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They were told depleted uranium was not hazardous. Now, 23 years after a US arms plant closed, workers and residents have cancer - and experts say their suffering shows the use of such weapons may be a war crime.
In a paper to be published in the next issue of the scientific journal Science of the Total Environment, a team led by Professor Randall Parrish of Leicester University reports the results of a three-year study of Colonie, funded by Britain's Ministry of Defence.
Parrish's team has found that DU contamination, which remains radioactive for millions of years, is in effect impossible to eradicate, not only from the environment but also from the bodies of humans. Twenty-three years after production ceased they tested the urine of five former workers. All are still contaminated with DU. So were 20 per cent of people tested who had spent at least 10 years living near the factory when it was still working, including Ciarfello.
In 1984, having bought the factory from NL for $10 in a deal that meant the firm was exempted from having to pay for its clean-up, the federal government began a massive decommissioning project, supervised by the Army Corps of Engineers. The clean-up did not finish until summer 2007, having cost some $190m. Contractors demolished the buildings and removed more than 150,000 tons of soil and other contaminated detritus, digging down to depths of up to 40ft and trucking it 2,000 miles by rail to underground radioactive waste sites in the Rockies. All that is now left of the NL plant is a huge, undulating field, ringed by razor wire.
Despite this colossal [clean up] effort, Parrish and his colleagues found high concentrations of DU particles in soil, stream sediments and household dust in the vicinity of the site, deposited long ago when the factory burnt the shavings and chips produced by the weapons manufacturing process: the study estimates that, over the years, about 10 tons of uranium oxide dust wafted from the chimney into the surrounding environment.
In early September 2003, Army National Guard Spec. Gerard Darren Matthew was sent home from Iraq, stricken by a sudden illness.
One side of Matthew's face would swell up each morning. He had constant migraine headaches, blurred vision, blackouts and a burning sensation whenever he urinated.
The Army transferred him to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington for further tests, but doctors there could not explain what was wrong.
Shortly after his return, his wife, Janice, became pregnant. On June 29, she gave birth to a baby girl, Victoria Claudette.
The baby was missing three fingers and most of her right hand.
TV footage shot in Baghdad in 2003 shows children playing in the remains of tanks coated with thick, black DU oxide, while there have long been claims that the DU shells that destroyed Saddam Hussein's tanks in the 1991 Gulf war were responsible for high rates of cancer in places such as Basra.
Parrish's team includes David Carpenter, an environmental health expert from Albany University. 'DU burns, it releases particulates that can be breathed in, and it doesn't go away,' he says. 'The issue does not concern military personnel as much as civilian populations in theatres where they are used. Now we know that we can still find measurable levels of DU among the people of Colonie, we need a much bigger study to establish whether they have suffered disproportionate ill-effects such as cancers as a consequence. If they have, it would raise a serious ethical challenge to the use of these weapons. Arguably it could constitute a war crime.'
From 1958 to 1984, NL operations used radioactive materials consisting mostly of depleted uranium (DU), although smaller amounts of thorium and enriched uranium were also used between 1960 and 1972. Operations reduced depleted uranium tetrafluoride to depleted uranium metal which was then made into shielding components, ballast weights, and projectiles. In addition, from 1966 to 1972, NL manufactured fuel from enriched uranium for experimental nuclear reactors (USACE 2001b).
Other processes at NL included an electroplating operation for plating uranium with nickel and cadmium. Chemicals used included: nickel sulfamate, sodium cyanide, ferric chloride, nitric acid, silicate phosphate, iridite (a chromium brightener), cadmium metal, nickel metal, boric acid, and perchloroethylene (PCE). There is little or no information about how or where most of these materials were disposed because there are no disposal records. However, letters from NL to the Atomic Energy Commission indicate that about 55 cubic yards of graphite, slag, refractory, uranium oxide, insoluble oil, metal scrap, and combustible trash were buried in the Patroon Lake in 1961, as per their license. Other chemical wastes and packaged chemicals used at the site included acids, bases, degreasing agents, carbon tetrachloride, benzene, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), cyanide, heavy metals, and asbestos (USACE 2001b).
Between 1984 and 1988, DOE remediated DU contaminated soil at 53 vicinity properties, including both commercial and residential properties.
The community is concerned that past emissions from the site have caused adverse health effects such as various types of cancer, birth defects, Down syndrome, rashes, and endometriosis. ATSDR will evaluate the potential exposure pathways discussed above and review available literature to determine the plausibility that those exposures, if found, may have resulted in disease.
A community group is concerned about exposure to DU, lead, and other possible contaminants in the surface water of the Patroon Creek in and around Tivoli Lake while swimming and wading. The watershed is located in an industrial area and is subject to contamination from several point and non-point sources of pollution. Although not classified by New York State for primary contact recreation, it is reported that some parts of the Patroon Creek have been used for many years for swimming and wading by people living nearby. Some uranium and lead have been found in sediments in the Patroon Creek watershed downstream of the Colonie Site.
Were people exposed to harmful levels of lead in the past, present, and future and depleted uranium (DU) in the past by contacting soil when playing or gardening?
COLONIE -- After more than two decades and $190 million, the federal government says its cleanup of soil tainted with uranium and lead at the former NL Industries munitions plant on Central Avenue is complete.
The Groves memo makes it clear that in 1943, U.S. scientists recommended using radioactive poison gas weapons in order to contaminate the air, water, soil, food, environment and the blood of exposed populations. The long-term contamination is permanent, since uranium-238 has a half-life of 4.5 billion years, making contaminated areas uninhabitable for eternity.
For populations that must continue to live in contaminated areas, the long-term effects are lingering illnesses and mutilation of their DNA. Widespread depleted uranium contamination of DNA in populations results in the potential mutilation of future generations. Mutations induced in the DNA of a single egg or sperm which form a fertilized egg are expressed and repeated in every cell of the developing organism, and defects are passed on to all future generations.
Depleted uranium poison gas weaponry, used on a regional scale, meets U.S. National Security Council goals as stated in the “Global 2000 Report: Vision of a Gloomy World” (1980). This report recommended that depopulation in third world countries was imperative to the U.S. government purpose of securing mineral and other strategic resources.
Global atmospheric pollution from depleted uranium particulates will result in massive depopulation on a global scale. By increasing death rates and decreasing birth rates globally, more than 2 billion people will be eliminated.
Even in Diablo Canyon near San Luis Obispo on a fine spring day, nuclear power plants are not safe. They emit the same lethal fission products as a nuclear bomb.This has been an ongoing secret project since World War II of the global ruling elite – such as the Bilderberg Group and the Club of Rome, Skull and Bones, as well as U.S. National Security Council and U.S. State Department policy under Henry Kissinger.
Depleted uranium is the ideal weapon to bring about the New World Order, which is global depopulation. In just a few years it has turned Planet Earth into a Death Star.
The following is the depopulation policy thesis set out in this paper: Intentional depopulation and massive genocide are the core policies by which ruling elites drive international relations, economic aid development, strategic weapons development and the design of engineered wars.
The New World Order depopulation policy was consciously accelerated during World War II with the Manhattan Project. During World War II, the Manhattan Project developed three illegal and infamous weapons of mass destruction: the atomic bombs dropped on the civilian populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, a defoliant developed as Agent Orange for the Vietnam War, and depleted uranium radioactive poison gas weaponry used in Iraq, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Lebanon since 1991. These weapons of mass destruction were developed specifically for the purpose of depopulation.