Activists Reveal Pentagon’s Own Depleted Uranium Warnings

April 22nd, 2005 - by admin

Traprock Peace Center – 2005-04-22 00:33:02

Does US military acknowledge its own regulations on DU? Will it comply with environmental and health care mandates for both US and Iraq?

Retired Major Doug Rokke, Ph.D. (USAR, retired), who was an Army health physicist during the Gulf war and was then responsible for trying to ‘clean up’ radiologically contaminated US equipment (RCE’s) there, has been calling on the military to follow its own regulations.

He and Damacio Lopez continue to make this call.

These Army regulations and the “Handling Procedures for Equipment Contaminated with Depleted Uranium or Radioactive Commodities” specify stringent requirements for handling RCE’s, as well as providing medical surveillance, training, and environmental protection among other requirements. [You may also download the Procedures at the military’s site].

For instance, the regulations require protecting the environment in the war zone — Iraq in this case — (Army Regulation 700-48, 2-4) and medical care for any “individual” who “may have been exposed” to DU contamination. (Army Regulation 700-48, 2-5).

(The US has used DU in many US states and other countries; we focus on Iraq here, given the current crisis and the huge amounts of DU used. The regulations apply wherever DU has been used.)

Reading these regulations and procedures, one must wonder how the US can justify — morally or legally — using such a weapon. (See the Karen Parker, J.D., article on the illegality of DU Weaponry under international humanitarian law.)

Very recently, two US military publications have taken notice of the regulations. But again, what of the Iraqis — a people who will be left to live with what the US has left behind? And, will the military follow these reminders of their regulations, even concerning US soldiers?

The Nov-Dec, 2004 issue of the US military’s Hazardous Technical Information Services Bulletin, VOL. 14 NO. 6; pages 7-8, “Management and Handling of Equipment Contaminated With Depleted Uranium or Radioactive Commodities.” You may download the entire Bulletin here or at the original military site:
(We offer a local download option because sometimes government documents disappear, and because some people do not like to pick up cookies at military websites.)

Dr. Abdul H. Khalid, Chemical Engineer, HTIS, writes:

The US Department of Army (DA) Regulation (AR 700-48) outlines formal policy and procedures for the management of equipment contaminated with depleted uranium (DU) or radioactive commodities. This publication is available online at:

The DA Pamphlet (PAM 700-48) recommends handling procedures for equipment contaminated with depleted uranium (DU) and/or other low-level wastes (LLRW). PAM 700-48 applies to DA commands, installations, and activities.

The current revision updated symbols, removed obsolete publications, and added technical references. This publication is available at

These documents are of great help to generators of excess radioactive materials who wish to collect and consolidate these materials in preparation for removals off-post.

He goes on to give contact information for Radioactive Waste Disposal Offices in order to receive “guidance on radioactive waste materials, their proper disposal procedures, and technical information on LLRW.” See the Bulletin, pages 7-8, for the complete article.

We note, though, that a regulation more than just “outlines formal policy and procedures…” Federal regulations are federal law. The regulation states “By order of the Secretary of the Army…This regulation prescribes policy and procedures for the management of equipment contaminated with Depleted Uranium or radioactive commodities.” (emphasis added)

In January, 2005, the Central Region Review — US Army Environmental Center, Central Regional Office, Kansas City, MO January, 2005 — Regions 6 & 7 picks up this thread. See the section Federal Actions – Other Regulatory Activity and General Information, page 27. (The regulation is not exactly highlighted as it was put on page 27, but it’s there nonetheless).
Download it here or at the government site:

The January note validates Mr. Khalid’s article, as well as what Doug Rokke has been saying for years, to a point. I say “to a point” because it also understates the force of the regulations, turning law into mere policy. The January note reads:

Handling Procedures for Equipment Contaminated with Depleted Uranium or Radioactive Commodities (DA PAM 70048) and Management of Equipment Contaminated with Depleted
Uranium or Radioactive Commodities (AR 700-48).

Department of the Army pamphlet PAM 700-48 provides recommended handling procedures for equipment contaminated with depleted uranium and other low-level radioactive materials or wastes. Army Regulation, AR 700-48, outlines formal procedures and policies for the management of handling contaminated equipment. These documents can be accessed at

Guidance on radioactive waste material, proper disposal techniques, and technical information is available from the following points of contact: Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Headquarters, 8725 John J. Kingman Highway, Suite 2533, Fort Belvoir, Virginia 22060, or telephone (703) 767-6331; Department of Defense, Army Industrial Operations Command Executive Agency, ATTN: AMSIO-SF, Rock Island, Illinois, or telephone (309) 782-2033; US Air Force, IERA/SDRH, 2402 E. Drive Brooks AFB, Texas, or telephone (210) 536 3489; Naval Sea Command Detachment, Radiological Affairs Support Office, PO Drawer 260, Yorktown, Virginia, or telephone (757) 887-4692.

