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Doug Rokke. Ph.D.
Jacksonville State University

The recent (March 20-23, 2000) Plowshares vs. Depleted Uranium trial in Baltimore County court involved individuals who protested the continuing use of depleted uranium munitions and callous disregard of health and environment as continuously demonstrated by U.S. Department of Defense officials. The Courts refusal to admit testimony regarding DU effects is yet again additional evidence that U.S. officials will avoid acknowledging adverse health or environmental effects for political and economic reasons. The United States deliberately used depleted uranium munitions in Iraq, Kuwait, Kosovo, Serbia, Bosnia, Puerto Rico, Okinawa, and within the United States.United Nations documents verify that over 31,000 DU rounds (over 10 tons) were fired in Kosovo. Yet, neither medical care nor environmental remediation has been completed. Thousands of individuals have been exposed and, today, many are sick or dead.DU is a health hazard if it is inhaled, ingested, or gets in wounds.U.S. Department of Energy documents released January 29, 2000 verify the hazards of uranium exposures.Respiratory and skin protection must be worn by everyone within 80 feet of any DU-contaminated equipment.DU contamination will make food and water unusable. Today, irrefutable evidence suggests that adverse health and environmental effects occur unless all contamination is removed!This evidence was willfully suppressed during the recent trial.

Depleted uranium (U-238) is made from uranium hexaflouride, which is the non-fissionable by-product of the uranium enrichment process completed at facilities in Tennessee, Ohio, and Kentucky during which fissionable U-234 and U-235 are removed to make bombs and reactor fuel.DU is used in munitions, counterweights, shielding, and now commercial concrete (DUCRETE).DU munitions include the: 7.62 mm, 50 cal., 20 mm (180 grams), 25 mm(200 grams), 30 mm (280 grams), 105 mm (3500 grams), and 120 mm (4500 grams) penetrators and the ADAM and PDM cluster bombs.DU munitions, in contrast to previous reports, are neither tipped nor coated with DU but are solid uranium 238 with approximate masses as listed above. Upon impact, radioactive and heavy metal poison U-238 fragments and dangerous oxides are created that must be removed to prevent further exposures.

Even though medical care, environmental remediation, and DU training are required by law, and by DOD regulations, the United States Department of Defense (DOD) is still refusing:

  1. to provide medical care for all DU casualties

  2. to complete environmental remediation

  3. to provide thorough DU training

  4. to disseminate DU contamination management procedures.

During the "Plowshares versus Depleted Uranium" trial conducted in Towson, U.S. Air Force officials admitted under oath that they had not completed the required DU training. The U.S. Government Accounting Office Report: "Understanding of Health Effects From Depleted Uranium Evolving but Safety Training Needed" (GAO/NSAID-00-70, page 18) states that"the Air Force requires general awareness DU training for all personnel subject to mobilization and deployment and as a part of basic training".Therefore, the GAO document verifies that the U.S. Air Force personnel maintaining the A-10's are willfully violating laws and regulations. These same individuals did not provide adequate security to prevent the defendants from approaching and damaging an A-10 combat aircraft.

Today, verification of adverse DU health effects is difficult because DOD officials not only deny, but delay, medical treatment. Dr. Bernard Rostker (DOD) wrote on March 1,1999, that physicians and health physicists decided during 1991 that medical screening for uranium exposures was not required. Official DOD documents written during 1991 refute that claim. Reported and verified health effects of radioactive and heavy metal poison include: reactive airway disease, neurological abnormalities, kidney stones, chronic kidney pain, rashes, vision degradation, night vision losses, gum tissue problems, lymphoma and other forms of cancer, neuro-psychological disorders, uranium in semen, sexual dysfunction, birth defects in offspring, and death.Adverse effects will continue to occur as long as U.S. Department of Defense, or other governmental officials, are permitted to:

  1. ignore emerging evidence,

  2. deny medical treatment to all DU exposed individuals,

  3. refuse to complete environmental remediation , and

  4. delay DU training by suppressing scientific and medical evidence.

The Deputy Secretary of Defense ordered medical care for everyone that inhaled, ingested, or has wound contamination on June 8, 1993. Headquarters Department of the U.S. Army on October 14, 1993 ordered it, again.However, medical care and environmental remediation still are refused for political and economic reasons.President Clinton announced on April 12, 2000 that individuals exposed to radioactive materials while employed by the U.S. Department of Energy at Oak Ridge, Pudacah, and other similar sites who are sick would receive compensation and medical care.This same courtesy should be extended to all individuals exposed to depleted uranium as part of official duties. .

The United Nations forced U.S. officials to finally acknowledge deliberate use of DU in Kosovo on March 22, 2000, almost one year after initial use. Yet, U.S. officials immediately denied there were any adverse health or environmental effects on March 23, 2000 even though official documents and medical evidence refute their claims. Everyone should consider whether they want thousands and thousands of radioactive heavy metal poison bullets in their own backyard.If not, then those bullets should not be left anywhere in the world where children, or any human being, may be exposed!The response to this crime against God and humanity is clear:

  1. All individuals who may have inhaled, ingested, or had wound contamination must have medical care

  2. All depleted uranium fragments, contaminated equipment, and oxide contamination must be removed and disposed of properly.

  3. Use of depleted uranium munitions must be banned.

Author information: Dr. Doug Rokke is the former ODS DU Team health physicist and the former U.S. Army DU Project Director. Currently, he is a professor of environmental science at Jacksonville State University, Jacksonville, Alabama.

Note to WILPF members and friends:

Please send a copy of this report to every elected federal official you can think of (and any environmental/health/disarmament groups) who could have any influence on changing U.S. and British policies on the inhumane uses of DU, and insist that they CLEAN IT UP AND TREAT ALL VICTIMS! THANKS!!

Patricia T. Birnie <>