Thursday, February 17, 2005

Bombed and poisoned

/ poisoning / natives /
A Japanese report form Kosovo detailing among other things the aftermath of massive Depleted Uranium use. Excerpt:

"Dr. Milan Jocic has worked for more than fifteen years at a hospital in the center of town. 'Since the bombings, cancers of the lungs, bones, and tongue have all increased with many children falling ill. The number of cases has risen at least 30 percent. Many more people are dying young. It is the same here as in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.' Zorisa Markovic, a reporter, formerly with the Tanjug News Agency now with Balkan newspaper, has long covered health care issues. He estimates that 'it will take more than ten years to determine accurately the effects of depleted uranium ammunition. When symptoms began appearing among Italian soldiers, there was an uproar in the Western European media, but in Serbia under economic sanctions there was no money to survey the health of residents. What is known is how much depleted uranium was dropped, and that cancer has increased since the bombings which are also thought to have caused weakened resistance to stress. Another problem is that many young physicians, who see no future here, have left for other countries...'"

The Japanese focus on radioactivity is natural, but one would think that there were other toxic emissions conceivably more carcinogenic than DU - at least for those outside the close vicinity of the actual targets.


Anonymous said...

I have to say, that wasn't a very good article. To give just one example, the reporter seems to think that DU is radioactive, and that this is the problem. No. DU is barely radioactive (it's depleted... that's the whole point). The concern is not the radioactivity, but the fact that it's a heavy metal, and as such potentially toxic.

The issue of DU use in Serbia and Kosovo has become shrouded in such a miasma of delusion, disinformation, and deliberate lies that it's quite hard to tell what's actually happening on the ground. There have been official reports from various organizations saying it isn't an issue; there have been some pretty plausible reports, from NGOs and others, saying that it is.

It does look like some parts of Serbia have seen some odd health problems. But it's much harder to pin DU as the culprit than people think. You'll notice the article mentions, just as a throwaway fact in passing, that one of the bombings released tons of dioxin into the environment. There were a number of such incidents. And then, of course, conventional, non-DU munitions can produce some by-products that you wouldn't want to stand around inhaling for too long. For that matter, there are old WWI battlefields that still have bad levels of lead in the groundwater.

Military campaigns are unpleasant, dangerous things. DU gets singled out because it's uranium, and so associated with nuclear contamination. But the evidence about DU is ambiguous to begin with and then heavily distorted by both sides.

You wouldn't want to move to a former battlefield to raise your kids anyhow, DU or no DU.

Doug M.

talos said...

Well about the barely radioctive nature of DU, it depends on what you mean, it's 60% as radioactive as natural Uranium which means that if you put it on your desk it's not a problem. However if you grind it into fine dust and inhale it there might possibly be radiological implications - yet I agree that the chemical toxicity of Uranium would be the foremost health hazard.

As for the non-DU toxic results of the bombings I totally agree, that's what the two links at the bottom of the article were about.