[fla-left] Uranium in Vieques (fwd)

Michael Hoover hoov at freenet.tlh.fl.us
Thu Oct 12 15:28:39 PDT 2000

forwarded by Michael Hoover

> From: Flavio Cumpiano
> Date: Oct 03 2000
> As the NRC (the "Navy's", sorry, the "Nuclear
> Regulatory Commission") gets ready to make public in
> Puerto Rico tomorrow the results of its "study" on
> radioactive contamination in Vieques, it is important
> to bear in mind what Dr. Doug Rokke, former Director
> of the Pentagon's Depleted Uranium Project, has
> explained about the use of depleted uranium in Vieques
> and the radioactive contamination in the island:
> Press Release by Dr. Doug Rokke, former Director of
> the Pentagon's Depleted Uranium Project, on the
> environmental contamination of Vieques.
> February 9, 2000, Jacksonville, Alabama
> Professor Doug Rokke, Ph.D., former Director of the
> Pentagon's Depleted Uranium Project and one of the
> authors of Pentagon's program for environmental
> remediation of formerly used defense sites, denounced
> the U.S. Navy's use of Vieques for many years as a
> training and test ground for military munitions. Navy
> officers and enlisted personnel under orders and as
> part of Navy operations have fired conventional and
> depleted uranium munitions into the Vieques range
> resulting in serious adverse health and environmental
> effects. After a civilian guard was killed in April
> 1999, Navy officials acknowledged that they willfully
> violated "the requirements of the Navy's radioactive
> materials by firing depleted uranium munitions which
> specify that depleted uranium ammunition is to be used
> strictly during combat or approved tests and are
> prohibited from peacetime or training use", according
> to Luis Reyes in a letter he sent to the Commonwealth
> of Puerto Rico's Secretary of Health Carmen Melecio
> dated 1 February 2000.
> Mr. Reyes added that Navy officers in Vieques failed
> to "follow written procedures for issuance and use of
> ammunition". Moreover, a report prepared by scientists
> from the University of Georgia revealed that they
> found barrels containing unknown and potentially
> hazardous chemicals on ships deliberately sunk off of
> the coast of Vieques in 15' - 20' of water. These
> ships were shot up.
> "It is imperative that complete environmental
> remediation of all affected terrain and medical care
> be provided for all affected residents of Vieques.",
> Dr. Rokke stated.
> Depleted uranium (DU) or uranium-238 is made from
> uranium hexaflouride which is the non-fissionable
> by-product of the uranium enrichment process used to
> obtain uranium-235 for reactor fuel and nuclear bombs.
> A surprising announcement by U.S. Department of Energy
> officials on January 29, 2000 acknowledged, after many
> years of denial, that employees of their facilities
> had significantly higher incident rates for leukemia;
> Hodgkin's lymphoma; and cancers of the prostrate,
> kidney, liver, salivary glands, and lungs. Previous
> announcements acknowledged respiratory problems at the
> Paducah, Kentucky facility. These revelations and
> acknowledgments reinforce the suspected health and
> environmental hazards of depleted uranium which is
> manufactured from the main byproduct, uranium
> hexaflouride, of each of these facilities. It is even
> more disturbing that in a memorandum dated October 30,
> 1943, senior scientists assigned to the Manhattan
> Project suggested that uranium could be used as an air
> and terrain contaminant. According to the letter sent
> by the Subcommittee of the S-1 Executive Committee on
> the "Use of Radioactive Materials as a Military
> Weapon" to General Groves (October 30, 1943)
> inhalation of uranium would result in "bronchial
> irritation coming on in a few hours to a few days".
> This is exactly what happened to individuals who
> inhaled DU dust during Operation Desert Storm.
> The subcommittee went on further to state that "Beta
> emitting products could get into the gastrointestinal
> tract from polluted water, or food, or air. From the
> air, they would get on the mucus of the nose, throat,
> bronchi, etc. and be swallowed. The effects would be
> local irritation just as in the bronchi and exposures
> of the same amount would be required. The stomach,
> caecum and rectum, where contents remain for longer
> periods than elsewhere would be most likely affected.
> It is conceivable that ulcers and perforations of the
> gut followed by death could be produced, even without
> an general effects from radiation". Today many who
> inhaled or ingested DU have bouts of explosive
> diarrhea and other problems. Today, most of health
> effects predicted by the subcommittee in 1943 are
> observed in those exposed to DU during ODS.
> According to the U.S. Army's official "RESPOND TO
> (DULLRAM) HAZARDS" task number
> "031-503-1017:
> Contamination will make food and water unsafe for
> consumption." This direct quote verifies that the
> military still is aware as they always have been been
> since 1943 that serious hazards exist from uranium
> (DU) contamination.
> Dr. Rokke stated that each day reveals more evidence
