Guest Opinion: Dennis Kyne - Depleted Uranium
by Dennis Kyne
In May of 2004 I attended my first Barter Faire ever, in Curlew, Washington. Sponsored by the Veterans for Peace, I arrived as far north as I had ever been in America. I came to tell the people of Eastern Washington that depleted uranium needs to be dealt with. I had a wonderful visit, met wonderful people, and made wonderful friends. Thank you, Eastern Washington, for receiving me so nicely.
A year prior to my visit, in its May issue, Environmental Magazine informed the world that, "Since the U.S. military's widespread use of DU (Depleted Uranium, U238) in the Gulf became known in 1991, the Pentagon has struggled to suppress mounting evidence that DU munitions are simply too toxic to use. It has cashiered or attempted to discredit its own experts, ignored their advice, impeded scientific research into DU's health effects and assembled a disinformation campaign to confuse the issue." Two months later the Seattle Post Intelligencer stated, "The Pentagon and the United Nations estimate that the U.S. and Britain used 1,100 to 2,200 tons of armor piercing shells made of depleted uranium during attacks on Iraq in March and April  ú far more than the 375 tons used in the 1991 Gulf War." On February 2 of this year, Sara Flounders and John Catalinotto of Swan's Commentary explained to America, "By now half of all the 697,000 U.S. soldiers involved in the 1991 war have reported serious illnesses. According to the American Gulf War Veterans Association, more than 30 percent of these soldiers are chronically ill and are receiving disability benefits from the Veterans Administration." So, if they have used far more DU than was used in 1991, we should expect far more disabilities, death and chronic pain. That is the truth.
In October of 2003, Leuren Moret, an expert on depleted uranium, informed us at the World Uranium Conference in Hamburg, Germany, about Strontium-90 levels in baby teeth from children with cancer. Moret states very clearly, "Since 1975, national rates for children with leukemia have increased by 44% and for children with brain cancer by 50%." In Moret's most recent work, The Trojan Horse of Nuclear War, published in the Hamburg Conference conclusions, she adds that, "There was never any doubt about the great biological hazard of massive nuclear fallout even before testing started. But there was little concern about the global low level fallout from atmospheric contamination by very small particles which remain suspended until nucleating agents such as rain, snow and pollution remove them from the air and deposit them in the environment, exposing the global population to chronic low level radiation."
In addition to Moret, J. Gould's The Enemy Within illustrates high-risk counties within 100 miles of nuclear reactors using a map that plots breast cancer deaths that are reported annually by counties to the CDC. In the western part of the U.S., the locations of nuclear weapons labs and a few nuclear power plants are indicated by the highest breast cancer deaths. These are the newest victims of exposure to radiation. We know very well that the mining of the uranium for decades has unduly harmed the Native Americans who mined the ore. We know that the government has used troops as guinea pigs in the proliferation of nuclear weapons programs. Now as we accept our newest victims, women and children of every race and class, it is imperative that we recognize these radioactive weapons are omnicidal. That is the truth.
In 1991, I served with the 24th Infantry Division, the most criminally negligent division in Operation Desert Shield/Storm. As a medic, I watched as soldiers walked into the carnage that 45 days of bombing had left in the southern part of Iraq and in Kuwait. The signs and symptoms of the exposure appeared quickly with countless troops vomiting and getting pale. Upon return I experienced joint pains, extreme itching that would have me shredding skin, and a feeling that resembled rubbing alcohol burning a cut in the bottom of my stomach. There are countless accounts of birth deformities and miscarriages in returning soldiers. And women have often complained of pain after having sex with returning front line soldiers.
In 1995, four years after I filed my complaint about my recurring health problems with the Veterans Affairs, I was finally tested for ionizing radiation, twice. Having never been able to get my hands on the results, I am not sure what my true uranium exposure was. However, since 1995 the VA has compensated me for "undiagnosed illnesses." Funny, the VA will admit I am sick, but they will only diagnose me as undiagnosed. I am a VA statistic, which means I am on record as a casualty. However, my stepbrother is not a VA statistic. He has the same signs and symptoms I display, but is not one of the casualties. My brother-in-law who served farther forward than I did is often called an AIDS patient or cancer victim; he is a casualty who is compensated at 100%. Sadly it took over a decade for the VA to recognize his disability. Even sadder, they say he is not a depleted uranium victim and will not test for ionizing radiation. Three of my family members are sick, from the same war, the same battlefield, and the same nuclear waste that is being hurled at Iraq and Afghanistan currently. That is the truth.
How? Why? Is this some sort of Joke? No. Depleted uranium is not new. What is new is the disposal mechanism. In the 80's then-President Reagan made a deal with Russia to stop developing nuclear weapons. We know how short-lived that was. We know that every treaty has been violated and nuclear proliferation is on a rise again. What we didn't know, though, was the answer to the question the environmentalists asked Reagan in the late 80's. "Mr. President, what are you going to do with the waste of the nuclear reactors?"
The President informed his citizens that he planned on sending it to the moon or the bottom of the ocean. That is what they had been doing for years; Reagan was the only person whoever felt smart enough to tell anyone. Americans, who would have nothing to do with this environmental desecration, put a stop to it. In 1997, Dan Fahey, cited in Metal of Dishonor, tells us that, "As a result of 50 years of enriching uranium for use in nuclear weapons and reactors, the U.S. has in excess of 1.1 billion pounds of DU waste material." Of this incredible surplus of radioactive waste, some has been buried in isolated spots and a load of it has been used by the Department of Defense in its weapons programs. The military uses this weapon because it is armor piercing. If this weapon is intended for use against armor, and we destroyed most of the Iraqi's armor in 1991, why have we increased the use of it in Iraq from 375 tons to some ambiguous amount? Why is it being dropped all over Afghanistan where there is not one tank verified to be driven by the Taliban or al Quaeda?
Dennis Kyne is a
fifteen-year veteran of the United States Army. His book
Support the Truth is available at The Book Depot in
Colville, and at his Web site: www.denniskyne.com. It
is dedicated to the half million homeless veterans and
depleted uranium victims.