[ RadSafe ] What is being shown at Orlando - Learn about how this came to be
rhelbig at california.com
Wed Feb 6 03:49:13 CST 2008
The dangers of D.U.
JC resident produces video documentary on depleted uranium, its effect on
soldiers returning from Iraq
Reporter staff writer
POISON DUST - "Poison Dust" is the new documentary by Jersey City resident
Dr. Susan Harris about the dangers of depleted uranium.
Jersey City resident Dr. Susan Harris has produced the new documentary
"Poison Dust," which tells of three National Guard officers from New York
City who, after returning from a tour of duty in Iraq in 2003, noticed that
they were suffering from unusual ailments, including migraine headaches,
blurred vision and painful urination.
What the three found out was that they were the victims of exposure to
depleted uranium (DU), which is the waste left over when the highly
radioactive types or isotopes of uranium are removed for use as nuclear fuel
or nuclear weapons.
Twice as heavy as lead, DU has been utilized in the U.S. military since the
Persian Gulf War in 1990 for certain types of artillery shells, and for
armor-plating in Abrams tanks.
However, DU stays in the body, unlike natural uranium, which the body can
release. Prolonged exposure has been cited as cause of cancer and skin
The documentary, directed and edited by Harris and a team of video producers
and researchers from the New York City-based Peoples Video Network (PVN), is
a follow up to the 1997 PVN video, Metal of Dishonor, which told the story
of soldiers who fought in the Persian Gulf War in the 1990s and how they
suffered from exposure to DU.
For Harris, a practicing psychologist, there was a simple reason for doing
her recent documentary.
"This information is still being covered up by the military and is not
getting out to the mainstream," said Harris. "We need to inform the public
further of the dangers of depleted uranium since it is being used more
frequently and the soldiers in Iraq are serving much longer."
"Poison Dust" tells the story of Sgt. Agustin Matos, Army National Guard
Spec. Gerard Darren Matthew and Army Officer Raymond Ramos, all of whom are
victims of exposure to DU.
The documentary also traces how DU was first considered for use by the
military, as well as the history of radioactive weapons being employed upon
unsuspecting natives of such places as the Marshall Islands and Vieques,
Puerto Rico, where the U.S. military has done atomic testing in years past.
Also, there are interviews with scientists, activists and others
knowledgeable about the dangers of DU. They include Dr. Helen Caldicott, one
of the world's foremost experts on nuclear weapons, New York Daily News
reporter Juan Gonzalez, whose investigative reports on the effects of DU in
2004 led to U.S. Senate investigation on its use, Jersey City resident and
longtime activist Sara Flounders, who has been researching the subject for
years, and Major Doug Rokke, former head of the U.S. Army DU Project, who
became a critic of its use and ended up losing his job.
Harris said last week that she also interviewed Rosalie Bertell, who became
one of her great sources on how DU becomes lodged in the body. Bertell is a
nun who is one leading critics and authorities on the abuse of nuclear
"Bertell educated on how depleted uranium forms into tiny balls in the
lungs, and how it spreads in the air in the first place after the DU shells
explode," said Harris.
Harris has completed shorter versions of the documentary in the past year,
but had the complete 84-minute version finished earlier this month. She
already has shown the documentary at some schools and public forums, and she
is getting mixed reactions.
"At certain forums, there has been anger and outrage, with people calling
for this practice by the military to end," said Harris. "But I remember
recently a screening at a community college, where a large segment of the
student population was in military service. They were angry but the
consensus was 'this is how the military does things.'
Harris is working presently on arranging some screenings in Jersey City and
in Hudson County, especially in schools.
For more information on acquiring a copy of "Poison Dust," call Harris at
(917) 566-2257, or call the Peoples Video Network at (212) 633-6646, ext. 15
The National Guardsmen have sued the US in Federal District Court - they
cite so many maledies as being due to their alleged DU contamination that
the filing reads almost like a sit com -
Note the prominent role of Rosalie Bertell and Doug Rokke in this so-called
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