> that the United States' willful distribution of
> uranium in Puerto Rico and other locations around the
> world poses serious risks. Although it is difficult to
> verify that health effects were caused by DU exposure,
> accumulating evidence indicates that health effects
> include: reactive airway disease, neurological
> abnormalities, kidney stones, chronic kidney pain,
> rashes, vision degradation, night vision losses, gum
> tissue problems, lymphoma, leukemia, other cancers,
> neuro-psychological disorders, uranium in semen,
> sexual dysfunction, gastro-intestinal problems, and
> birth defects in offspring.
> Responsibility for DU exposures will be elusive while
> U.S. officials deny or delay medical treatment to all
> individuals who inhaled, ingested, or have wound
> contamination. Exposures will continue until removal
> of all DU contamination is completed. Still, Dr. Rokke
> added that Department of Defense officials continue to
> deny any responsibility for this travesty of
> environmental justice. Dr. Rokke recommended that, the
> citizens of Vieques and the world must insist that:
> 1. All individuals who may have inhaled, ingested, or
> had wound contamination must receive medical
> assessment and treatment for adverse health effects.
> 2. All depleted uranium penetrator fragments,
> contaminated equipment, and oxide contamination must
> be removed and disposed of to prevent further adverse
> health and environmental effects.
> 3. The use of depleted uranium munitions must be
> banned.
> The residue caused by the use of conventional
> munitions also poses serious health and environmental
> risks. Conventional munitions residue consists of
> unstable and unexploded ordnance, heavy metal
> shrapnel, organic compound residues, and inorganic
> chemical compound residues. The unanswered question is
> whether any chemical warfare or biological warfare
> agents have been used on Vieques. Conventional
> munitions residues may consist of phosphorous or other
> pyrophoric materials; napalm; triethalum metal
> incendiaries; lead styphnate; lead azide;
> nitroglycerin; mercury azide; mercury fulminate; PETN;
> Compositions A, B, C; Tetryl; TNT; RDX; HBX; black
> powder; ammonium nitrate; Favier explosives (reference
> U.S. Corps of Engineers Missouri River Division,
> February 10, 1993); HMX; TNB; DNB; NB; 2,4 DNT; 2,6
> DNT; 2NT; 3 NT, 4NT; 4-Am-DNT; and 2-am-DNT (reference
> U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Omaha District December
> 12, 1996); picrates; nitrocellulose; AP; and
> nitroaromatics (reference SAIC May, 6, 1997).
> In addition to these contaminants the U.S.
> Environmental Protection Agency (reference "Approaches
> for the Remediation of Federal Facility Sites
> Contaminated with Explosives or Radioactive Wastes",
> EPA/625/R-93/013, September 1993) identified similar
> and additional contaminants. The probable adverse
> health and environmental effects based on physical and
> chemical characteristics of these conventional
> munitions residues mandate a complete analysis
> followed by thorough environmental remediation of all
> affected areas on the island or in the surrounding
> waters of Vieques. Medical care also must be provided
> for these exposures.
> Professor Rokke stated that the recent finding of
> ships sunk with potential hazardous materials in
> leaking barrels off the coast of Vieques in 15' to 20'
> is disturbing. Probable water and thus food chain
> contamination from these leaking barrels with unknown
> chemicals and decay of ship construction materials
> also mandates a thorough analysis of contamination,
> completion of environmental remediation, and health
> care for all affected individuals.
> Dr. Rokke also denounced the fact that almost eights
> (8) months have passed since the Committee for the
> Rescue and Development of Vieques filed a Freedom of
> Information Act (FOIA) request on June 16, 1999 from
> all the US military branches, requesting any and all
> information about the use of DU on Vieques and the
> Committee has yet to receive substantive response.
> "The Navy was forced to admit that they fired DU on
> Vieques on February 1999. But the fact that it's taken
> so long for the Armed Forces to categorically admit or
> deny others uses of DU on Vieques raises suspicion
> that there have been other uses of DU on Vieques. This
> wouldn't surprise me, since the Armed Forces have
> treated Vieques and its citizens as guinea pigs." said
> Dr. Rokke.
> Finally, Dr. Rokke added that environmental
> contamination caused by deliberate U.S. Navy actions
> resulting in air, water, and soil contamination with
> consequent adverse health effects is a crime gainst
> humanity and must be immediately corrected. He stated:
> "All citizens of Vieques, Puerto Rico, the United
> States, and all other nations of the world must unite
> to protect our fragile environment and the health of
> all living things. We also must demand the cessation
> of all Naval activities on Vieques to prevent further
> problems in the name of GOD and for the citizens of
> the world."

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