Thursday, August 18, 2005
Via Zemblan patriot K.Z.: The Department of Defense continues to insist that depleted-uranium munitions pose no health hazard to American troops (although the civilian populations of both Afghanistan and Iraq have both experienced a shocking upswing in the incidence of childhood cancers and birth defects). Congress has thus far been content to take the Pentagon at its word. State legislators, however, are beginning to develop a healthy skepticism, as Dave Lindorff reports:
Quietly, and under the radar for now, a movement is growing across the country that could blow up White House war planning and finish off the U.S. adventure in Iraq.
That movement is state-by-state legislation to provide for testing of returning National Guard troops for signs of contamination by depleted uranium.
Kicked off in Connecticut by a feisty Democratic state representative from New Haven named Patricia Dillon, a woman who was trained in epidemiology at Yale--her bill passed the state legislature in July unanimously, and goes into effect this October, about the time many Connecticut Guard troops will finally be coming home from Iraq--the measure has copycats hard at work in some 14-20 other states. Louisiana has already passed a similar law.
The military has been insisting that the 3000 tons of DU munitions it has blown up in Iraq in this war so far (and the 1000 tons more it has exploded and fired off in Afghanistan) are safe for troops and for civilians, though there is no real data to prove this because the Pentagon has vigorously resisted testing returning troops (only 270 so far, and using a far-from-state-of-the-art test) and the State Department and Pentagon have barred UN or other outside testers from looking into DU contamination in Iraq.
The official line --really an obfuscation--is that Uranium is only minimally radioactive. While this is true, it is chemically toxic in minute trace amounts, because Uranium ions are actually attracted to bond with DNA, where they can wreak havoc with cells (especially the cells of developing fetuses).
Meanwhile, an early small test sample of nine returned NY State National Guard soldiers, financed by the NY Daily News, found four, or nearly half the sample, to be clearly DU contaminated, with the others showing obvious symptoms (headaches, renal and neurological problems, etc.).