[ RadSafe ] Fw: [DU Information List] are depleted uranium weapons sickening U.S troops

Roger Helbig rhelbig at california.com
Fri Aug 11 13:13:49 CDT 2006

A small very committed group of activists have gotten their message out to the point where the mainstream media are asking questions,  

Sent: Friday, August 11, 2006 6:54 AM
Subject: [DU Information List] are depleted uranium weapons sickening U.S troops

Are Depleted Uranium Weapons Sickening U.S. Troops? By Deborah Hastings
AP National  Writer
 August 10, 2006 
 NEW YORK (AP) - It takes at least 10 minutes and a large glass of orange  juice to wash down all the pills - morphine, methadone, a muscle relaxant, an  antidepressant, a stool softener. Viagra for sexual dysfunction. And Valium for  his nerves.

Four hours later, Herbert Reed will swallow another 15 mg of  morphine to cut the pain clenching every part of his body. He will do it twice  more before the day is done.

Since he left a bombed-out train depot in  Iraq, his gums bleed. There is more blood in his urine, and still more in his  stool. Bright light hurts his eyes. A tumor has been removed from his thyroid.  Rashes erupt everywhere, itching so badly they seem to live inside his skin.  Migraines cleave his skull. His joints ache, grating like door hinges in need of  oil.

There is something massively wrong with Herbert Reed, though no one  is sure what it is. He believes he knows the cause, but he cannot convince  anyone caring for him that the military's new favorite weapon has made him  terrifyingly sick.

In the sprawling bureaucracy of the Department of  Veterans Affairs, he has many caretakers. An internist, a neurologist, a  pain-management specialist, a psychologist, an orthopedic surgeon and a  dermatologist.  
He cannot function without his stupefying arsenal of medications, but they  exact a high price.

"I'm just a zombie walking around," he  says.

Reed believes depleted uranium has contaminated him and his life.  He now walks point in a vitriolic war over the Pentagon's arsenal of it -  thousands of shells and hundreds of tanks coated with the metal that is  radioactive, chemically toxic, and nearly twice as dense as lead.

A shell  coated with depleted uranium pierces a tank like a hot knife through butter,  exploding on impact into a charring inferno. As tank armor, it repels artillery  assaults. It also leaves behind a fine radioactive dust with a half-life of 4.5  billion years.

Depleted uranium is the garbage left from producing  enriched uranium for nuclear weapons and energy plants. It is 60 percent as  radioactive as natural uranium. The U.S. has an estimated 1.5 billion pounds of  it, sitting in hazardous waste storage sites across the country. Meaning it is  plentiful and cheap as well as highly effective.

Reed says he unknowingly  breathed DU dust while living with his unit in Samawah, Iraq. He was med-evaced  out in July 2003, nearly unable to walk because of lightning-strike pains from  herniated discs in his spine. Then began a strange series of symptoms he'd never  experienced in his previously healthy life.

At Walter Reed Army Medical  Center in Washington, D.C, he ran into a buddy from his unit. And another, and  another, and in the tedium of hospital life between doctor visits and the  dispensing of meds, they began to talk.

"We all had migraines. We all  felt sick," Reed says. "The doctors said, 'It's all in your head.' "

Then  the medic from their unit showed up. He too, was suffering. That made eight sick  soldiers from the 442nd Military Police, an Army National Guard unit made up of  mostly cops and correctional officers from the New York area.

But the  medic knew something the others didn't.

Dutch marines had taken over the  abandoned train depot dubbed Camp Smitty, which was surrounded by tank  skeletons, unexploded ordnance and shell casings. They'd brought  radiation-detection devices. 
 The readings were so hot, the Dutch set up camp in the middle of the desert  rather than live in the station ruins.

"We got on the Internet," Reed  said, "and we started researching depleted uranium."

Then they contacted  The New York Daily News, which paid for sophisticated urine tests available only  overseas.

Then they hired a lawyer.
 Reed, Gerard Matthew, Raymond Ramos, Hector Vega, Augustin Matos, Anthony  Yonnone, Jerry Ojeda and Anthony Phillip all have depleted uranium in their  urine, according to tests done in December 2003. For months during that time,  they bounced between Walter Reed and New Jersey's Fort Dix medical center,  seeking relief that never came.

The analyses were done in Germany, by a  Frankfurt professor who developed a depleted uranium test with Randall Parrish,  a professor of isotope geology at the University of Leicester in  Britain.