[Please note: I did not add a link to the Traprock website in either of the above two military documents. They did indeed cite Traprock for a copy of the military’s own regulations. We’re flattered but surprised to be an official source of federal law.]

Finally, someone in the military has taken note of the military’s own regulations. Thank you Dr. Khalid. Still, the force of the mandate has been understated. Even if the military were encouraged to act concerning US soldiers posts, and what about the mess that the US (and the UK, to a lesser degree) have left in Iraq?

The land and air are contamined by radioactive dust and debris from hundreds of tons of uranium muntions that have been used in Iraq since the first Gulf War.

We don’t know how much DU was used in the current war. Estimates range from the military’s figures of 100 plus tons, to about 2000 tons if DU was used in bunker busters. The US is not helping much to get to the bottom of this, as it has refused (unlike the UK) to divulge where it has used DU in Gulf War II.

Even accepting US figures, about 450-500 tons would be a convervative estimate of the amount used since the first Gulf War. (I suspect it is much higher.) Additionally, hundreds of Iraqi vehicles have been left behind, in violation of Army regulations.

Army Regulation 700-48, Section 2-4

c. Handling.
(1) The unit/team/individual responsible for the equipment, whether friendly or foreign, at the time of damage or contamination is responsible for taking all action consistent with this regulation and DA PAM 700-48.

(6) All equipment, to include captured or combat RCE, will be surveyed, packaged, retrograded, decontaminated and released IAW Technical Bulletin 9-1300-278, DA PAM 700-48 and other relevant guidance.

Further, the dumping (abandonment) of much of this equipment in open air ‘grave yards’ violates 700-48, 2-4:

e. Disposal.
(1) In general, environmental impact must be considered prior to equipment retrograde. Retrograde operations must minimize the spread of contamination preventing further harm to personnel and damage to equipment.

(2) Radioactive material and waste will not be locally disposed of through burial, submersion, incineration, destruction in place, or abandonment without approval from overall MACOM commander. If local disposal is approved, the responsible MACOM commander must document the general nature of the disposed material and the exact location of the disposal. As soon as possible the MACOM commander must forward all corresponding documentation to the Chief, Health Physicist, AMCSF-P, HQAMC. (emphasis added)

In the photo at right, Tedd Weyman of the Uranium Medical Research Center inspects an Iraqi tank destroyed by DU, at a 10 hectare open air dump for destroyed Iraqi equipment, including RCE’s. The photo is a copyrighted screen shot from the award-winning German public television documentary, “The Doctor, the Depleted Uranium and the Dying Children.” photo © 2003 Telepool

We, in the anti-DU activist community, hear from US military apologists all the time that there is no evidence of adverse health effects.

They’re spinning rubbish. Without citing all of the scientific evidence here (that’s a whole book — see the proceedings of the World Uranium Weapons Conference), the military’s own documents condemn their argument. For example,

Occasionally, a US government memo becomes public — such as the Los Alamos memo (where proponency – lying – is the order of the day), or the Defense Nuclear Agency memo that admits to DU’s threat to health.

* Or, a military figure says some truth about DU in a non-public setting, such as a presentation to manufacturers

* Or a Pentagon scientist, such as Dr. Alexandra Miller, reports some uncomfortable research (about chromosomal damage and bystander effects) as she did at MIT. Her presentation on the DU health panel at MIT, with Dr. Thomas Fasy, is available at

* And sometimes GI’s talk about the horror of fiendish DU fire — as happened after A-10’s attacked Marines at An Nasiriyah with 30 mm DU rounds —

Here’s a quote from a Marine field historian who heard these testimonies:

“It’s bad enough to be shot, but to be shot with a depleted uranium round that basically turns you into a handful of mush.”
— Col. Reed Bonadonna, field historian, talking to NPR’s Jackie Northam

• And, sometimes, a freedom of information act request turns up an astonishing admission of 14 years of knowledge of DU’s hazard to health.

The Department of Defense is a huge organization. It can’t control all information, and occasionally some truth gets out. It’s up to us to act on that truth.

Call your elected officials and tell them (they work for you) to take action to abolish uranium weapons.

And please call your favorite media and ask that they cover the issue. Some media have given excellent coverage (RNNTV in metro NYC; WAMC in Albany; the Christian Science Monitor; Vanity Fair; King TV5 in Washington State; and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer to name a few. But where are NPR, the New York Times and the Washington Post?
Has your local media covered DU?

Charles Jenks, Traprock Peace Center, 103A Keets Road, Woolman Hill, Deerfield, MA 01342: (413) 773-7427; Fax:(413)773-7507. If media, a Congressional aide, or your organization is looking for an expert on DU, please call us — we’d be happy to offer suggestions.