Efectele cancerigene ale bombelor cu uraniu in Balcani

Kosovo Imagery –
1999 – Operation Allied Force – FAS Intelligence Resource Program


Depleted uranium ‘threatens
Balkan cancer epidemic’

By Environment Correspondent Alex Kirby

A British scientist says the Americans’ use of depleted
uranium weapons in the war with Serbia is likely to
cause 10,000 extra deaths from cancer.

A British biologist, Roger Coghill, says he expects the
depleted uranium (DU) weapons used by US aircraft
over Kosovo will cause more than 10,000 fatal cancer

Mr Coghill, who runs his own research laboratory in
south Wales, was speaking at a London conference
called to discuss the use by American and British forces
of DU in Iraq in the 1991 Gulf war.

High radiation levels

He said there had been evidence in other parts of the
Balkans of elevated radiatio
In mid-June scientists at
Kozani in northern Greece
were reporting that radiation
levels were 25% above
normal whenever the wind
blew from the direction of
And Bulgarian researchers
reported finding levels eight
times higher than usual
within Bulgaria itself, and up
to 30 times higher
DU is a by-product of the enrichment of uranium for
making nuclear weapons and reactor fuel. It is 1.7
times heavier than lead, and is used for making
armour-piercing rounds.

Safety controversy

Both the Pentagon and the Ministry of Defence insist
that it poses no significant danger. But Mr Coghill says
that, while DU in its inert form is safe enough, when it
strikes a target it does become a real danger.
“In an impact DU catches fire, and much of the round is
turned into burning dust. The particles are extremely
small, they can travel up to 300 kilometres. They are
also beta-emitters, which are dangerous if inhaled.”
The particles can then lodge in the lungs, resisting the
body’s attempts to flush them out, and can wreak havoc
with the immune system. They can migrate to any
tissue, though they often make for the kidneys.
Using calculations based on the Pentagon’s statement
that one in five of the rounds fired by its A-10 aircraft
over Kosovo were DU munitions, Mr Coghill estimates
that more than 500,000 DU rounds were fired, of which
half detonated.

He says that would have resulted in the release of
about one thirty-thousandth of the amount of radiation
released at Chernobyl in 1986. “But that was in the
form of caesium on the ground. This is free-floating
particulate matter.”

Delayed effect

Mr Coghill says the maximum effect will be reached
about six months after the war, and he thinks the first
cancers – probably leukaemias – will start to show up
about a year after that.

“Throughout the Balkan region, I calculate that there
will be an extra 10,150 deaths from cancer because of
the use of DU. That will include local people, K-FOR
personnel, aid workers, everyone.”

He accepts that doubts remain over the effects of DU,
and says it is vital to listen to critics who suggest that
the higher cancer rates seen in parts of Iraq may have
been caused by chemical weapons instead.

However, Mr Coghill notes that Bosnia, where DU
weapons were used in 1995, was not attacked with
chemical munitions, unlike Iraq.

“No epidemiological study can ever prove causality – all
it can do is show an association. For proof, you need
human, animal and cellular studies. All of those have
been carried out on DU, and they support the
association,” says Mr Coghill.

“The total evidence is strong that DU is behind Gulf
War Syndrome, and the
“The birth deformities seen in the Gulf are identical to
those seen in Bosnia, and in the children of some US
service personnel who were exposed to DU.”

He says there is telling confirmation of his distrust of
DU. It comes in the form of evidence submitted by
radiation physicists at the University of Maryland to the
US Department of Energy in April on the long-term use
of DU.

“They concluded that DU should never be used in a
battlefield scenario, because of its hazards to health.”

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