The veterans, using their positive results as evidence, have  sued the U.S. Army, claiming officials knew the hazards of depleted uranium, but  concealed the risks.

The Department of Defense says depleted uranium is  powerful and safe, and not that worrisome.

Four of the  highest-registering samples from Frankfurt were sent to the VA. Those results  were negative, Reed said. "Their test just isn't as sophisticated," he said.  "And when we first asked to be tested, they told us there wasn't one. They've  lied to us all along."

The VA's testing methodology is safe and accurate,  the agency says. More than 2,100 soldiers from the current war have asked to be  tested; only eight had DU in their urine, the VA said.

The term depleted  uranium is linguistically radioactive. Simply uttering the words can prompt a  strong reaction. Heads shake, eyes roll, opinions are yelled from all  sides.

"The Department of Defense takes the position that you can eat it  for breakfast and it poses no threat at all," said Steve Robinson of the  National Gulf War Resource Center, which helps veterans with various problems,  including navigating the labyrinth of VA health care. "Then you have far-left  groups that ... declare it a crime against humanity."

Several countries  use it as weaponry, including Britain, which fired it during the 2003 Iraq  invasion.

An estimated 286 tons of DU munitions were fired by the U.S. in  Iraq and Kuwait in 1991. An estimated 130 tons were shot toppling Saddam  Hussein.

Depleted uranium can enter the human body by inhalation, the  most dangerous method; by ingesting contaminated food or eating with  contaminated hands; by getting dust or debris in an open wound, or by being  struck by shrapnel, which often is not removed because doing so would be more  dangerous than leaving it.

Inhaled, it can lodge in the lungs. As with  imbedded shrapnel, this is doubly dangerous - not only are the particles  themselves physically destructive, they emit radiation.

A moderate voice  on the divisive DU spectrum belongs to Dan Fahey, a doctoral student at the  University of California at Berkeley, who has studied the issue for years and  also served in the Gulf War before leaving the military as a conscientious  objector.

"I've been working on this since '93 and I've just given up  hope," he said. "I've spoken to successive federal committees and elected  officials ... who then side with the Pentagon. Nothing changes."

At the  other end are a collection of conspiracy-theorists and Internet proselytizers  who say using such weapons constitute genocide. Two of the most vocal opponents  recently suggested that a depleted-uranium missile, not a hijacked jetliner,  struck the Pentagon in 2001.

"The bottom line is it's more hazardous than  the Pentagon admits," Fahey said, "but it's not as hazardous as the hard-line  activist groups say it is. And there's a real dearth of information about how DU  affects humans."

Reed and the seven brothers from his unit hate what has  happened to them, and they speak of it at public seminars and in politicians'  offices. It is something no VA doctor can explain; something that leaves them  feeling like so many spent shell rounds, kicked to the side of  battle.

But for every outspoken soldier like them, there are silent  veterans like Raphael Naboa, an Army artillery scout who served 11 months in the  northern Sunni Triangle, only to come home and fall apart.

Some days he  feels fine. "Some days I can't get out of bed," he said from his home in  Colorado.

Now 29, he's had growths removed from his brain. He has  suffered a small stroke - one morning he was shaving, having put down the razor  to rinse his face. In that moment, he blacked out and pitched over.

"Just  as quickly as I lost consciousness, I regained it," he said. "Except I couldn't  move the right side of my body."

After about 15 minutes, the paralysis  ebbed.

He has mentioned depleted uranium to his VA doctors, who say he  suffers from a series of "non-related conditions." He knows he was exposed to  DU.

"A lot of guys went trophy-hunting, grabbing bayonets, helmets, stuff  that was in the vehicles that were destroyed by depleted uranium. My guys were  rooting around in it. I was trying to get them out of the vehicles."

No  one in the military talked to him about depleted uranium, he said. His  knowledge, like Reed's, is self-taught from the Internet.

Unlike Reed, he  has not gone to war over it. He doesn't feel up to the fight. There is no known  cure for what ails him, and so no possible victory in battle.

He'd really  just like to feel normal again. And he knows of others who feel the  same.

"I was an artillery scout, these are folks who are in pretty good  shape. Your Rangers, your Special Forces guys, they're in as good as shape as a  professional athlete," he said. "Then we come back and we're all  sick."

They feel like men who once were warriors and now are old before  their time, with no hope for relief from a multitude of miseries that has no  name. 
 © 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be  published, broadcast, rewritten or  redistributed.

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