harmfulness of DU, even DU without any additional "stuff". The "sceptical scientists" the AP is referring to are, actually, a tiny minority of all the researchers and scholars with sufficient background to be able to competently judge possible health hazards related to DU, but, as usual, this is conveniently omitted from the report.

Experts' opinions that cancer cases reported by European veterans were not linked to depleted uranium assumed the material came from raw ore.  But now the Pentagon says shells used in the 1999 Kosovo conflict were tainted with traces of plutonium, neptunium and americium - by-products of nuclear reactors that are much more radioactive than depleted uranium.

Again, what "expert opinions"? Most experts emphasize both (mostly short-range) radioactive effects of DU and its chemical, i.e. toxic, effects.

In "the Pentagon says..." there is, for those who fail to notice these little details, an open, explicit admission that Serbia was knowingly being bombed by the New World Order "humanitarians" with ammo  containing nuclear waste; i.e., the whole region was used as a nuclear waste dump.

"If it has been through a reactor, it does change our idea on depleted uranium,'' said Dr. Michael Repacholi, the World Health Organization's radiation expert. ``It all depends on the amounts.''

Duh.

For the reader's information, a single alpha particle inside the body, at least in principle, can cause lung (or other) cancer. (For more on this see the two references below.)

What the amount determines, in a way, is the probability of cancer or other radiation-related disease developing. Exposure to DU-contaminated dust, water, etc. can certainly and rather significantly increase one's chances of developing these diseases.

The main new concern, experts say, is plutonium, a highly toxic radioactive metal.

Plutonium, indeed, is one of the major concerns. Again, with or without plutonium, there are plenty of reasons for concern regarding the health of millions of people: The toxic effects of DU, as well as its radioactive (alpha-particle emission) effects, provide plenty of reasons for concern, at least to those who care about the health and lives of hundreds of thousands of people in the Balkans more than about exonerating Western/NATO political leaders from their indisputable responsibility for this contamination of much of the Balkans region.

On Thursday, NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson reiterated NATO's position that Balkans peacekeepers have not been shown to suffer health damage from depleted uranium ammunition. U.S. officials have said the shells contained mere traces of plutonium, not enough to cause harm.

The grotesque character who is the former Tony Blair "defense" minister and current NATO General Secretary is, simply put, lying. He knows it, and everyone else knows it, yet.... In reference to the last sentence in the AP paragraph above, exactly how much plutonium is "enough to cause harm" according to the Pentagon?

But WHO [World Health Organization] experts asked the U.S. government this week to clarify exactly how much plutonium and other radioactive material was in the ammunition.

Countries that sent peacekeepers to Bosnia and Kosovo have been looking for links between the depleted uranium ammunition and illnesses contracted by veterans. A wave of fear swept across Europe and beyond after Italy announced it was screening its soldiers because 30 Balkans veterans had become  ill, including five who died of leukemia.

The number of deceased Italians, by now, stands at eight. A few Portuguese, a Czech, and a couple of Bulgarians should be added to the tally - possibly more. As usual, it seems the US and the UK are going to be the two governments that intend to lie and deny the longest, even though the death tallies among their servicemen (if one adds up both the Gulf and the Balkans veterans) is likely to be the highest -- as is their responsibility for the DU contamination in the first place.

Hopefully, they are not going to get away with it, not this time.

Scores of countries began testing soldiers for radiation poisoning.

... including those who "see no link" between cancer/leukemia among its GIs and other veterans and the DU contamination. (Example: the brave new Great Britain of Tony Blair.)

U.N. environmental experts are examining radiation levels at sites targeted by NATO in the Balkans and NATO has set up a special committee to investigate claims of a link. The WHO expects to start new studies in the next six months.

``Minds have to be kept open on this,'' said Malcolm Grimson, a radiation expert at London's Imperial College of Medicine. ``We're in a different ballpark here than where we were when we thought we were dealing with depleted uranium from the ground. You have to do all your calculations again.''

One needs to test the blood and urine of a sizable sample of the current and former soldiers as well as local civilians, to begin with.

True, some of the DU-related diseases take time to develop; however, Bosnian Serbs were showered with depleted uranium over five years ago, and NATO and other troops have been stationed in the contaminated regions for nearly that long, as well. So, there was plenty of time not only for illnesses to develop, but also for serious testing, and for both medical and statistical studies to be performed, at least when it comes to the ex-servicemen in Bosnia.

This claim from the Imperial College of Medicine's "expert" concerning the necessity of "new calculations" is a quasi-scientific, politically-correct obfuscation. A need for "new calculations" does not explain or justify why thousands of troops and civilians who have been exposed to DU for half a decade have not been medically examined for signs of DU-related diseases.

Experts must first establish whether cancers are more common than normal among troops before they go on to investigate why. So far, there is no confirmed increase in cancer rates, said WHO's Repacholi.

Well, how many previously healthy Italian men in their 20s and early 30s die from leukemia over any say 1-year period? Now, how many Italians served in Bosnia and Kosovo? How many died? Compare the fractions, look

at the standard deviation for the global rate of cancer (say, by looking at variations over the past 10-15 years), see whether the statistics for the ex-servicemen in Bosnia-Herzegovina are within, say, one or two standard deviations from the general population's (of same gender, age etc.) corresponding averages - and, if not, how can one possibly claim that "there is no evidence of connection" between exposure to DU and the Gulf/Balkans syndrome?! Now, the procedure I just outlined requires no more than a decent undergraduate training in statistics - what in the world are  all these "experts", then, waiting for? They have all the data, but are obfuscating the issue and talking rubbish about there being "no pattern" and about whether there is any increase, as if it takes some incredible amount of time and effort to do the statistics, make comparisons, and derive at least some preliminary conclusions.

Lung cancer is the main danger from the radiation, but experts say it is far too early for that to surface. It takes several decades for lung cancer to develop from radiation exposure.

Rubbish.

The AP reporter and his "sources" should tell that to the hundreds of both US and UK Gulf War veterans (or their families, in the case of those "no longer with us"). They should peddle this line to the families of former Soviet army personnel and fire fighters who were trying to control the spread of the Chernobyl disaster and to put out the fires in and around the burning reactor. Last but not least, they should tell the "several decades" rubbish to the mourning family members of several hundred deceased Bosnian Serb refugees from Hadzici, the Sarajevo suburb (that was, back in 1995, under Bosnian Serb control), the region that was bombed with DU ammunition most heavily.

Secondly, lung cancer is only one among many threats. The one that manifests itself the soonest is leukemia, since it is really "cancer of bodily fluids" (blood and lymph). And, to repeat, more than five years have elapsed since Hadzici, and several other locations in Bosnia, had DU rained down upon them - five years being more than enough time for leukemia and other DU-related diseases to develop.

It is just about possible for leukemia cases to start showing up two years after exposure to radiation, but they are less likely to occur than lung cancer and it would take a massive dose, experts say.

Leukemia is indeed the quickest; a "massive dose" is demonstrably not necessary, even though, of course, it varies from one case to another. In any case, most of the Italians who died were veterans who served in Bosnia, not Kosovo. And, besides, it has been about 22 months since the contamination of Kosovo started taking place - so just wait and see regarding more news about NATO and other occupation troops increasingly getting sicker. (The local population, as usual, apparently does not count at all.)

"You would die of suffocation before you could inhale enough of the dust to cause cancer, and even then there's a low probability of cancer,'' Repacholi said.

Another piece of rubbish.

That opinion is based largely on studies of survivors of the atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he said. Leukemias started to appear there after two or three years. Depleted uranium mainly contains alpha rays, which are far less toxic than the gamma rays produced by atomic bombs.

No rays are "toxic" - the AP journalist does not have a remote clue as to what he is talking about. Chemicals are toxic; radiation is, well, radioactive.

The issue with alpha-rays (really, helium nuclei) is that they travel only a few centimeters, because basically they are heavy. (As compared to, say, electrons/positrons which constitute the Beta-rays.) So, one can stand 20 meters away from a DU site and be safe, provided there is no uranium-dioxide and similar substances in the air, dust, grass around one, etc. Last but not least, once already inhaled or ingested, alpha particles, with their inch or two radius of motion and penetration, can be just as deadly as the gamma rays or beta rays.

Among the Japanese bomb survivors, ``there's virtually no place where you get leukemia from something less than gamma radiation,'' Repacholi said. Plutonium releases gamma rays, but some scientists believe that while the revelation that the ammunition was tainted raises new concern, it doesn't raise enormous concern.

Of course it doesn't - if a part of your job description is to cover up the whole thing as much as possible, yet still appear credible, at least to those without any knowledge about depleted uranium and its possible toxic and radioactive effects.

"I can't imagine anyone in Kosovo got exposed to anything remotely like,'' the radiation produced by the bombs in Japan, said leukemia expert Mel Greaves, a professor of cellular biology at the Institute of Cancer Research in London. ``It's entirely related to dose.''

No, it is patently not true that the dose is the only factor, which this fellow from London's Institute of Cancer Research implies. Of course the dosage is important, but, again, a single alpha particle (and you can't get exposed to less than that, really) can  cause cancer.

That's why WHO officials need to know exactly how tainted the ammunition was.[...]It is unclear where the depleted uranium in the Kosovo weapons came  from.

This very last line is probably the biggest rubbish of all. Why don't they simply state openly, "Milosevic did it!" ?

My final comment: The reporter made such an ultra-careful, politically correct choice of scientists to interview (assuming he honestly conveyed what they actually said, of course), that one has to wonder how come he did not find some "authority" or "expert" to claim that "NATO is confident depleted uranium is good for you and your children", or something along those general lines.

Pathetic, truly pathetic - but let us do our best not to let the "experts" and their political mentors  get away with their attempted cover up!

Addendum: Some references on the low-level (alpha-particle-based) radioactivity of DU and associated health hazards:

http://www.stopnato.org.uk/du-watch/euler/athens.htm

http://www.llrc.org/durs.htm

This page: http://www.stopnato.org.uk/du-watch/tosic/cover-up.htm

 
 

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